In our recent Gearing up for Growth webinar, we spoke to Lucy Kendall, CEO of COCO (Comrades of Children Overseas), an international charity based in Newcastle upon Tyne. We discussed current labour market intelligence, as well as employability and how the charity sector is tackling new challenges that have surfaced due to COVID-19.

Lucy has worked in the charity sector for 17 years, working her way up from a volunteer to a position of leadership, shaping the development and direction of COCO’s fundraising, governance and project management.

What does the charity sector currently look like?

As we cover our weekly job market insights across all industries, things seem to be slow and steady and we predict recovery to be at the end of 2021 at the earliest. There has been a recent increase in jobs adverts for accommodation, food services, construction, digital and education roles, and according to, vacancies in the charity sector rose by 1356% between June and July this year.

Lucy said this information correlated with what she was hearing within the industry and that although most staff in the charity sector were furloughed, they are starting to bring employees back and keep people communicating.

How did COCO navigate lockdown?

As lockdown hit the UK, the COCO team all went onto the furlough scheme, apart from Lucy, who has been working from home. As with many professionals across a whole range of industries, Lucy said: “It was a shock to the system. Just IT issues and getting everything set up to run everything from home. And then once you’ve got your head around that, it’s the loneliness of not having your team around you.” 

Next steps for the charity sector

When discussing how COCO are planning to move forward, Lucy placed an importance on digital skills and staff training. To ensure employees can still carry out their job role, but in a new and more technical way, COCO have invested in upskilling their team.

They have also made the decision to leave their head office in Newcastle to work from home on a more permanent basis, whilst still making the time to meet up as a team. This is likely to be the case for many local charities across the UK.

Digital skills in the charity sector

The charity sector as a whole has a huge need for digital skills, because more fundraising needs to be done virtually online. In regard to using social media for fundraising, Lucy said: “to have the knowledge of how to understand the analytics behind that is essential.”

It’s also important for charities to ensure their websites are up-to-date and social media posts are more frequent and scheduled. This need for digital skills is encouraging charities to upskill their staff, as well as look for new employees with a broad range of digital skills.

To watch the full Gearing up for Growth webinar and find out more about the charity sector, transferable skills, insights and more, click here.

Geek Talent are very supportive of the Charity Sector as part of our core value system, particularly during the current pandemic.

Please support our Operations Director Helen, who will be walking Hadrians wall to support COCO next weekend.

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