Directing a way forward

St Francis leprosy guild 

"David Saint came to us highly recommended and we would equally thoroughly recommend him as a catalyst for charitable organisations trying to find a way in the new constellation that the world has become. His research was very thorough, he was skilful in carrying our trustees along and his contacts and ability to find round pegs for round holes was invaluable. We’re delighted to have recruited Kieran."


St Francis Leprosy Guild (SFLG) is a Catholic charity founded in 1895 for the alleviation of the suffering caused by leprosy throughout the world. The charity donates annual maintenance grants to centres for lepers, run mostly by missionary sisters. Having suffered dwindling income for some years, partly due to public perception that leprosy was no longer a significant problem, the charity had a clear need to dramatically change its funding structure. In addressing this need, the leadership saw an opportunity to bolster the charity’s administration and explore ways to bring leprosy more to the public’s attention; for example, through collaboration with other leprosy organisations.

Having been recommended to SFLG by Aid to the Church in Need, Action Planning was given a brief to address the fundraising challenge, along with a number of other elements, including development of the organisational strategy.

David Saint began the fact finding process with a meeting of the Executive Committee, including the charity President, Michael Forbes Smith. He followed this up with telephone interviews with every trustee and then a review of both comparator charities and charities more generally to illustrate comparative fundraising strategies and spends. The findings of this research went into a fundraising report, together with recommendations as to how the findings might be used to inform the Guild’s future plans. David then facilitated an awayday with the trustees to work through a new organisational strategy, to inform future fundraising.

The fundraising report and comparators with other charities came as something of a shock to the trustees, but established some important principles, eg what really counts is not what you spend on fundraising, but how much you raise (net). The awayday served to bring the trustees on board with a new way of thinking. Following this, Michael Forbes Smith facilitated a second awayday, when a vision and mission were agreed and a fundraising strategy put in place. A key outcome was the decision to recruit an interim manager. Action Planning put forward an outstanding candidate, Kieran Kettleton, who was subsequently taken on as Director.

Consultant’s insight:
It is all too easy for charities to become set in their ways and keep doing things because ‘this is how we have always done them’. But this is an ever-changing world and charities have to constantly adapt to stay relevant in the services they deliver, and in the ways they generate funding and other support. It was a joy to work with SFLG’s President and trustees, who recognised that change was necessary and were prepared to go through the discomfort – and occasionally pain – of that change to refresh and refocus the charity, so that it can sustain and grow its support for its beneficiaries.

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