Payday Loans & Wonky Veg: Who’s Driving More Ethical Business? Consumers, CEOs or Government?

There have been two huge pieces of news in the last week that are worth people knowing about.

The first is news that price caps on payday loans are now in force: http://www.theguardian.com/money/2015/jan/02/payday-loans-caps-fca

It’s amazing that the regulators took no steps to provide protection to the most vulnerable and moved so slowly but at least now, in the midst of significant public pressure the first protections are in place. Exorbitant interest rates on loans that target those least able to afford exorbitant rates have been keeping people in poverty or dragging them into it unnecessarily. Things are getting better.

The second piece of news is that Asda is now going to stock ugly vegetable and sell them at a reduced price rather than throw them out/reject them (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/11320594/Jamie-Oliver-show-prompts-Asda-to-sell-cheap-wonky-veg.html).

Things have been evolving toward this for a while with supermarkets trying to pre-empt potential government interference and/or consumer fury by setting their own targets for waste reduction and transparency around it. This from Jan 2014 http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/supermarket-waste-seven-chains-including-3092194. But now Jamie Oliver has announced some level of victory as Asda have agreed to trial stocking foods that it would have otherwise thrown out because of aesthetics. This is a step on a journey that will no doubt have a major impact on waste levels.

So is business transforming society or is society transforming business? Both these changes came about through a mixture of consumer pressure, general public expectations changing and government and industries responding by realising that they need to change too. Regulators forced one of these changes while Asda can claim leadership in the other but in reality, it has been consumer expectation and public pressure that has led to both.

What are the next 10 changes we should want to see and how are consumers going to get organised to set them in motion in 2015?

An Advertising Adventure

At Frame Again we’ve just launched what I think might be a world-first advertising campaign, where we’re setting out to create an individual advert for every single customer over the next month. The first 100 went out today and we already have our first 10 shares.

Our press release is below – should be a really interesting insight into whether with no money we can come up with an ad campaign creative enough that a social approach gets us the traffic we need. Watch this space.

 

For Immediate Release: November 6th

Photo Framing Start Up Frame Again Launch Customer-Led Ad Campaign

Dragons’ Den Survivors & Crowd-Funding Success Story Seek to Reach 1m People Across UK With Zero Budget Campaign

Frame Again are today launching a global first advertising campaign seeking to reach a million potential customers without a penny of budget. Every single Frame Again customer will have their own unique advert designed with their photo at the centre.

Frame Again hope that this depth of personalisation will lead to mass social sharing and a campaign that will reach a million potential customers.

The campaign launches today (November 5th), with over 1,000 different adverts being created for customers over the coming weeks.

After surviving Dragon’s Den and turning down an unprecedented offer from Peter Jones, Frame Again Founders Jake Hayman and Joe Kenyon ran a crowd-funding campaign and successfully tripled their fundraising target.

Frame Again are an e-commerce business looking to revolutionise the photo printing and framing marketplace through their customizable, magnetic, square photo frames. Their service allows customers to upload a picture and have it printed, framed and delivered within 48 hours.

Jake said: We realized that when customers frame with us they are inviting us into some of the happiest memories or their closest family. This campaign allows each and every one of our customers to tell their own Frame Again story.

Others might worry about dilution and control – only having Photoshop-ed models associated with their marketing, but we’re proud of every customer we have – this is the future of advertising.

Joe said: Between Jake and I we’ve personally been in contact on the phone or email with every single one of our customers over the last month – we’re a tiny start up without the budget to compete with the big players – our only hope is to be innovative and to invest in every single customer.

Jake and Joe were both born and bred in Camden and previously worked together to launch education social enterprise Future First. Their work has earned Jake a Serial Entrepreneur of the Year Award, a Prime Minister’s Award for Volunteering and a spot in the Evening Standard’s 1,000 Most Influential Londoners.

Jobs Jobs Jobs…

I just wanted to share a quick note with a few great jobs going round:

  1. Ashoka are looking for a new Head of UK Challenge Prizes http://uk.ashoka.org/sites/uk.ashoka.org/files/Ashoka-UK-Head-challenge-prizes-jd.pdf
  2. Future First are looking for a Director of Operations http://futurefirst.org.uk/assets/Future-First-Director-of-Operations-JD-and-PS1.pdf
  3. Frame Again are looking for a Part Time Marketing Director to start in Jan/Feb 2015 http://frameagain.com/new-opportunity-at-frame-again-part-time-marketing-manager/
  4. BeyondMe are looking for a CEO http://www.escapethecity.org/organisations/beyondme/opportunities/7500-beyondme-chief-executive
  5. South London Cares are looking for a Income Development Coordinator http://southlondoncares.org.uk/blog/were-hiring-join-our-team-as-income-development-coordinator/

These are all great jobs and all open to people from non-traditional experience (ie. You don’t have to have worked in charity for 10 years).

