Case studies > Skills sharing > Business planning

London Gypsy Orchestra and Henry Abraham

Image of the London Gypsy Orchestra Group

In 2014, Small Charities Coalition were approached by Anne Malcolm, the Chair of the London Gypsy Orchestra. This small charity performs traditional music from Eastern Europe and the Balkans and aims to inspire and educate people in Gypsy music and culture.
Anne got in contact with us when the charity was going through a difficult time, and was in need of a new business plan to ensure the charity could continue. Anne was soon matched with Henry Abraham, who is a third sector consultant as well as the Chair of a small charity called Siblings Together.
The match with a fellow charity Chair, Henry, gave Anne the chance to work through the issues faced by her charity. Their cooperation started with a face-to-face meeting and an in-depth conversation with Henry about the charity’s current situation. Following from this, Anne and Henry maintained contact via email.

Reflecting on the experience, Anne said:

Meeting Henry was an incredible help precisely when I needed it. Most crucially, Henry advised that the situation I was facing is one that many charities come to face at some point, and that while it can be a daunting prospect to lose the energy and vision of the founding member, the charity can still continue and develop. It was hugely reassuring and gave me the encouragement I needed to persevere with exploring a future for the orchestra – something I was determined to do for the sake of the members.

The match was a positive and rewarding experience for Henry, too, as he gained unique, first-hand insight into the charity sector. The match sparked some ideas for approaching his consultancy work, too.

Henry described his match experience saying:

It was a valuable reminder of the importance of understanding the key people and their priorities when considering strategy options. (…) I also found the process helpful in making me think about the balance between formal, structured processes for giving consultancy advice, and a flexible, informal, discussion-led approach.

Thanks to Henry’s ongoing support, Anne now had the courage to more actively involve members of the London Gypsy Orchestra in planning the charity’s future together.

Henry suggested, and confirmed my own belief, that members should be involved in planning for the future. As a result, we have held a couple of sessions facilitated by Orchestra members themselves to explore what members want from the Orchestra going forward. It was great to see so many Orchestra members showing an interest and getting involved in forging a future.

The match has now led to a new business plan which will be implemented in September 2014. This will put the work Anne, Henry and members of the London Gypsy Orchestra have done into practice.
Anne and Henry both were very positive about recommending the service for fellow small charities and potential supporters.

From a charity’s perspective, Anne encouraged charities to seek support when it is needed, saying:

The matching service provided invaluable support for me as chair and in helping secure a firm way forward for the London Gypsy Orchestra. If any other charity is facing difficulties, it is always helpful to talk things through with others who have experience of similar matters and I recommend the Small Charities Coalition as a means of finding an appropriate mentor.

From a supporter’s perspective, Henry outlined the benefits of the experience:

It’s a very flexible service which can be structured to meet the needs of both sides as required.  And a great way of leveraging the experience (sometimes painful!) one has built up over the years for positive benefit.

Match completed in May 2014

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