Consultancy for charities
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Consultancy for charities

What is consultancy?

Consultancy is when a person or organisation gives professional advice on a subject they’re highly knowledgeable in. They offer a service that is specific to the organisation. First, the needs of the organisation will be looked at and will establish the following:

  • What is the organisation struggling with?
  • Where is the organisation ? What is keeping the customer awake at night?
  • What areas have they specifically asked for help with?
  • Are there environmental factors that can affect the organisation in the near or distant future?

Once these questions have been answered, the next stage is to establish what the best course of action is to help the organisation, based on their requirements.

How can the best possible service be provided to the organisation, based on their needs? A good place to start is by looking at what you have to offer the organisation, what is at your disposal that can offer a solution to their needs?

Next, looking at what you can contract in to offer a solution. For example, if they need to save money on their electricity, do you have a supplier to hand that you know can offer a cheaper service, or will you have to run a tender process to find a cheaper supplier that can still provide an excellent service?

There are many advantages to consultancy, the biggest being that it provides you with a service that is specific to your needs and if you work with the right company, you can be working with someone on a one-to-one basis, so they really understand your needs and the vison you have for your organisation.

A much-changed funding landscape…

As of January 2021, there were over 169,000 charities operating in England and Wales, and whilst they are all delivering invaluable services for their beneficiaries and communities, they must compete with one another for funding.

With cuts to funding showing no sign of reversing for the foreseeable future, charities will need to prove that they are a safe place for public donations, for commissioners to spend their budgets, and for foundations to get the most impact for each pound granted.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created real pain for charities that rely on their retail operations for income, with non-essential shops being forced to close for extended periods over the last 18 months or so. This has resulted in significant a reduction in income for many charities despite their high street presence.

Some good has come from the pandemic. Studies show that 59% of the public donated to a charity during the first lockdown, with the likelihood of public donations rising by 12%. Although this is a welcome development, it won’t replace the funding cuts from government, trusts and other bodies, meaning charities need to look even harder at reducing their indirect costs; this is where bespoke consultancy comes in.

Funding after lockdown

The funding environment for the third sector has changed over the last 18 months or so because of the impact of Covid-19 and the closure of the retail sector for long periods. But the truth is that the available funding for charities has shrunk in recent years, and charities have to think more than ever before.

 It’s not enough to concentrate on fundraising and income: efficiency of operation and achieving value for money in the cost base is more vital than ever. This is where better procurement, even small changes and improvements, can produce value and improve the bottom line.

Still, a lack of procurement knowledge, or the available funds to employ procurement specialists, can lead to an organisation haemorrhaging cash that could be used delivering core services.

What is procurement?

“Procurement and supply management is the process of acquiring the goods, services and works that enable an organisation to operate in a profitable and ethical manner.” (CIPS, UK). It involves the ‘whole life cycle’ of the product, services or works, from identifying the need, to defining the specification, agreeing terms, seeking quotes/tenders, awarding, and signing contracts through to contract management and eventually product disposal or decommissioning of services. Ensuring you have professional expertise, support, and best practice tools to review and manage your procurement process is vital for securing the best value for money and in turn generating benefits that reduce cost, save money, time and effort.

How can procurement help a charity?

Good procurement can slip between the cracks and get put on the backburner for many charities, simply being viewed as a ‘back office’ function with no defined strategy or responsibility. There is so much going on, with little resource that it’s hard to find the time to go through a proper procurement process.

It’s difficult to put the effort in to finding suppliers that offers the best value for money and cultural fit. Management of suppliers and contracts can also seem like a luxury when resource is tight.

Many charitable organisations do not have a person, department, or team that is dedicated to procurement. This increases the risk of spending more than is needed for supplies or services through duplication of procurement across the charity or without a single organisational procurement strategy.

Procurement can help a charity by recognising areas of overspend and rectifying the problem. It can reduce the risk of contracts becoming ‘evergreen’ and an organisation paying over the odds for supplies/ a service because it’s with a supplier that they are used to working with.

Ultimately, procurement can reduce spend for charities so they can put the saved money to good use.

What will change if a charity invests in consultancy?

Procurement for a charity is always changing. A charity can face a constant fluctuation in funding, regulations being continuously updated through law changes making it very difficult to have a failsafe plan to follow every time they need to review or renew a contract.

Further to this, increasing supply issues and risks are causing difficulties which can have the potential to become very real and dangerous risks to a charity being able to function effectively and normally.

Charities that do invest in procurement expertise and have a procurement strategy and process often give commissioners and grant-making organisations the assurance they need to award grants and contracts to those charities; but it is also recognised that smaller charities do not have the expertise needed.

Many charities don’t have the surpluses required to employ a procurement team or professional, and resources are concentrated on achieving their charitable objectives. Procurement consultancy can help charities realise savings, additional income, and free-up resources to concentrate on the delivery of core services.

Where can procurement support be accessed?

Without the funds to employ a permanent procurement specialist, charities are turning to external support from trusted procurement providers like 2buy2, either through engaging for one-off projects for large procurements or on a ‘retainer’ basis where support can be ‘called on’ as and when required.

Those charities that do invest in external support can be assured that the initial cost is outweighed in either cashable savings (from good procurement) or efficiencies elsewhere. A good procurement professional will always produce value.

Every charity is different, from the staff that keep them running, to the cause they are dedicated to, and the awareness members of the public have of the charity. When every charity is different, they are going to have different needs, which is why 2buy2 can tailor our procurement support package to suit each individual charity on a bespoke basis.

Procurement services that can help

Our charity procurement services and support in a range of ways:

  • Supplier and Contract Management which can help manage and measure the impact that your suppliers are having on your organisation.
  • Spend Analysis – which benchmarks your current contracts and rates to other suppliers to ensure you are on the best deal
  • Contracts Register – our unique online tool acts a central repository of all your contracts and spends so that you are in control and can plan your future procurements
  • Tendering support – We can provide an end-to-end collaborative procurement process for any procurement need. We have an in-house category team full of category experts that cover a broad range of types of goods, services and works procurements
  • Procurement Strategy and Process – We support a number of charities with reviewing and updating their procurement strategy, procedures and process
  • Training, Coaching and Development – We provide training and coaching sessions either to whole teams or individuals on a one-off or ongoing basis
  • Energy Management – We can manage your entire energy estate and can work with you to get you on the best energy deals
  • Retainer support – call on us for any procurement support as and when needed
  • Reviewing bids and applications – where procurement is a key factor, we can review your funding applications and bids to look at how you can improve procurement
  • Social Value – with Climate change, Modern Slavery and other social value factors becoming increasingly important, charities recognise that their procurement practice can be scrutinised and as such we can support you with embedding good social value into your procurement strategy, processes, and outcomes.


Charities, like any other organisation, face a lot of obstacles they must overcome and competition for budget. For example, maintaining core services whilst looking for savings and efficiencies in processes. Employing a dedicated procurement resource can be difficult and, in some cases, completely unviable.

With bespoke procurement support through 2buy2, a charity can access help when it’s needed, and the specialist will bring with them the knowledge and experience necessary to deliver what the charity needs at that point in time. Whether that’s running a tender for specific goods, services or works, or setting-up of supplier/contract management processes, for example

We offer professional help and expert advice that charities can use once or continue to apply to further procurement exercises.

For charities with established procurement functions, our support can provide additional resource at busy times, or category specialism to address a specific need, or act as a ‘critical friend’ to ensure that all policies, processes, and procedures are tuned to the needs of the organisation – particularly following a period of turbulence and change.

For any charity that wants to save time, money, and effort, or needs to align activities with winning bids, then 2buy2 has the answer.