Not for profit move

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I’ve been working as an FD for 10+ years in a £50m turnover family run OMB, however the current owners are looking to sell the business within the next 12 to 18 months.  The buyer would be a larger business, perhaps AIM listed who would in all probability absorb my accounts team into a centralised function, given this kind of structure isn’t for me I would look to move on.

Having been in the accounting profession for 25 years I feel I am at somewhat of a crossroads in my career and this presents a perfect opportunity to consider what I want to do next.

For the last few years I have had a growing desire to get into the charity sector, but apart from auditing a few charities many moons ago I have no experience of this sector.  Having spoken to a few local recruitment consultants they have essentially told me that lack of experience in this sector will be a problem.  I am financially secure so neither a drop in position nor salary would be an issue if this woudl help me get into this sector.

I wondered if anyone had made a similar move and if so would they be willing to offer some advice.

Thanks

Replies (11)

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By David Ex
26th Mar 2024 15:01

R5P wrote:

Having spoken to a few local recruitment consultants they have essentially told me that lack of experience in this sector will be a problem. 

That’s very narrow minded of them. I’d have thought they’d welcome someone with experience wanting that kind of move. I’d guess 90% of a finance role in a charity was very similar to finance roles anywhere else. The rest I’m sure you’d pick up pretty quickly.

I’d try approaching charities directly.

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Replying to David Ex:
paddle steamer
By DJKL
26th Mar 2024 16:19

Certainly funding is maybe niche, but sure you could get up to speed.

We have a few charity tenants and I know that if I offer say a three month rent free on a lease that such an approach may be less valuable to them than our charging them the full rent and then paying them the three months rent free sum by transfer, apparently they can sometimes sort matters to arrange matched funding from donor schemes/ charity funders (lottery etc), so there are certainly nuances re funding/finances, but I suspect nothing that could not be grasped fairly quickly.

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the sea otter
By memyself-eye
26th Mar 2024 15:44

My wife attends The Christie hospital in Manchester, on a late stage cancer drug trial. While she is there I trot across the road to the Christie Charity and help out there, in their corporate grants/donations department as a volunteer .
It's not 'accountancy' (thank god) but a similar approach to another charity might get you in the door, so to speak?

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John Toon
By John Toon
26th Mar 2024 20:16

I don't have any direct experience but we have a lot of NFP clients and the FD/CFO's have a range of backgrounds. Your commercial background should more than make up for the lack of industry specific knowledge you could pick up over the next 12/18 months prior to this potential change in sector.

Apart from the technical aspects of the NFP sector, much of which would depend on the type of organisation you joined, be prepared for potentially slow decision making (by committee), often either poor controls or overly burdensome ones, poor systems amongst other things. These are all great challenges to get your teeth into!

You'd also be surprised by the financial reward aspect of a role in NFP. All but the smallest charities generally pay quite generously (OK there's no chance of share options etc) but time off, pensions etc tend to be more generous than in the commercial world you're familiar with.

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Brainy Smurf
By R5P
27th Mar 2024 08:57

Thanks for the replies its much appreciated. I think I am going to approach some local charities myself and see what happens.

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Replying to R5P:
John Toon
By John Toon
27th Mar 2024 09:53

Sounds like a great idea. If been using one of the large recruitment agencies to look for roles I'd stop immediately - they rarely know the market properly, they'll spray your CV around everywhere, and they're far from trusted by many on both receiving ends of the service.

ICAEW amongst others regularly post open roles in the sector on their website.

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Routemaster image
By tom123
27th Mar 2024 10:41

Have you thought about (state) education?

I moved from manufacturing to being CFO of a multi academy trust. I had a little bit of connected background, being a charity trustee and also a school governor.

Been in post 2 1/2 years now - and I love it..

Bit of a baptism of fire at the beginning - but that would be the same with any sectoral move.

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Replying to tom123:
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By FactChecker
27th Mar 2024 14:05

Like those parentheses in first sentence, Tom ... private sector might not retain the charitable status much longer (although earlier policies are being watered down as Labour realise they may soon be occupying seats on the other side of the House)!

But a very sensible suggestion that, also, might help OP to decide more precisely what is sought by a change.
There are so many more ways to slice the market than NFP/private/public (and each will contain different + and - points that will probably matter more than the generic label of 'charity sector', which of course is a broad arena anyway).

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By arandall
28th Mar 2024 11:15

I completed the exact move that you are contemplating about 12 years ago, and I am still at the charity although as CEO having 'upgraded' from FD about 5 years ago (just before pandemic!). From an accountancy viewpoint, the changes are minimal. One thing to come to grips with is the funding and the relationship with donors and donations. If the charity you work for has government contracts, then dealing with the public sector is a different ball game. Finally, charities have fund accounting and this can take a bit of getting used to, knowing the requirements of the different fund types, but is an important element in understanding how they work.

I did find working for a family business was helpful in settling into the culture that exists within charities and appreciating the importance of those working relationships.

I would approach charities direct if you can as your skills are definitely transferrable and you can bring a much needed commercial view of things. The other suggestion would be to become a trustee of a charity, which might give you an insight into how they work and the way they approach things, but this may take a while to accomplish.
Approaching charities direct is probably best I would say, but maybe use all avenues to explore opportunities.

If you can find a charity that works in an area of some interest to you, that always helps as you will become involved in their work in some way.

Hope this helps, happy to provide any further information or help if you think its worthwhile.

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By conker2
28th Mar 2024 15:57

I'd strongly suggest having a look on here https://www.cfg.org.uk/ and then joining the group.

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By FCExtraordinaire
03rd Apr 2024 08:39

Look for some voluntary work in any charity, keep an open mind as one thing may lead to another.

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