Pauline Broomhead is the founding CEO of the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI), a charity she set up with fellow co-founder Emma Harrison in a bid to support small charities with the best learning opportunities to help them secure a sustainable future.
Pauline is passionate about upskilling small charities, ensuring they have the necessary resources to govern well, build long term sustainability and inspire support through the impact of their work. Pauline’s career has seen her work on campaigns with many of the most high-profile charities in the UK and abroad. Throughout her career, she has garnered a reputation for strategic thinking, relationship management and an undeniable commitment to the sector.
Today, Pauline uses this experience to manage her team at the FSI and deliver training, development and consultancy services all over the UK. Pauline has also encouraged the FSI to grow its policy arm, via the Small Charity Index research, which continually surveys small charities and publishes the results for everyone to use.
In its 10 years, the FSI has helped thousands of small charities improve their operations and maximise fundraising opportunities in order to deliver and diversify the services offered to their communities.
It is this spirit of building better communities and sharing knowledge that motivates Pauline and her team to run Small Charity Week each year – to encourage collaboration in the sector and to celebrate all the hard work of small charities across the UK.
1- In no more than three sentences, please explain what you do
Most of my time is spent on working out how we can amplify the voices of small charities whether that be around the challenges they face or their need for increased resource and support. I try to see how I can use the FSI’s resources to get more for small charities, for instance when we are in Glasgow Training, can I use that opportunity to engage with local commissioners or funders, inviting them along to meet local charities, so creating the environment that might start or build relationships. The rest of my time is thinking about ‘what’s next’ not just for the FSI but for small charities, surveying what’s going on and asking questions of our members to see how things are affecting them and then working out how I can adapt or change our services to better meet their needs.
2- Who inspires you?
That would have to be small charities, I get to meet some of the most dedicated, passionate, innovative, and creative people who each an everyday make a difference in their local communities and when things get tough I think of just how tough it is for them and carry on. I really admire honesty, integrity, selflessness and fighting for what you believe in so if you asked my family who I admired I think they might say Nelson Mandela but also women who without any resources stand up and force change like Rosa Parks. In real life I remember meeting two young people who were heading off to Sri Lanka to start a charity after honeymooning there and seeing the educational injustice that children living on tea plantations faced – they saw an injustice and decided to take action – out of that came the Tealeaf Trust and today some 7 years on hundreds of children on tea plantations in Sri Lanka are better educated – what could be more inspiring….
3- What is the biggest change you want to see in the world?
I’d really like to see each of us reaching our true potential, being the best we can be for ourselves and for those whose lives we touch. Alongside a wider recognition that difference is awesome, that difference delivers benefits and engenders understanding and that difference doesn’t necessarily mean different.
4- What would you like to be remembered for?
Being passionate about making a difference but honestly I’m not sure in the grand scheme of things anything big, perhaps just remembered by anyone whose I shared a path along the way would be great.
5- What is the most interesting new idea you’ve come across in the past year?
I don’t suppose one big idea has really interested me over the past year but what I find incredibly exciting is the desire to embrace a concept that is growing across the whole of society to ‘own less’ and to ‘share more’. From the clothes you no longer want, to the household goods that are no longer of use to you but could be of use to someone else, even to the concept of sharing your home as so many people put their hands up to help out refugees looking for a place to stay. We are by no means all the way there yet but it seems to me that we are becoming more open to the idea of sharing. Let’s hope that as we progress we will be less excited by ownership and more excited about how we can share with those around us and around the world in ways that are also open to all.
6- Finally, how can people engage with your work if they’d like to learn more/help?
Absolutely any small charity registered in the UK (either through the Charity Commission or through HMRC) has access to our entire range of services for free, whether that’s getting one hour’s advice or coming along to a conference or a training day near you. Becoming a member of the FSI, which is also free, gains you access to over £2.5 million of free support services each year – it’s up to you how you use the support we offer so dip in to one training in a town near you or take part in Small Charity Week celebrating amazing small charities or have your say through input into the Small Charity Index – whatever relationship you want with the FSI is your choice – we are just here to give support when you need it.