Earlier this week my family and I signed the papers and sold nfpSynergy to my colleagues and Co Managing Directors, Cian Murphy and Tim Harrison-Byrne. I am delighted. I am delighted because I have worked with both of them for around ten years now. I am delighted because I know the safe hands that they will be for nfpSynergy. I am delighted because after 20 years of thinking about paying salaries, finding new business, covering costs, and recruiting great staff, I will be handing that privilege and challenge over to someone else.
I am also delighted because I know that Tim and Cian have already done many great things for clients and the company, but they are also plotting more great things and they will be setting out their plans in a blog very shortly. So, I am sure the company will thrive in their hands and those of my many other brilliant colleagues.
There are many things that we have done at nfpSynergy which I am very proud of. We have published over 150 free reports for charities, most of which were funded by ourselves and driven by our passion for the sector. We incubated CharityComms throughout its early years: gave them free rent for over a decade, paid some salaries, and funded events, giving support probably totalling over £100,000. Over the last few years, we have supported the Association of Volunteer Managers with free office space and agreed to underwrite the cost of their first member of staff in the unlikely event it all went wrong (which of course it didn’t).
I am also proud of some of our less visible things. We have always paid full salaries for those on sick leave, for months at a time in some cases. We have funded counselling for staff with mental health problems. We have kept our interns with us for years, not months (Cian being a case in point when he started with us over a decade ago).
I am not leaving the company for a while. I will continue working on projects and doing research with the company for a year or two more. It has been a privilege to work with so many amazing people and organisations, and I hope to go on for a while longer.
But having spent 20 years working on nfpSynergy, I am now thinking about what to do with the next 20 years. I should think my name is on two-thirds of the free reports we have written, and one of the reasons I wanted to sell is to give myself more time to write (and grow my skills in other newer media!). In fact, I will be starting work on a report on the future of fundraising very shortly. Fundraising has been battered from many sides in recent years, so I want to look into how charities can grow the income they raise to fund the incredible work that charities do.
I’d like to find time to write more fiction too. As some of you may know, alongside the free reports, I have also published a novel set in the Lake District where I live. It’s titled Secrets of the Flock, published under the name J.B.Browne, and it’s won a couple of awards. You can buy it here from these two independent book shops - Westwood Books or Books Cumbria.
I also want to take on more trusteeships as well as other volunteer or non-exec roles. I have been a chair of nearly 10 different organisations and am now the Chair of my Parish Council. I am a big believer that as one door closes, another will open. Doors that would never have been possible while running and owning nfpSynergy. I am not retiring – I am just no longer the owner of nfpSynergy. I do have a new job title ( ;) - see below) and my nfpSynergy email will work for a few years yet. If you want to keep up with what I do next, you can follow me on LinkedIn, @saxtonjoe on Twitter, or ewe_chunners on Instagram.
To all of you who have worked with nfpSynergy and put your faith in an independent market research company specialising in not for profits – thank you. Please keep doing so! For myself, I am excited about what comes next.
Driver of Ideas (emeritus)