Blog post by Isabel Locke, Beacon Programme Manager.

Two years ago, during Small Charity Week, we launched the Beacon Programme aimed at supporting small charity Chairs. So far, 1422 Chairs and Vice Chairs from the across the country have taken part in Beacon, downloading tips and guides, joining webinars and attending workshops.

As we enter the last few months of the programme, I would like to reflect on its impact and the connections Chairs have made as a result of the programme. We know that chairing can be lonely and one of our aims in launching the Beacon Programme was to help Chairs network and support one another.

In late 2019, we launched our pioneering online peer surgeries, followed by our expert insight sessions. These online sessions have encouraged Chairs to share, peer to peer, and ask specific questions on HR, legal and finance issues from experts in those fields.

The feedback has been very positive, with 97% of Chairs taking part in the sessions saying that they would be ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to recommend the online surgery to another Chair or Vice Chair. We’ve also seen a high number of Chairs returning to attend multiple sessions, which is very welcome!

Danielle Green, Chair of Charity IT Association and Beacon Programme participant, said: “It was good to hear thoughts from my peers in other charities, and was a good platform to discuss our thoughts and issues!”

Another participant said: “As always the experience of others in the same role helps massively, even though the charities may be very different.”

While the Beacon Programme was due to end on 30 June 2020, we have received additional funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to continue supporting Beacon participants through the coronavirus pandemic, until 30 September 2020. The extra funding will allow us to continue running expert insight sessions and online peer surgeries, which you’ll be able to access free of charge. If you haven’t joined one yet, don’t miss out – book your place on our next session!