There are also some interesting Acumen Fund UK courses going on, which are free if you want to look into them – Making Sense of Social Impact (click here) and Sustainability and Social Enterprise (here).

Please do mention that you got the reference from us when you apply and buy lots of photo frames this Christmas as http://www.frameagain.com 🙂

The Frustrated Philanthropist

Text from an article placed in The Sunday Telegraph Supplement, Sept 21, 2014

Philanthropy is evolving. More and more business people are becoming active philanthropists and more and more people from business are moving into the non-profit sector. Frustrated by the perceived inefficiencies of the ‘traditional charity’, philanthropists are seeking to drive ‘value’ from their philanthropy.

This approach, however, leads philanthropists to safe decisions, capped outcomes, and ensuing feelings of dissatisfaction. A move to ‘professionalise’ philanthropy has undermined the very role it exists to serve – to innovate.

Today’s philanthropists are increasingly stuck within a false narrative about the charity sector, believing a series of myths that are preventing them from having the impact they could have.

The first of theses myths is that charities without track records should not be trusted. This perception leads to the mistake of seeking charities only with well-known supporters and proven ‘social return on investment’ – we know it works. This is the investment equivalent of investing in a FTSE 500 company: safe, secure, virtually guaranteed results.

This strategy works well if your ambition is to ‘help some people’. You are almost guaranteed to succeed in this. But if you are giving away £50k to £5m a year and looking to make a major impact on national problems, it’s a terrible strategy. The purpose of philanthropy is not to replace, top-up or replicate government expenditure which invests using the same criteria: funding proven programmes at scale. Except whilst an individual or small family foundation might fund £25,000 or even £1,000,000 into a programme, government has billions to spend. The Department for Education’s budget is close to £50bn and yet foundations are springing up that replicate its mission statement and strategy almost word for word.

No, the purpose of philanthropy is instead to do what government is traditionally bad at – translating national services to local communities and innovating. The charity sector can go to government for contracting services at scale but it’s through early-stage, angel-style investment that high net worth individuals can make their biggest difference. £100k to a proven programme might extend its reach by 1%, while £100k to a new idea with no track record, could lead to the development of a new programme that government picks up and eventually spends tens of millions rolling out. The risk increases, but the returns do also and with the amount of social innovation currently taking place, it’s a buyers’ market for early stage ideas with the potential to have national and international impact.

Myth two is that charities are wasteful, and that waste is defined as dreaded ‘overheads’. A good business might aim for a 25% cost of sale, 75% gross profit, and 25% net profit. Sometimes this 25% net profit will be reinvested in growth and innovation. This is a strong operating model by anyone’s books. Yet the second we look at a charity, we lose all sense of what a robust organisation looks like and instead we seek charities that are operating at 80% cost of sale. It makes no sense. Philanthropists are unwittingly using their resources to stifle innovation and create under-resourced organisations that are incapable of growth. To really solve problems, the charity sector needs much larger amounts of money for testing, researching, partnering, and learning – we need to empower leadership teams, not tie them in to factory-style production. This can go for innovative big charities as well as smaller ones, but is most important for smaller organisations.

The third myth is that running grant application processes for causes you actually know very little about is a worthwhile methodology. Good angel investors base investments on their own expert insight into the market need for the proposed product/service, their faith in the leadership team to keep innovating, and the potential for exit.

Of course you want to see that work has gone into a business plan and programmatic plans, but the idea of making sure people enter into an agreement to stick to that plan – or indeed only making a judgment based on that plan – is not how angels make their money (not effective ones anyway). Yet in the charity world philanthropists are increasingly sponsoring programmes (activity that leaves little flexibility) and rarely backing entrepreneurs.

