Making a Lasting Difference programme for the Home-Start federation

I’ve been asked recently to describe a bit more fully how I work. This case study is a fairly typical example of how I work with membership organisations and funders to build their partners’ capacity and sustainability. You can find other examples in the case studies here and the services page here. Enjoy!

The programme below was designed with Home-Start UK in response to development needs identified by their members. It aimed to help improve people’s understanding of charity survival and sustainability – and their ability to take action. Three levels of involvement were offered:

1. Introductory workshop: reframing charities’ core sustainability challenges and introducing ways to manage them, with practical ideas and resources.

2. E-learning: two self-study online courses, backing up the core ideas and learning covered by the programme

3. Tailored programme of online learning and peer support sessions, structured around the five capabilities of sustainable charities.

The five capabilities of sustainable organisations: involvement, income generation, innovation, improvement, impact measurement

The programme is described from the perspective of Chris Wykes Driver from Home-Start below.

I came across Graeme’s work when I was researching models of organisational resilience. I was looking for ways to support charities within our federation who were swamped by the impact of the cost-of-living crisis, increased competition for traditional funding and other challenges to their sustainability. Graeme’s writing is accessible, honest and informed by practical experience of the pressures faced by charities.


The dilemmas Graeme describes are all familiar too, but:

the suggested remedies challenge common practice while also affirming what charity leaders know to be true – focus on what’s important, learn to say no, build capacity, connect with your community and supporters, measure and communicate your impact.

Graeme worked with us to design and deliver a year-long organisational sustainability programme. This began with an online introductory webinar for the network. He demonstrated excellent facilitation skills, built rapport with participants, delivered key ideas at an unhurried pace and encouraged questions, comments and interaction. This generated a lot of positive feedback and interest in the workshop series to follow. Despite a short window for applications, we were heavily oversubscribed for the two series of workshops that we offered. 50 people from 26 charities participated in the workshops over the year.

The workshops allowed space for deep thinking about each facet of organisational sustainability using the Lasting Difference toolkit as a framework. The blend of Graeme’s specialist knowledge and participants’ sharing was very effective and empowering. He was sensitive to the group’s interests and needs, negotiating where to vary the emphasis in each session.

We found that participants who engaged with the programme expanded their view of what sustainability means. They looked at their organisation’s strategy and operations from a new perspective, used the self-assessment and shared insights with boards and the workforce. Overall, they gained a deeper understanding of the need to balance impact and capacity and were more confident about communicating this.

The numerous resources on the Lasting Difference website are freely shared under Creative Commons licence. This reflects Graeme’s humility and genuine desire to be helpful.

Feedback from participants:

‘I thought [the workshops] were excellent. Some really thought-provoking work, excellent resources and they provided an excellent opportunity for networking, sharing good practice and learning from each other. I broadened my perception of sustainability for our Home-Start. I understand better that sustainability is holistic and feel like I have better strategies to help other colleagues get on board… We are planning how we can create additional capacity within our team, starting with a review of our outcome measurements. We will definitely use some of the self-evaluation tools to support other changes. Thank you for such helpful sessions.’


‘The focus for each workshop was clear but there was the appropriate level of flexibility and input from participants to make them meaningful and responsive to our needs. Graeme was extremely skilled in using his wealth of experience and knowledge to introduce new information when needed and there was also a good balance of learning from each other.’


‘I have really benefited from the workshops. It has made me decide to be more intentional about setting aside time to reflect, evaluate and make changes. As a lone manager it has given me the confidence to begin talking to my trustees about capacity and sustainability.’


‘The structure that Graeme provided was excellent. I really liked the whole approach. The framework helped us to work out where to start, and what to focus on. We have an action plan now!’


‘Excellent, thought-provoking, inspiring, focused, full of useful sharing with other Home-Starts.’

In short, I would highly recommend Graeme’s services!

Chris Wykes Driver, Network Development Manager, Home-Start UK