Friday, 1 April 2011

A new beginning

So, 1st April is here at last.  It's a day of mixed emotions for me.

First up sadness.  Today is my first day of life after 
Volunteering England. Almost six years to the day since I joined Volunteering England I now find myself redundant from a job I loved, a job that gave me so much, a job that gave me a unique opportunity to help shape the volunteering environment in this country and abroad.

All told, yesterday Volunteering England had to shed twenty nine posts, just over half its staff.  Why?  

Essentially a loss of £1.1million of strategic grant from the Cabinet Office combined with the loss of hundreds of thousands of pounds of project funding (and associated management charges) as the government cuts start to bite. With such cuts on the cards it seemed pointless to continue into the new structure with the same number of senior managers as before, so my post was removed.

But I am not bitter or angry.  That was the right decision and I was fully involved in making it.  Not often do you effectively get to make yourself redundant.

It was the right decision because for the cost of all those senior managers Volunteering England could employ more great staff to deliver their work.

It was the right decision because Volunteering England has always put the volunteering movement before itself.  Sometimes that helps Volunteering England, sometimes it doesn't.  But it always helps volunteering and I remain convinced this is a critical factor in why Volunteering England is trusted and has the credibility that it does.

It was the right decision because the organisation needs to focus more clearly in the next couple of years, sometimes cutting back on areas of work it might previously have embraced, because that focus will ultimately lead back to growth for Volunteering England once the stormy waters of the current environment have been navigated.

It was the right decision because when senior managers of any voluntary organisation start to put their own careers and reputation before that of the cause which they serve then something has gone very wrong.  I’m proud that wasn’t the case at Volunteering England and I hope it isn’t seen in any other sector support bodies as the cuts really start to bite.

It was the right decision because of the new doors it has opened for me.

Which is why the other emotion I feel today is excitement.  Yes I might not be with friends and colleagues at Volunteering England anymore and yes I won't have the security of that pay-cheque on the 15th of every month but I am embarking on an exciting new chapter in my career.

Today I launch 
Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd.

Let me start by saying that I am not doing this simply because there is very little other paid work around at the moment.  My career plan has always been to move from senior management to consulting.  In fact ten years ago I was interviewed for the then National Centre for Volunteering’s magazine and I said that, in ten years time, I wanted to be a consultant and trainer.

Well, here I am.  Right on schedule.

My new career as a consultant and trainer is about engaging and inspiring people to bring about change.

Change, as they say, is life’s only constant.  It is all around us, enveloping every area of our lives and moving ever faster.  Coping with change is something I’ve learnt to get more comfortable with and I want to help others do that too.  But more importantly I want to help organisations and individuals get better at effecting change themselves, something that gets harder in a fast moving environment.

To do that people need to be inspired, to see that change is possible and that change is necessary.  And they need to be engaged in the change, to own it, to take responsibility for it and to effect it as well as they possibly can.

To engage and inspire people to bring about change Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd will provide expert support that is passionate about the potential of people.

The main focus of this work engaging and inspiring people to bring about change will be in volunteerism.  That’s the field in which I’ve built my career and made my name these last seventeen years.  I want to help organisations get better at inspiring people to volunteer, at engaging them in their causes to deliver real and meaningful change – for society, for volunteer involving organisations & their beneficiaries and for the volunteers themselves.  

I want to challenge, support, inspire and motivate people to think differently about volunteering in order to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  As Einstein said, “The problems we face now cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them”. 

How do we create new or re-engineer existing volunteering opportunities to meet the needs of potential volunteers who live increasingly complex and time pressured lives?  How do we do that without losing a focus on the benefit to our good causes?  How do we keep people volunteering with us when life makes it hard for them to commit?

If you struggle with the answers to questions like that then I want to try and help.

But I also want to help organisations and individuals in other areas.  Areas like change management, customer service, leadership, fundraising, policy and strategy, to name just a few.  All of these are areas I’ve had experience of working in during the wonderfully diverse career I’ve had so far.

So, I enter a new chapter of my life with one eye glancing back at the great years I’ve had at Volunteering England and another firmly fixed on what I hope will be exciting, rewarding and profitable years ahead.

If you want to find out more about how Rob Jackson Consulting Ltd can help you, please visit the website or get in touch.


  1. Good luck with your new direction Rob - although I am certain you'll not need any. Your hard work and expertise will stand you in good stead for an exciting and fun filled future. Welcome to the world of consultancy and training!'ll be even balder before you know it

    Andy Fryar
    Director - OzVPM (Australia)

  2. Hey Rob - We have had a few cyber-space exchanges over the past few months which I have appreciated. I have been following the UKVPMs newsgroup for a while, learning all the time.

    You repeat at length about the right decision for Volunteering England and yes, dire budget exigencies help us to focus the mind. I've been there, done that, in organisational change in the past, and I admire your positive and proactive approach.

    What bothers me in all of Big Society hoo-ha, is the loss of capital in our sector(the social, the people, not to mention the funding) of all the gains made over the last 30 years or so. Maybe you can assure me this is not so.

    New Zealand may not follow the UK as assiduously as in times past, but ideas and policies flow internationally these days, courtesy of that ubiquitous grapevine, the internet. So long may you promulgate and promote your best practice and good ideas on management of volunteers.
    Best wishes -