We use cookies to help us provide you with the best experience, improve and tailor our services, and carry out our marketing activities. For more information, including how to manage your cookie settings, see our privacy notice.


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Covid-19 update: Government guidance changed on 19 July 2021 - we're currently updating our information in response to this. In the meantime, visit the government's guidance on lifting restrictions.

Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

How to make the Transition

Making change as a result of the changed funding environment

The Transition Fund aimed to provide some funding to organisations which received substantial cuts in public sector funding.   The aim of the fund was to help organisations change to become more resilient and to continue to deliver high quality services within a changed funding environment.  Whether you received this funding or not, this 'How To' guide aims to provide guidance to leaders of organisations facing change as a result of reduced public sector funding. 


Pre-requisites for managing change effectively

Shared vision - change requires a willingness to abandon assumptions

  • Creation of new opportunities
  • Clarity of mission and values
  • Leading to new visions for the future

Creative team

  • Willing to think ‘outside the box’
  • Open communication about opportunities, challenges, implications
  • Able to challenge each other robustly – and be supportive
  • Prepared to give each other feedback
  • Build a team around you that you can trust

Realistic staging of change

  • Avoid silver bullets or white knight syndrome
  • Plan, plan and plan again
  • Tasks, milestones and processes
  • Keep up the pace, achieve some quick wins and celebrate

Communicate extensively and with integrity

  • Ensure people feel listened to and heard.   
  • Understand the emotion of change and that change can be painful even when it seems as though it should be a good thing.  
  • Effective communication underpins successful change

Open honest leadership

  • Leader empowered by their board to drive and deliver change
  • Need to be decisive and determined but delusional
  • Forward looking, courageous, willing to take risks
  • Clear about big issues – flexible on the detail
  • Willing to accept setbacks – determined to maintain momentum

What are your choices? How do you best serve your beneficiaries?

How prepared is your board and senior team to make change? Not at all,  or a lot?

Do nothing

  • The funding environment has changed and doing nothing is really not an option.  The organisations that will survive and grow are those that made good strategic decisions early on.

Be reactive, evolve, renovate

  • Reduce costs, services, staffing
  • Look for new streams of funding
  • Make small changes which you hope will tide your organisation over

Be proactive, transform

  • Go back to your core – think about your objectives and what your organisation is really about
  • Think about what makes you unique and why you need to continue
  • Cut services which are not core
  • Develop new innovative ideas
  • Understand value of services versus cost
  • Investigate other players and collaborations and mergers


  • Maintain the legacy
  • Transfer assets

Thinking about collaborations or mergers

The real basis of the consideration for collaboration is understanding what is the purpose of the charity and how it might best be delivered. 

Spectrum of collaboration and mergers

  • Sharing knowledge
  • Collaborative working on issues/projects
  • Joint venture by contract
  • Joint venture through new entity
  • Shared purchasing
  • Shared services
  • Merger

Some deal breakers

  • For Mergers - who is the new leader or CEO and what is the composition of the new Board - is this all amicable or hostile? Any casualties?
  • Cultural fit
  • Personalities
  • Compatibility of objects
  • Liabilities, e.g.:
    • pensions
    • property
    • contracts
    • uninsured claims
    • Solvency
    • Tax (esp. VAT)

Top tips

  • Be very clear about why and that it is worth the pain, analyse the benefits and costs
  • Plan early before it becomes a fire sale or too late
  • Develop the long term vision
  • Choose your partner(s) carefully
  • Consider deal breakers as soon as possible
  • Be clear about planning, process, organisation, people
  • Show leadership
  • Consider VAT and other tax issues early – there is generally a solution to legal and accounting issues
  • Communicate, communicate
  • When it becomes painful, focus on the vision and the benefits

Increasing and diversifying your income

Most organisations will be thinking about how to replace lost income - how will you be able to compete?   Do you have the right tools in place and do you know how to make a strong case for funding?

Market Context

  • What is the need for your services
  • Who are your competition
  • How are you positioned

Toolkit for Fundraising

  • Database
  • Website
  • Data
  • Research
  • Marketing programme

Case for Support / Messaging

  • Need
  • The ways in which you respond to need
  • Who benefits and how
  • Cost
  • Who else does this work
  • What will happen if you don’t do it
  • Impact a supporter will make

What is your current Fundraising mix

  • Institutional Giving
  • Individual Giving
  • Social Investment
  • Earned Income

How do can you diversify the mix

  • Diversifying current fundraising mix
  • investment required
  • timescales
  • ROI

Finally, don’t reinvent the wheel

There are lots of organisations that are going through the same changes at the moment. 

  • Get involved with one of the networking groups and share experiences.
  • Try peer-to-peer mentoring or action learning set
  • Find more information about the collaboration and the support services

Further information

The guide is a summary of two events entitled ‘Making the Transition’, and part of a series of materials being put together by a collaboration of six service providers: Action Planning; Bates, Wells & Braithwaite; Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness; Compass Partnership; NCVO and Sayer Vincent.  We are responding to a need in the sector to provide best practice advice and support to charities, social enterprises and other nonprofits making the transition.

Responding to change - mergers and collaborations, more information

Resources from Transition Fund website - signposting guide to further resources and seven basic guides, one for each of the public service areas that are being targeted by the Transition Fund. They are intended to be starting points for discussions within organisations to help inform decisions about how they can adapt to a new funding environment.

Guide partners


Page last edited Jul 03, 2019 History

Help us to improve this page – give us feedback.