People are dictating how their money is spent because they don’t have confidence in themselves to make educated input on changes to direction and don’t have faith in the leadership teams they are investing into to either. This is a huge problem and stems from the fact that philanthropists tend to start spending before they start learning – when it comes to business they are savvy, do their research, look at competitors in the marketplace, understand how to judge leadership and yet when it comes to charity, they ask for a grant application, a ‘site visit’ and go to a charity ball. All this tells you is how smooth their fundraiser is and very little about the likelihood that the group of people you are considering supporting has the potential to make a critical difference to the problem that they seek to solve and, indeed, whether your money can significantly increase their odds of success.

We need philanthropists capable of making expert decisions, and the only way to do that is to meet experts, practitioners, read, and listen and – most importantly – spend real time with the communities you wish to serve.

Creating social change through philanthropy is hard. However, philanthropic failure should not be defined as giving to charities that have too high overheads, but rather as making gifts that constrain rather than enable.

The move toward ‘professionalising’ philanthropy and assessing a non-profit organisation with a balance-sheet approach is to misunderstand the role it plays in the ecosystem of change. Philanthropists don’t have the resources to reach market penetration of programmes so fund a solution for a fraction of a percentage of those that need it. So 12 months later when they find out they have had next to no impact on the national problem they care about, and the charity asks them for the same amount again to have another fraction of a percentage penetration against the problem, they become frustrated.

New philanthropists need to take the time to really educate themselves about the communities they care about, the problems they wish to solve and, most importantly, the range of solutions and ideas that they could test to have an impact. If they do this, then they might begin to have the confidence to back an idea that could change the world but currently sits without proof, without funding and therefore, without hope.

The Social Investment Consultancy helps individuals, businesses & families giving £50k – £5m to back ideas that can change the world. Contact CEO, Jake Hayman, jake@tsiconsultancy.com 020 7239 8935. www.tsiconsultancy.com

Careers in Social Change – Our Resource Pack

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Here at 338 City Road, my colleague Amir and I have been busy working on a starter pack for people interested in careers in social change/learning more about philanthropy/transitioning careers into the Third Sector.

We have come up with this pack (click to download), which is very much incomplete, has as much opinion as fact and is hopefully useful to anyone interested in the space… TSIC Careers Resources

880bn Photos: Is There Still Art In Photography?

Yahoo estimate that 880bn photos will be taken over the course of 2014. That’s 2.4bn per day, 100m an hour or around 1,674,277 photos a second. 

It’s about 300 times as many as were taken in 1930 and 100% more than just four years ago.

Consumer photography has changed. Endless photos, endless filters, endless sharing and displaying – online at least.

Compare that to when you had 24 or 36 shots on a disposable camera and could only count on two-thirds of them coming out – a time when you cherished the film running on to provide you those extra couple of photos you weren’t expecting.

As with everything, change has positives and negatives, and it’s easy to romanticise the past. The expense investment that used to be tied to photography demanded respect for the camera and the art of the photo while the process around installing and developing film meant you got exposed to at some of the science behind it. Each photo would be thought about before wasting a precious click on it.

Photos were taken to be printed. Some may never make it out of the photo draw but each would be reviewed and often collaged on a pinboard, framed or put into an album.

Today, Smartphones are outselling cameras 10 to 1, and with this change the need for patience and an appreciation of both art and science have been replaced with instant gratification. The ratio of photos printed to taken has been decimated and some would say that most people’s experience of photography is now artless.

But there’s another side to this argument. The thing is, not everyone had cameras. Photography was not socialised – the cost of cameras, buying film and developing prints made it a luxury that many couldn’t afford. Yes, the cost of camera phones may still leave photography out of the reach for some, but the percentage of people to whom photography has become accessible and affordable has grown exponentially (note statistic-less assertion here, but it’s definitely true). 

So more people are taking more photos and, with the rise of online albums, the opportunity to curate and share creatively remains. There are more and more popular editing apps so that ‘post-production’, which very few people used to be able to engage in, has become an accessible art form for a higher percentage of photographers. And people are still printing, they’re still framing and they want to be printing and framing more than they are.

Frame Again was launched to make the printing and framing process a better one than it has been – allowing people to curate photos through their frames, a new design of frame for smartphone photographers and a process that means we print, frame and deliver to your door – normally within 24 hours of your order. We’re extending the art form and making displaying photos as easy as taking them. The framing business has some catching up to do when it comes to responding to the needs of a new generation of photographers and a new era of photography. We’re loving playing our part in that. 

The cost of photography to the consumer has plummeted and the percentage of people it is open to has expanded. With a drop in cost for a single photo there has no doubt also been a drop in value. The question facing the industry is how we can embrace this, without losing touch of either the incredible art or science which photography can invite us to be a part of.

