2017 – Why Not-for-Profits?

A few months back, I was chatting with business coach over coffee. Very early on in the discussion I mentioned that the heart and soul of Audacious Creative – it’s raison d’être – was to serve the not-for-profit sector with passion and integrity. He looked surprised and then asked me why. After I’d finished telling him my story his reaction was interesting. “Do you tell this story to many people?” I admitted that I did not. “Well, you should. You need to make this narrative the cornerstone of your communication stream.” And so, for the first time in over six years, maybe it’s time to publicly tell my story.

I trained as a magazine designer when I was 19 and I ended up working in a great job with great people in the West End of London. I experienced a profound and dramatic life-change when I became a Christian shortly after my 21st birthday. Life took a new meaning for me and, a year later, I took a year out from my job to do some voluntary youth work which I loved. 14 years later I was still doing church-based youth work!

During the last three years of my time as a youth worker, I launched and ran my own not-for-profit project with the remit to engage young people in schools and the community with faith. It was a challenging and exciting time and we ended up organising huge events – skater events, music festivals, conferences for young people and youth workers, social action projects mobilising hundreds of teenagers to serve the community. All of these events needed a marketing strategy, team management and fund raising and, over those years, we ended up raising £25,000 to put these events on and I also had to raise half of my own wage!

But there is a season for everything and I left youth work in 2009. Knowing I wanted to get back into the world of design, I interned at a charity for 10 months. They going through a rebrand and it was painful and frustrating process as the work was often late, badly done and not very creative. I was in the pub with my line manager one evening and I commented that there had to be a way by which charities could be well resourced by creative companies in a way that delivered what they really needed and entered into a genuine partnership. Nick’s response was simple. “Go and create that way.” Less than three months later, in September 2010, Audacious Creative was born with one core purpose: to make a difference in the lives our clients so they can make a bigger difference in the lives of others.

Since then we, as a business have worked with many charities – including the YMCA – and I have also been privileged to help a good friend set up a small CIC (Community Interest Company) and the wheels are now in motion to achieve full charitable status.

So why do I want to work with not-for-profit organisations? Because I know that we, as a business, are uniquely placed to help. Having run one myself for three years I understand how they work, the challenges they face (especially in the light of the Charities Act 2016) and, crucially, because I can talk their language. I know what it feels like to have a powerful message to communicate and a very small set of resources to work with. I know what it feels like to have to be accountable to a number of stakeholders and donors for the money that is spent. I understand how to run and manage teams of volunteers, some of whom have tons of passion and enthusiasm but need to grow their skill set. This is where my heart truly lies – it’s what I was made to do.

So there we go. I’ve held back for over six years from sharing my story in this way but it now feels the right time to get this out there, share my heart and see what happens next

One Comment

  • Nick Wilmot says:

    I’m humbled to have played a small part in the Audacious story, Stu. It’s a great vision, keep it up!

    (PS I fear the pub was most likely a day-time activity but maybe we shouldn’t admit that!)

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