The finishing touches have now been added to the Pernicious Anaemia Society’s new Strategic Plan that acts as the blueprint for the society’s development for the next three years.
The financial auditors of the society’s accounts were asked, in June 2014 to investigate funding opportunities in order that we can reimburse the volunteers who help keep the society afloat. For the last twelve years (ten as a registered charity) the society has been run entirely by volunteers and as the society has grown so has the demands on the volunteers and it was hoped that some money could be paid to these stalwarts of the society in order to compensate them as the volunteering was now affecting the time spent on their everyday work. The auditors met with the me and two other volunteers in June and reported back in October.
The October meeting began with the auditors reporting that the amount of money we were looking for (a few thousand pounds per year) was too big a sum for small granters and far too small for large grant making bodies. I should add here that the auditors concentrate solely on charities – so they know the third sector inside out). And then there came the hard truth – we were told that, if we continued as we were – running the society by volunteers and not really driving a change agenda because we are so immersed in dealing with every day issues – then we would cease to operate within a few years. It was a statement that we agreed with. The society is simply too big to survive in its current form and although the volunteers who were struggling to meet the demands made by members and also researchers and other institutions it was something that we had never discussed and were, to a certain extent in denial of. The truth was finally being acknowledged and, as the auditors pointed out to us, we now needed to stop being a small charity struggling to keep up with demands from various quarters and become a professionally run organisation employing people who are experienced in the third sector with a network of contacts to help bring about change. There was, we were told, no alternative. If we don’t change we will cease to exist – the auditors had seen it happen on several occasions. And so, we have to change. And change, in any shape or form, is always a difficult thing for any organisation to do. What is important is that we manage the change and that will require even more efforts from the volunteers – including me.