AN innovative charity which places teams of highly skilled business experts into small, often community-based charities and social enterprises is becoming a sector leader in "venture philanthropy".
Pilotlight puts together teams of senior business executives with small, grassroots charities to help them develop a business plan and ultimately grow.
The business executives either join as individuals or corporate members and have to give up just three hours of their time a month to meet with the charities, while Pilotlight project managers oversee the process and make sure the relationship runs smoothly.
Charities are chosen by Pilotlight because, although they may be small, with a turnover between [pounds]100,000 and [pounds]1,000,000, they are ready for growth.
According to Deborah Green, chief executive of Pilotlight London, these charities may have drive and vision, but not the strategies to turn dreams into reality. "By bringing charities together with people with excellent business skills, Pilotlight can make a difference to many different lives in many communities," she says.
"We have more than 170 members, including corporate members such as BP, BT, Channel 4, Sainsbury's, Coutts, KPMG, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley. The process works really well, with almost all the 40 or so charities we help experiencing growth.
"The business members find the process rewarding as it makes them think outside the box, develops their own skills and offers them the opportunity to network with executives from different companies." Dr Katy Emck, executive director of prisoners' charity Fine Cell Work, is quick to praise the help her organisation received through Pilotlight.
Katy remembers the "intense frustration" she felt that her charity which teaches prison immates to quilt and embroider and then sells their handiwork to help them get back on their feet was not fulfilling what she saw as "serious potential for growth".
"We were so busy managing things on a day-to-day basis we found it hard to take a step back and look at the bigger picture," she recalls.
"Pilotlight put us in touch with Sophie Kingsley, who was working as director of human resources at Barclays …