As challenges grow for UK’s housing and homelessness charities, Oak Foundation launches pilot programme to harness expertise of professional volunteers

10 housing & homelessness charities in Oak Foundation’s portfolio of grantees to benefit from consolidated resources of Pro Bono Economics, Cranfield Trust and Pilotlight

Shelter estimates that 320,000 people in Britain are now homeless, an increase of 13,000 (4%) over the last year [1]. As charities and social enterprises gear up for this growing challenge, Oak Foundation’s new pilot programme aims to heighten the impact and sustainability of the housing and homelessness charities in its portfolio.

The programme will leverage the specialist skills of professional volunteers sourced through three partner charities: Pro Bono Economics will advise Oak Foundation’s portfolio charities on measuring and evaluating their impact, while Cranfield Trust and Pilotlight will offer coaching and mentoring and services in areas such as business planning, governance and financial management.  The pilot launches in early 2019 and will run for two years.

Oak Foundation has recognised that a collaborative approach is key to equipping its grantees with crucial business skills as they deal with the challenges of the operating environment and of building long-term resilience.

As Julia Grant, Chief Executive of Pro Bono Economics, says: “Pro Bono Economics, Cranfield Trust and Pilotlight have already helped thousands of charities to survive and thrive. By joining forces in this new programme for the Oak Foundation, we are creating a comprehensive advisory package for frontline charities in the housing and homelessness sector.”

All three partner charities have direct experience of helping homelessness and housing charities. This two-year pilot will, however, represent the first structured opportunity for the sector to leverage the in-depth expertise of skilled volunteers from such a range of professional disciplines.

Pro Bono Economics (PBE) will harness tools and insights from economics to help Oak Foundation’s grantees understand and improve their impact and value, while Cranfield Trust’s volunteers and Pilotlight’s members– management consultants and businesses leaders respectively – will help them develop their business skills and strengthen their strategic thinking.

Julia Grant continues: “Over recent years small to mid-sized charities have faced unprecedented financial pressures as government has cut spending to cope with record levels of debt.  While the number of homeless has risen and demand for housing has grown, many charities seeking to help this vulnerable group have seen their funding cut – or remaining static at best.

“Time and time again, through evaluation that applies proven economic and business principles and draws on the right data, we have shown that charities, armed with a solid strategy, can build resilience and make a more compelling case to funders. The team at Pro Bono Economics and our expert volunteers are looking forward to collaborating with Cranfield Trust and Pilotlight and to securing the future of Oak Foundation’s grantee charities.                                 

– Ends –

For further information, please contact:

SENSO Communications

Penny Lukats, 07775992350, [email protected]


References,000_people_in_br... (last accessed 07/01/2019)

About Pro Bono Economics

The charity Pro Bono Economics (PBE) harnesses the power of economics, to help charities and social enterprises understand and improve the impact and value of their work. Set up in 2009, PBE matches professional economists who want to use their skills to volunteer with charities. We have engaged with over 400 charities and have over 400 volunteer economists on our books. The charities we help cover a range of issues including education, employment, mental health and poverty.

PBE is a charity supported by high-profile economists.  Lord Gus O’Donnell is the Chair of the Board with trustees including Andy Haldane (Bank of England), Sir David Ramsden (Bank of England) and Clare Lombardelli (Director General, Economics and Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury). Our patrons include Dame Kate Barker, Lord Jim O’Neill, Robert Peston, Martin Wolf and Lord Adair Turner.

About Cranfield Trust

Cranfield Trust is a national charity and the UK's leading provider pro bono business support for the voluntary sector. In 2019 we celebrate our 30th successful year of adding value to the lives of people across the country, by providing free business skills to help build successful charities.

Every year our network of over 1,000 highly skilled volunteers from the commercial sector share their knowledge and experience with charities by providing independent advice and support on everything from business planning, to charity governance, and financial management.  

Over the years we have developed services to meet the growing needs of the voluntary sector. To complement our flagship Management consultancy service, we also offer tailored HR advice, mentoring and a series of topical masterclasses. We are able to deliver all of our valuable services for free, thanks to the generous support of volunteers, charitable trusts and foundations, individual givers, major donors, corporate supporters and legacies. 

About Pilotlight

We are an award-winning charity that connects Pilotlighters (our business members) with charitable organisations to unlock solutions that help charities become more effective and sustainable. Since 2003 we have worked with more than 1,600 Pilotlighters who have served as mentors and coaches for over 700 charities and social enterprises in the UK, all tackling disadvantage. Our fully managed programmes are time efficient, maximising the benefits for our Charity Partners. At the end of an engagement with us, charities have developed the business skills they need and the confidence to create long-term impact that better serves their community. Pilotlighters test and refine their leadership skills on real-time strategic issues through dynamic community engagements.

About Oak Foundation

Oak Foundation commits its resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged. With offices in Europe, Africa, India and North America, Oak Foundation makes grants to organisations in approximately 40 countries worldwide.

24th January 2019