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Consulting may not be a bad word

I come from a consulting background or at least one of my backgrounds. To that extent I am usually very cautious about the use of consulting individuals and organisations. Both large and small have different issues – using larger ones you can get a ‘cookie cutter’ approach where they cut and paste a solution they used elsewhere. With individuals or small organisations they often are out of work management types who often dont have the rigor of a proper consulting service. There are plenty of these around at the moment due to economic circumstance.

Yet I think the sector does need professional help in developing strategies particularly around sustainability of their ventures. But perhaps consulting firms can be social enterprises themselves. The Cranfield Trust in the UK is an interesting example. The Cranfield Trust is a nationally respected charity providing free management consultancy (financial, marketing, strategy, IT, HR)  for charities and social enterprise groups. Particularly those  involved in issues of poverty, disability or social exclusion. Highly skilled managers from the commercial sector act as Trust volunteers throughout the UK. Founded at Cranfield in 1988, The Cranfield Trust now works with a growing number of leading international business schools to encourage volunteering amongst their alumni.  

What a great idea! Their services are ones that the sector is badly in need of but often can’t afford. These volunteers usually have an MBA or similar level of education. The work means that they delivered £1.5 million in consultancy services worth in the UK last year, through funding that comes via their own ‘Smart Trust’ which involves philanthropists that support their cause. Another idea for Ireland?

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