Concern Universal merges, changes name, relocates and launches new strategy

03 Nov 2016 News

Development charity Concern Universal has rebranded as United Purpose, moved to Wales, and launched a new strategy intended to disrupt traditional aid delivery and challenge the NGO sector to innovate.

International Inspiration, a sports development charity, will merge into the new United Purpose, and outgoing chief executive of Bond, Ben Jackson, will join as global director of innovations and partnerships.

The charity said it had several other mergers in the pipeline, and was “at an advanced stage of conversation” with at least two more organisations. A charity spokesman said the merger was driven by the idea that International Inspiration could retain its own brand identity but benefit from reduced back-office costs.

New brand ‘original and distinct’

The charity said the new brand was designed to have an original colour palette distinct from other organisations in the sector and to be attention-grabbing, the spokesman said. The new name was chosen because it effectively described the ethos of the new, merged organisation.

The rename and rebrand was provided completely for free, the charity said, by sister companies Destria Partners and Brand Pie.

Wales ‘better than London’

The charity was historically based in Hereford, but found it was too far from decision-makers and hard to recruit staff.

“There was inevitably a strong pull to relocate to London but we looked at a lot of cities and Cardiff came out as the favourite,” the spokesman for the charity said. “It’s got good transport links to London, and the Welsh Assembly was very supportive and agreed to make a grant underwriting some of the staff costs. The Cardiff City Council also provided a grant.”

Merger suited everyone

International Inspiration will continue to retain its own brand and its two staff. The charity had an interim chief executive who has already departed. London staff from Concern Universal will move into the International Inspiration offices in the short term.

International Inspiration chair Martin Davidson, former chief executive of the British Council, will join the new merged charity’s board of trustees. Another trustee, Katherine Grainger, the Olympic rower, will stay on as an ambassador for the charity. The rest of the board will remain involved as a “sports leadership team”. All the charity’s assets will transfer to the new merged charity but be held in a dedicated fund.

Kathryn Llewellyn, global chief executive of United Purpose, said the new organisation wanted to "have a bigger impact, to modernise and to streamline".

"To do this, we as NGOs need to change from within," she said. "With one billion people still living in extreme poverty, we can not dig our heels in and refuse to adapt to global changes. We need to cost-save, find alternative self-sustaining funding streams and use innovations to make our impact bigger and better."

For example, in Brazil United Purpose is supporting "pioneering" class lawsuits against perpetrators of child sexual exploitation, to fund services to protect children.



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