Leading in uncertainty

Peer support for charity and social enterprise leaders

We are running 90 minute drop-in peer support sessions for up to 10 charity leaders at a time, every week, from June 2021 – via Zoom. Attendees will have a safe space to share challenges – like increasing or changing demand, taking care of your team (and yourself!) after a difficult year, blending online and face-to-face, and managing multiple balancing acts. 

Join us for some time to pause and reflect, and to hear other leaders’ experiences of adapting to and coping with leading in prolonged uncertainty.  

‘The benefit of the IVAR sessions has been listening to how others have coped during this time, and I hope that leaders will give themselves the opportunity to reflect on what they have learned and works for them.’ 
‘It’s good for mental wellbeing and to have the opportunity to talk and share with others in similar situations’. 
‘Meeting others from a different geographical area provides the opportunity to be frank about challenges faced and therefore allows open discussion which can identify strong solutions.’
‘I found this space highly valuable to hear and empathise with other charity leaders grappling with similar challenges. I also enjoyed hearing about their unique context and specific challenges; it is great to get out of your own head and hear what is important for others; I learnt a lot about how other leaders approach their work and its pressures from these conversations. It prompted me to reflect on my own priorities and approaches.’

There will also be clear pathways to influence funder practices through IVAR’s Open and trusting grant-making initiative.

Sign up here.

Who is this for?

Leaders of charities, community organisations and social enterprises, based in the UK.

This Leading in Uncertainty initiative builds on the emergency support sessions which we have been providing since April 2020. Over 500 people have taken part so far; their organisations are active in 17 fields including the arts, criminal justice, education, equality, infrastructure and migration. For a feel for what the sessions are like, read this short blog from Patricia Kieran, Director of the Irish Institute for Catholic Studies.

What kind of space is it?

The precise focus of conversations is generated by the participants – you can shape what this needs to be, to ensure that the sessions are useful for you.

‘It was really powerful to be part of one of these sessions … incredible to hear about the wide range of experiences and challenges faced by colleagues and to identify together commonality within that diversity.’

The sessions are co-facilitated by IVAR staff and associates, all of whom have been supporting charity leaders across the UK since April 2020.

When are the sessions?

The sessions take place weekly, starting in June 2021, until April 2022. The first dates until September 2021 are available now, and new dates will be added every three months.

How do I sign up?

By visiting calendly.com/ivar-social-change. You will be asked four questions:

  • What is your registered charity number?
  • Can you tell us in 1-2 lines how this crisis has affected you and those your charity supports (to help with the facilitation of the session)?
  • Do you have any access requirements?
  • How did you hear about this?

The facilitators

What does IVAR do?

We are an independent charity that exists to strengthen the UK voluntary sector through action research, education and training. We work with very small groups that directly support the most vulnerable in their local communities, and with larger nationwide organisations – across the voluntary, public and funding sectors. We use research to develop practical responses to the challenges faced, and create opportunities for people to learn from our findings.

Why are you running these sessions?

In the current context of sustained uncertainty and unpredictability, we want to offer useful, relevant support to the amazing charity leaders who inspire us every day. We are providing safe, facilitated spaces for leaders to share what is front of mind, and to receive support. And during these sessions, we are listening – so we can learn about and make sense of the live challenges facing leaders, and help funders to understand how they can best respond. 

Please note:

The online support sessions are facilitated peer support spaces; they are not not information or advice surgeries. 

Through these sessions, we’re building our understanding of the live situation in the sector – and calling for funders to respond. So, as well as a safe space to share what’s on your mind, this is also an opportunity to influence funder practice. You can see examples of this in our briefing series and our call for open and trusting grant-making, which has been shaped by what we’ve heard from charity leaders. Rest assured that we won’t share anything without your consent.

We will be producing anonymised briefings to:

  • Inform UK-wide funders decisions about the kinds of support needed by the sector
  • Share advice for other voluntary sector leaders

You may also be interested in:

‘Stop changing the goal posts’

Supporting charities to navigate prolonged uncertainty

Read more Publication
Join IVAR as Director of Research
Read more Blog
‘Perfection was never achievable’ – Two Charity CEOs on leading in uncertainty
Read more Blog
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