Embedding a new business model for children’s charity ICAN


Value Partnership was recently sponsored to work with children’s communication charity, I CAN. Find out how our consultants helped the CEO and her Leadership Team to execute and embed their new business model.


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First, hear from our sponsor, Susan Hitch and the CEO Virginia Beardshaw:

“Value Partnership’s work with I CAN was exceptional. They grasped I CAN’s purpose and values quickly and intelligently and worked effectively and sensitively with the organisation to make significant change. I CAN had set up a social enterprise business to develop a sustainable income source; Value Partnership worked with the CEO and her team to get the new business model functioning smoothly and embed it in I CAN’s charitable culture, to develop new ways of measuring and tracking results and to develop the team skills for the new business to flourish. The Value Partnership team’s generosity, wholehearted commitment and integrity was a pleasure to witness and vital to the Leadership Team’s growth in skills and confidence.”

Susan Hitch, Manager of Lord Sainsbury of Turville’s pro bono activities

“Value Partnership’s approach is distinctly different from most consultancies, concentrating on really getting to the bottom of working relationship to build strong and effective teamwork. They have made a big difference to our productivity, effectiveness and harmony.”

Virginia Beardshaw, CEO, I CAN

Our work with I CAN

While the children’s charity I CAN has made significant progress in raising the critical importance of children’s speech and language development over the past decade, like so many not for profit organisations, the financial crisis of 2008 had a major impact. This became very real in 2012/13 as income from fundraising dropped significantly and was forecasted to remain very challenging.

Against this tough background the charity had launched a new social enterprise business designed to create a sustainable income stream and to reach new children and families with evidence based interventions.

The objective of our involvement was to help the charity and its CEO answer the question “How do we create a sustainable business from our start up that will provide a reliable income stream for the charity and increase our reach?”.

Value Partnership’s initial review suggested that the charity did not have a clear business model appropriate to a social enterprise and that there were no grounded or phased business or resource plans. The Trading Team was not well integrated into the overall work of the charity and the Leadership Team, whilst very enthusiastic and passionate, was fragmented.

The initial phase of the work was to interview in depth a number of people across the organisation, including the Leadership Team and the Trading Team. The results from these interviews were then used to create an agenda for change.

A team of three Value Partnership consultants worked with the CEO and her team on their organisation critical issues to execute and enable their new business model and develop new ways of measuring and tracking results and to build the required skills to lead and execute the new plan. In particular this required a major cultural shift to a more commercially grounded approach.

A key challenge for the team was to reduce the product range to that set of products that were profitable and could be supported properly. A meeting of the Executive Team, facilitated by Value Partnership, was able to focus on this issue and develop a set of core products.

The Leadership Team was restructured and roles and responsibilities clearly defined. This was supported by intensive coaching of the team on a one to one basis. This process created a major change in the dynamic of the team and the quality of the conversations and decision making dramatically improved.

In summary, Value Partnership was able quickly to understand the purpose and values of the charity and worked effectively and sensitively to achieve significant organisational change. Value Partnership worked with the CEO and her team to execute and embed their new business model, to develop new ways of measuring and tracking results and build the relevant skills to lead and execute the new business model.

Where we helped

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