St John Ambulance is planning a new strategy to boost its fundraising after cuts to its funding from the NHS.
Speaking to Charity Finance magazine, director of finance and corporate services Jo Keaney said the charity is currently a “sleeping giant” in fundraising terms and will launch a “big, bold” strategy to boost this source of income in 2019.
The charity has appointed a number of new staff to senior roles in recent months, with chief executive Martin Houghton-Brown joining in January last year.
Since then, the charity has appointed Rebecca Mauger as director of fundraising, Richard Lee as chief operating officer and Sarah Duthie as director of priory and international affairs.
Keaney said Mauger was working on the strategy to look at ways to grow the charity’s fundraising income after it has suffered cuts to some NHS services in recent years.
She said: “For us it’s around more specialist services, more supporting the A&E and 999 services. So we still see growth with the ambulance part of the business, just with slightly different models and slightly different strategies.
“We recognise that some of our contracts have been reduced, so we’re looking at how we can still improve our impact and outcomes through investing in fundraising.
“Martin has brought in director of fundraising Rebecca Mauger from British Red Cross, so she’s working on her roadmap and strategy now, and we’re looking to have a big, bold strategy next year.”
Keaney said that while most people know that St John Ambulance exists, having seen the charity at one of the 22,500 events it provides support at each year, many did not realise that it is a charity.
She says: “We’re a sleeping giant and we’ve got a real opportunity within fundraising. So we’re really excited about what that can mean to us because the more money we’ve got, the more money we can put into our output and use to help our beneficiaries.”
As a close partner of the NHS, St John Ambulance has indirectly felt the effects of the health service’s budget pressures in recent years.
According to the charity’s recent accounts, it cut 260 staff to leave it with 1,500 in the year to December 2017, having cut 160 the year before.
The charity said this is due to a 28 per cent reduction in demand for its ambulance services from the NHS.
Keaney said that in one lost NHS contract in particular, the charity ended up losing about 100 people.
She said: “Obviously in our own annual report we talk about how we have had challenges within our ambulance business which reflect the challenges the NHS has had around primary finances. We have seen some downsizing in a number of our contracts, where the NHS just basically couldn’t afford to keep them going.
“Lots of other providers have been impacted by that. It’s never nice when you have to get rid of staff, and when we have to we will always try and redeploy people. For example, some people may have ended up in our ambulance partnerships and are now more involved in supporting our events side.”
Subscribers to Charity Finance magazine can read the full interview with Jo Keaney here.