 

Jake Hayman is a co-founder of Frame Again, which has recently opened for business at www.frameagain.com. To offer words of support and praise to a young entrepreneur, please email Jake at jake@frameagain.com. For complaints and statistical inaccuracies, or if you just happen to hate our frames, please contact his co-Founder Joe Kenyon on joe@frameagain.com.


To get framing, please go to
www.frameagain.com and see what you think – just upload your favourite pic, choose a frame to match and we’ll print, frame and deliver next day.

Why Philanthropists Are So Frustrated…

As a consultant to philanthropists it may be predictable that I say this – but I think philanthropists are buying into a model that leads to very ‘safe’ decisions which lead to very modest outcomes and an ensuing feeling of dissatisfaction with their philanthropy.

There are four fundamental myths that most philanthropists seem to be working under which are outlined below, along with how to counter them.

The first myth is that charities without track records are not to be trusted. It leads to the mistake of seeking only established charities with lots of well-known supporters in order to guarantee efficiency and excellent proven impact monitoring. It is the investment equivalent of saying that you’d never want to lose your money in a business that fails, so let’s just invest in stock market listed companies who have already made it. 

If your ambition is to ‘help some people’ then this works as a strategy. However, for most of our clients who are giving away six or seven figures annually and want to make a major impact with their money, this is a terrible strategy. 

Suppose you are running a UK foundation that gives away £250k a year with the aim of providing equal opportunities for all young people to access education and reach their full potential. You support a bunch of proven programmes in this area and can count the number of beneficiaries per pound spent, but you feel like you’re not making any difference. How is that possible? Well, the truth is you may be making only a negligible contribution, because there is someone much bigger than you who has the exact same mission, that is investing in the same best-in-class programmes at over 23,000 times the amount you are giving – the Department for Education. Their annual budget is around £58bn.

This leads us to ask what is the purpose of government and what is the purpose of philanthropy. The purpose of government has to be to invest in proven programmes at scale, so that the best interventions around can be made as widely available as possible while ensuring taxpayer money is well spent. To make a real contribution, the purpose of philanthropy therefore cannot be to replace, top-up or replicate government expenditure. Instead, philanthropy needs to focus on doing what government is largely incapable of, namely  a) translating services to local communities, which government is very bad at and b) innovating new products, services and models (which government is also very bad at). 

Philanthropic capital – especially for individuals giving £100k to £10m/year – should be spent on risk and innovation. With this kind of money you can pilot new approaches, finance social entrepreneurs and monitor impact in order to subsequently inform government spending. Your £100k could unearth a new idea that could lead to tens of millions of pounds of government expenditure. But you have to risk it.  Like an angel investment. If we already knew the idea worked and we already had all the impact measurements, then government should already have taken it on.

The second myth is that charities are wasteful. This leads to seeking charities with the lowest overheads possible and insisting that funding should only be spent on programming. When I launched a charity, I was told that you should have 75% cost of sale and no net profit. When I launched a business, I was told that I should have 25% cost of sale, 75% gross profit, and 25% net profit to use for growth and innovation. The second model is clearly a better organisational model –  why we treat it as a cause for shame in charity when we call it good practice in business is anybody’s guess. More money needs to go to areas where charities have the ideas but not yet the answers. Meanwhile larger amounts should be going toward testing, researching, advocating, partnering and learning, rather than direct programming. Charitable expenditure is being skewed by bad funding and the sector’s impact is being limited as a result.

So the advice is that if you really want to change the world, seek charities with credible leadership teams but ideas that aren’t yet proven, and make sure they don’t spend more than 25% on cost of sale. Trust them.

The third myth is that you should follow your passion. This is based on the premise that people get the most satisfaction out of being involved with things they already care about. In ten years working with high net worth individuals, I’ve never seen this to be true. People are doing philanthropy because they get satisfaction out of fixing stuff – not so that they can be around problems. 

If I had two philanthropists, one who got to spend their entire time giving money to causes close to their heart without ever creating much difference, and the other who got to give to opportunities to create massive change in areas that they previously knew or cared nothing about, the latter is always more satisfied. Obviously if you can combine your passions with real opportunities to create change that is ideal, but it is wrong to simply assume that we should find things high net-worth philanthropists can support based on their passions rather than their ability to affect change.

