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Project identifies lack of training opportunities for upskilling emerging leaders of smaller charities


Research by Cranfield Trust into the management training available for small to medium sized charity staff has found that there is plenty of low-cost management training available. However, there is not much available for upskilling emerging leaders.

Cranfield Trust launched its Charity Management Matters research project, funded by the Masonic Charitable Foundation, in February. It explores the management training available to help charities and their staff to develop the skills needed to tackle current and future challenges.

The project set out to better understand the views and interests of leaders and managers of small to medium size charities to training and development, and to explore barriers to engagement with training. Matilda Gosling, a social research consultant, was appointed by Cranfield Trust to lead the independent research project focused specifically on critical management skills. Taking place in three main phases: market mapping, survey and in-depth interviews, the mapping has now been completed.

The mapping provided a snapshot of available training in June by searching for training opportunities in the way that a charity leader or manager might search.

Research findings

It found that 68% of the 482 courses identified focused on management and 32% focused on leadership development.  The top management topics covered were people management (20% of management courses), compliance (16%), financial management (15%) monitoring and evaluation (12%) and volunteer management (11%).

However, only 3% of the mapped training focused on upskilling emerging leaders, and only 5% on a sub sector. The largest proportion of courses identified (48%) were specific to a particular region or geographical area – indicating a high proportion of training is delivered by organisations on a regional basis. 65% of the training offers identified were from voluntary sector providers.

40% of the training identified was free, with average costs for training £28 per hour, or £282 for a course of training.

Amanda Tincknell CBE, Cranfield Trust CEO commented on the mapping findings, saying:

“Through the first stage of research, we have discovered that management training and courses are better represented than we first thought. Early indications show a good balance between management and leadership training available to charity leaders and managers – it’s possible to find training on key issues such as financial management and financial sustainability and people management as well as a much wider range of management topics.


“However, at this point, there appears to be a lack of focus on training for emerging leaders and 60% of courses are paid for, with the average cost being £282. When capacity and resources are already tight for charity managers, paying for courses could restrict mangers receiving essential management skills training as they start out in the careers.


“The next stage of our research is through a survey and in-depth interviews to understand views of training and how charities carry out training – or not. We assumed that charity managers prefer training geared to the voluntary sector – it will be interesting to find out whether this is correct, or whether all our assumptions were wrong.”

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