Awards News

Small charity leaders are ambitious to meet demand, diversity and development challenges next year

In a show of confidence, small charity leaders are expecting to help more people, build business relationships and address diversity issues in 2020. This is in contrast to an ongoing backdrop of change and uncertainty.

  • Three in four (77%) small charity leaders expect to help more people in 2020
  • Financial forecasts are more optimistic than last year with 85% saying their income will remain stable or rise
  • Change is prevalent with over a third (37%) of smaller charities having restructured this year

These findings, based on research amongst 271 sector leaders, appear in the third Small Charity Leaders Insight Report, which marks the opening of entries for the 2020 Weston Charity Awards.


In spite of the challenges posed by meeting rising demand, only a third (34%) have invested in leadership training this year. However, charity leaders are actively pursuing other avenues of external support:

  • Two thirds (69%) say they are currently seeking professional pro bono support
  • Building partnerships with the commercial sector is identified as the most pressing skills requirement (listed by 51% of charity leaders)

Small and medium charities are actively engaged in addressing diversity deficits among trustees, staff, volunteers and donors providing another route for them to gain from new perspectives and a broader range of voices.

  • Nearly half (48%) of charity leaders are working on improving diversity and inclusion among trustees, with another 28% saying they needed to do so.

In 2014, the Garfield Weston Foundation established the Weston Charity Awards in collaboration with Pilotlight. In 2020, each of the twenty winning charities will benefit from a year of leadership coaching from a team of carefully-matched business leaders through the Pilotlight Programme along with £6,500 in unrestricted funding.

Philippa Charles, Director of Garfield Weston Foundation said: “The resilience of small charity leaders is remarkable and should be celebrated. Smaller charities tell us they struggle to find the time and money to invest in long-term strategy but they also fear the risks of failing to do so. That is why we are providing a package of leadership support and funding for ambitious charity leaders through these Awards to help them to help more people long into the future.”

Gillian Murray, Chief Executive of Pilotlight, a charity that matches the Weston Charity Awards winners with business mentors for a year of strategic planning support, said: “It’s incredibly tough for small charity leaders to find the time to plan for long-term improvements whilst dealing with day-to-day frontline challenges but there’s lots of evidence that doing so can transform a charity’s fortunes.”

Read the Weston Charity Awards Small Charity Leader Insight Report 19-20 in full here.