The fourth myth is that the decision making processes we commonly use in this sector are of any value you should pick partners by getting applications, meeting teams and, if you are ambitious, visiting projects. I don’t believe any of these activities are anywhere near enough to help philanthropists make useful decisions.

I’ve spent ten years as a fundraiser, and so say this with all due respect to my fellow professionals, but I hate the role of the fundraiser – not always but too often their job is to convince you that their problem is the only problem, their solution is the only solution and their organization is the only organization.

Fundraisers can write fantastic applications, show you projects in action (or at least what they want you to see of them) and have you meet beneficiaries (or at least those they want to put in front of you). But that doesn’t tell you whether or not this is actually an incredible idea. For that you need insight. 

Creating social change is really hard. If there’s a gap to be filled it’s because in all the collective wisdom of everyone in this space in all the years gone past, we still didn’t make x, y or z happen. To judge applications you need to become an expert on the problem and you don’t do that by speaking to fundraisers – or even CEOs. You do that by speaking to experts with no money to raise, to other grant givers who have been where you’re looking to go, and by spending time with the communities you wish to serve. 

TSIC has invited clients to spend days with farmers in Rwanda, with social workers in Newham, and with primary school teachers in Camden. There has never been a pitch or a project at the end of it, just exposure to problems that there might be an interest to solve – in consultation with the key stakeholders and through insight into the worlds which people seek to change. Education about problems needs to come ahead of ideas for solutions – people think philanthropy is about giving away money but it’s not. I could give away billions tomorrow and make no difference if I was focusing on the Arts – because I know nothing about that sector. But give me a hundred grand and I can do incredible things for the school-to-work transition because I know the system and it’s failures and challenges because I spent last five years immersed in it through Future First.

This becomes even more important if, as per myth one, we aren’t looking to invest in proven solutions but in new ideas. To create systemic change, we need to be able to judge ideas, not applications. We cannot be limited by an absence of performance data, or an absence of a direct track record. The introduction of new ideas or concepts will invariably involve this. 

A lot of people think philanthropic failure is giving to charities that are too big and bureaucratic or – heaven forbid, – charities where fraud undermines your gift. But for me, philanthropic failure is being under-educated, over-precious and too risk-averse to put a money into an idea that could change the world but that sits without proof, without funding and therefore, without hope.

Jake Hayman is the Founder and CEO of philanthropy advisory firm, The Social Investment Consultancy – http://www.tsiconsultancy.com 

The £100m That Schools Miss Out On Each Year

There’s around £100m a year in donations former state school students would make to their old schools that currently sits relatively untouched.

The reasons for it are sad and frustrating in equal measure but it’s going to change soon, and amazing things will happen when it does.

£100m works out at around £30,000 for each state secondary school and college in the country. That’s a lot of school trips and breakfast clubs, a lot of kits for sports teams and new music, media and arts equipment that the school didn’t have the budget for.

Private schools and universities have known the value of an effective development (fundraising) function for a long time. If anyone thinks £100m is a stretch number, it’s worth considering that private schools, which make up just 7% of schools nationally, raise around £120m each year in private donations.

But they’re different, right? People who go to them want to give back while state school alumni never would. The data disagrees. At Future First, we recently commissioned some national research through YouGov (who are apparently very good at these things). It hasn’t been published until now, but it tells us that the percentage of state school alumni prepared to give cash to their old schools is competitive with that of private school alumni – around 30% against 39% in private schools. Given the amount of investment private schools make in creating a culture of giving, this is not surprising. 39% of private school alumni are willing to give to their old schools and, within the last 12 months, around 20% of that group have. 30% of state school alumni would be willing to make a donation to their old schools if asked, and yet only 1% of them have.

This is where people who either didn’t like their school or who believe only rich people can be generous try to fight data: ‘maybe they’re just saying that, but wouldn’t really give’. I don’t really know what to say to those people. Maybe it is true, though if I had to bet on prejudiced speculation or data, I’d probably rather at least start with the data.

Here’s a bit more of it: philanthropy is more a practice of the poor than the rich. Statistically, the poorer you are in this country, the more generous you are – the higher the percentage of your income you give to charity. Fact.

Universities raise somewhere around £500m each year from private donations, with alumni the most likely donors. The majority of university graduates went to state schools. As part of our research, we asked YouGov to ask university graduates from state schools if they would rather give a donation to their old school or their old university, they actually said that they would be more likely to give to their old school than their old university.

