The Pankhurst Trust recently worked with our Full-time MBA students as a not-for-profit consultancy project client. In this article Francesca Raine, Fundraising and Development Manager shares her experience of working with the MBA students.
Francesca works across both sides of the organisation looking at everything from the development of the charity to outreach work in the community. “Pankhurst Trust formed in 2015 with the coming together of Manchester Women’s Aid and The Pankhurst Centre’ explains Francesca. “It was great to marry up these two charities, bringing together the fight for women’s rights through the suffragette movement and the work done with survivors of domestic abuse in the modern day.”
“Over the past three years we have grown massively, almost doubling our staff. We are running more outreach projects and we hope this growth will continue. But with this growth, other elements of the business have taken a back seat. We have not been good at keeping up to date with our marketing and social media, so the MBA students coming into the organisation was really timely for us. This area was something we knew we had to focus on, so it was great having this external input to get us on track and give us recommendations on how to do this.”
The Pankhurst Trust has done at least one other project with the AMBS MBA students, which looked into the profit of hiring out rooms. They enjoyed working with students, so it was an easy decision to take part in another project with AMBS.
Francesca said, “The project came at a great time for the organisation as this had been on our agenda for a while. With the two sides to the organisation, we have several social media channels and we do not employ anyone who specifically looks after them. We knew we needed a good social media strategy and it felt like we had a professional external consulting team come in and give us great recommendations. The MBA students gave us both a long-term solution and things we can implement quite quickly. The quality of the report they produced is something we are using internally and we already have meetings set up to discuss the findings with our senior management teams. Ultimately it is always helpful to have an external perspective on your organisation. We felt that we had all the benefits from external consultants without the outlay which was fantastic for us a charity.”
Due to Covid-19 the students did all their work virtually while in previous years visits to clients were regular occurrences. Francesca said, “It was a shame to not meet face to face, to show them The Pankhurst Centre and the work we do. But the students never let this bother them and they took everything in their stride with no problems. I was really impressed by the quality of the work. They were incredibly professional and the quality of the report was outstanding. We really couldn’t have expected better.”
Umar Mohammed from our Full-time MBA class of 2022 was one of the students who worked with the Pankhurst Trust. He said one of the main reasons he decided to study his MBA in Manchester was because of the experiential learning through the live consultancy projects. He said, “My group got off to a great start and got to know each other quickly. However, shortly after we started working on the project, one of the students in our group deferred her admission to the next academic year and so dropped out of the team. It was a shock to all of us, however, we made sure that it did not affect the team dynamic and continued on with the project. Working with a women’s charity is something close to my heart as I come from a female-dominated family and I was raised with strong values towards women.”
Umar explained the strains the charity was having and what his consultancy team added through the project work. “The Covid-19 pandemic caused tremendous pressure on the services provided by the charity. Isolation and lockdown heightened the risks facing victims of domestic abuse. People seeking help from the charity nearly doubled. In addition, the charity had to alter the way it provides services, introducing remote working conditions and socially distanced meetings. Furthermore, donations from supporters, which is the main source of income for the charity were down.”
“Our project was to analyse the current business model, complete a competitor analysis and provide a digital marketing strategy for the charity,”, continued Umar. “Given that they have a limited budget and capabilities, we had to look for the most cost-effective and efficient way for them to reach their audience. Based on our research and findings, we made recommendations in two branches: short-term fixes and long-term strategy.”
“Overall, I had an amazing experience on this project. I was part of a great team with members that supported each other and complemented each other’s strengths. I believe the client was extremely happy with the outcome of the project and had begun to implement our recommendations. Personally, I am happy with the work we did and our suggestions will help to make a difference in the lives of the beneficiaries of our client.”