charitable oscar

The benefits of receiving a 'charitable Oscar'

Related tags: Partnerships

GSK runs the annual GSK IMPACT Awards, in partnership with The King’s Fund [1], which recognises and rewards charities that work to improve community health. Jennifer Fear, CEO of Step Forward, describes how she and her charity benefited from winning a GSK IMPACT Award.

Step Forward is an independent charity that provides free and confidential services to young people in and around the Tower Hamlets area. Working each year with over 1,800 people aged 11-25 years old, we deliver a bespoke package of advice, counselling, personal development, and family support services to suit each individual’s needs.

We applied for a GSK IMPACT Award at a pivotal time for our organisation. Step Forward was facing funding cuts and our ambitious targets for the years ahead were under question. Winning this award not only provided us with the necessary funds that we needed to secure our future, but also gave us a wealth of unexpected benefits, the value of which have been priceless.

After applying for the Award, an independent consultant visited our offices and conducted a lengthy, thorough assessment. Combined with their remit to provide feedback on our work to the judging panel, the consultant also suggested some valuable improvements both to our financial and operational processes, which we rapidly implemented. Before even hearing about being one of the fortunate winners of the Awards, we had already benefited from a free consultation.

When we heard that we had been selected as one of the winners, we were naturally delighted. It’s really not that often that as charity workers you get to have ‘an Oscar’ moment. However, it wasn’t just about an exhilarating award ceremony. Another element of the prize is the production of a film created to promote your organisation. We have used, and continue to use, this film at many fundraising and awareness events. As a small charity, having a high quality film that captures the essence of our work was not something we would not have been able to justify spending money on.

But perhaps most valuable of all is the investment made in us as leaders. Award winners are provided with an intensive and highly valued leadership development programme. The programme is designed to assist us with the specific challenges facing our organisations; helping us develop the skills we need to implement organisational change. I absolutely seized every opportunity given, knowing that this type of professional development training is extremely rare in the third sector.

I valued the leadership training to such an extent that I volunteered to help establish the GSK IMPACT Leadership Development Network.  The Network provides free opportunities for professional development and collaboration, and now has a membership of 70 award-winning health charities. As a member I have truly benefited from being able to connect with a wide range of award-winning charities. We share ideas, support each other and learn from our peers in this network.

Since winning the GSK IMPACT Award I have become a much more confident leader, both within Step Forward but also externally. As an organisation we have a greater sense of pride, a greater level of impact on our local community and a greater sphere of influence within the voluntary sector and healthcare systems.

This is not just a grant application. It is so much more.

My advice to any charity considering applying to the GSK IMPACT Awards? You have nothing to lose but much to gain. Go ahead and apply.

[1] The King’s Fund is an independent charity working to improve health and healthcare in England.