There are a lot of moving parts and the data doesn’t actually tell me whether it’s really £50m a year or £1bn a year that state schools could be raising.
So why isn’t this happening? It isn’t happening because:

• People are too tied to their prejudices – “poor people don’t give”;
• People are too tied to their own experiences – “I wouldn’t give to my old school” – this may be true but you could raise £100m off 10% of the population pretty easily so even 9 out of 10 people saying ‘no’ doesn’t mean this won’t work;
• We are terrible at fundraising as a country;
• No one is willing to pay for this – it’ll take consistent investment every year for a few years to make proper money, we need a Foundation/philanthropist to step up and pay for it;
• People are worried about inequality – will schools in rich areas raise more than schools in poor areas? There’s a chance that they will though more money for schools in poorer areas is surely a good thing regardless of what else is going on. It’s also worth considering the opportunity for leveraging matched donations for schools in poorer areas through e.g. corporate donors;
• Everyone tries to solve the problem with a website – what we’re talking about is creating a culture of giving, which will be a long and expensive programme.

Why is it happening?

• Some schools are taking initiative and already making this happen;
• Schools have always had a culture, particularly primaries, of bring and buy sales, community fundraising, etc.;
• There are more people than just alumni who want to give – local businesses, trusts and foundations, government grants, rotary clubs and even parents.

Future First is starting to look at fundraising support for state schools and colleges and it’s work in building alumni communities is the first step for any organisation.

Any schools or colleges interested in fundraising please get in touch as we have a best practice guide for fundraising for state schools and colleges at http://futurefirst.org.uk/assets/Future-First-Guide-to-Fundraising-for-Schools-with-Case-Study.pdf and more guides coming.

Jobs Jobs Jobs

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We currently have nine jobs going at 338 City Road so please have a look and share around the links if you don’t mind!

We’re looking for a Managing Director for Future First’s new international arm to start in September – we’re going to be launching an international charity to consult to governments on how to turn schools into communities globally and looking for someone to lead it (salary £40k): http://jobs.thirdsector.co.uk/job/367259/managing-director/?LinkSource=PremiumListing

We’re also looking for a Research and Advocacy Officer (£20-24k) – http://jobs.thirdsector.co.uk/job/367260/research-and-advocacy-officer/?LinkSource=PremiumListing

And at TSIC we’re looking for a Junior Consultant (£20k – closing date July 11th) – http://www.tsiconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/TSIC-Analyst-Autumn-2014.pdf and we’re also on the hunt for franchisees – people who want to join the TSIC family and launch us an office outside of our bases in London, New York and Dubai: http://www.tsiconsultancy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/TSIC-Franchise-Opportunity.pdf 

In the UK, Future First is recruiting for tech developers – the application deadline is passed but anyone interested can still be in touch: http://futurefirst.org.uk/assets/Developer-Senior-Developer-2014.pdf

And Future First is also looking for new Programme Officers (£20-24k) to manage relationships with schools round the country, supporting them to build their alumni networks. http://futurefirst.org.uk/blog/2014/06/13/future-first-are-looking-for-lovely-new-programme-officers-to-join-the-team/ 

Turning Every School Into a Community

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I set up Future First around 5 years ago to build alumni networks in state schools across the country for the first time. When we launched, barely any non-selective state schools ran alumni networks. Today, the number is approaching 20% of all state schools and colleges nationally. Alumni are coming back into schools across the country as work experience providers, career role models, mentors, e-mentors, school governors, volunteers and donors. It’s amazing to see the amount of previously untapped community altruism that exists around every school and college.

I was invited to a Downing Street roundtable on changing the careers services in schools 5 years ago where I was told the model would never work in the kind of communities we were targeting because there were no role models and that everyone who graduated those schools were ‘NEETS and criminals’. I’ve really enjoyed proving that to be total bollocks.

This year, I’m helping launch a new charity, Future First International, to advise governments, school networks, school leaders and education NGOs globally on how to incorporate alumni networks into different education systems. We’d never have been able to do that without the vision and support of the Open Society Foundations who took our idea, thought bigger than we did, and helped us build the foundations to take it global. We published a report with them at the end of 2013 into alumni networks and their global presence and opportunity: http://futurefirst.org.uk/assets/Every-School-a-Community-Report.pdf

If you want to make a donation to Future First’s work, it’s always welcome at https://www.justgiving.com/cffn/