No longer a one-digit kid

15 July 2019

In 2019, Pro Bono Economics hit an important milestone – we turned ten. And what a year it has already been.

What do you do when you hit double digits? You throw a party of course and start thinking about the next milestone, Pro Bono Economics going digital!

I felt it fitting that we announced our ambitions here with a speech from our co-founder Andy Haldane at the Royal Society on May 22nd.

He had us cast our gaze towards the challenges that will really impact charities in future, offering advice on what they should be doing now to prepare themselves (his full speech can be found here).

This felt especially relevant as we continue work preparing our new online training module.

Once up-and-running – hopefully later this year – it will be a real game changer for us. It will help us share our learnings, built over the last decade, with more charities who need help making the most of their data.

Beyond these plans, the speeches, the party, our project work continues apace and this year has seen us engage with some truly amazing people and causes.

In March we put out a report with Hestia, a charity that helps people in times of personal crisis. It looked at how a failure to support children exposed to domestic violence could cost UK taxpayers up to £1.4bn (see here).

Around three months later, Damian Hinds, the Secretary of State for Education, announced that his Department would be making it easier for children in need to move schools, as reported by the BBC (see here).

By using economics to shine a light on the scale of problems such as this, we can help charities not only ensure their own viability, but give their campaigning efforts real punch. This is a place Pro Bono Economics will always aim to be.

Another is at the heart of the debate on wellbeing. This is a passion of our Chairman Gus O’Donnell and his enthusiasm is contagious. He has every right to label current obesity levels among our nation’s children a “ticking timebomb” for public health. His warning is, I feel, given more impetus by work that we are doing in this field.

A survey of 840 teachers that we commissioned from YouGov in the spring showed a genuine appetite to boost physical activity levels in schools, and flagged ways in which this could become reality (see here).

I take a great deal of satisfaction from seeing Pro Bono Economics engage in these debates in a way that is credible and benefits from the experience we have built up over the last ten years.

What those years have given us – the successes but also the challenges, and there have been many – is an ability to understand where we can really add value, not only to charities, but also wider societal debates.

I am proud to have led this charity throughout its Anniversary year and am already looking forward to ringing in the rest of 2019 with more great work like this.

As ever, please do reach out to us, if you would like to help us on our journey.

See you in the autumn.

Julia Grant

Chief Executive Officer

Julia joined PBE in April 2016, with over ten years’ experience as a charity CEO. She joined Impetus-PEF in 2011 as Portfolio Manager and was acting CEO from 2015, playing a major role in the development and implementation of the Impetus-PEF strategy during and after the merger. Previously, Julia led the National Gardens Scheme and was CEO at Surrey Community Action. She currently holds two Ministerial Appointments and is a Trustee of the Education Development Trust.

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