Alex Skailes, Centre for Charity Effectiveness
Alex Skailes, Director, Centre for Charity Effectiveness

Alex Skailes
Director, Centre for Charity Effectiveness (CCE)
Bayes Business School (formerly Cass), Faculty of Management
City, University of London

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The past decade has witnessed a whirlwind of change and uncertainty across the globe. Despite these challenges, the UK’s charitable sector has continued to make significant contributions to the philanthropic field. To thrive in this ever-evolving landscape, charity leaders must continue to adapt and develop, meeting the cascading demands of their roles.

A pioneering research project, led by the Centre for Charity Effectiveness (CCE) at Bayes Business School (formerly Cass), City, University of London, is taking a proactive stance by investigating the critical attributes that charity Chairs of the future will need to embrace. This ambitious initiative brings together a diverse array of thought leaders and experts in the sector to delve into this vital topic. The research methodology encompasses roundtable discussions and in-depth interviews with contributors, culminating in a thought-provoking report set to be launched in Spring/Summer 2024.

The Bayes Centre for Charity Effectiveness leads this project, with funding from the Higher Education Innovation Fund, additional sponsorship from Green Park Recruitment and support from strategic partners including the Association of Chairs and Crowe UK LLP.

Research Objectives and Impact

This research project has set forth several key objectives:

  • Shaping Future Leadership: The project aims to provide insights that will shape the future development and recruitment of charity Chairs, ensuring they possess the requisite skills and attributes.
  • Sustainability and Governance: By highlighting long-term considerations for board discussions, the research contributes to the future sustainability and impact of the charity sector.
  • Influencing Best Practices: The findings intend to inform regulatory measures and best practice guidelines within the sector, emphasizing the ever-evolving nature of charity governance.
  • Value of Governance: The project underscores the critical value of effective charity governance, emphasizing its continuous evolution to remain relevant in a rapidly changing world.

A Decade of Change: Anticipating the Future Charity Chair in 2033 and Beyond

The journey of the CCE Future Charity Chair steering committee commenced in July 2023, when representatives from diverse charitable organizations convened to share their invaluable insights and experiences. Reflecting on the past decade and the profound changes witnessed, the workshop sparked discussions about the skills and attributes necessary for future charity Chairs in 2033 and beyond.

The decade between 2013 and 2023 brought seismic shifts that reshaped our world. From political transitions to technological advancements, the pace of change was relentless. We adapted to living in a state of perpetual crisis, moving from one transformative event to another. This relentless change underscores the need for the charity sector to thrive amid uncertainty, making it crucial to explore and understand the evolving role of charity Chairs.

A pivotal workshop with Good Innovation provided an opportunity to examine the disruptive elements likely to impact the sector. Representatives from various charities engaged in fruitful discussions, touching on topics such as Artificial Intelligence, climate challenges, funding dynamics, stakeholder expectations, and regulatory changes. While the sector’s diversity remains evident, common threads emerged, offering valuable insights.

Key takeaways from the workshop include the evolving nature of leadership, with discussions on movements, networks, and collaborative and generative leadership. Sustainability, succession planning, and the focus on collective impact were also central themes. Emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and ongoing personal development were highlighted, as was the importance of trust-building, vulnerability, and team empowerment. The necessity for increased diversity was recognized, including a focus on less visible forms of diversity. The increasing importance of creating social value from outside of the sector was also part of the debate, with more corporate entities seemingly entering the space once uniquely occupied by charities.

As this research project advances, with individual interviews and further roundtables, these initial findings and reflections will be explored in greater depth. For those interested in contributing or learning more, please keep an eye on the project’s website.

NACC Member Representative

Alex Skailes is a senior academic within the faculty of management and Director at the Bayes Centre for Charity Effectiveness (

Alex is an experienced strategy and finance director with a successful track record of advising and leading clients in the nonprofit and private sectors. She believes passionately in the power of cross sector working. Alex has combined the first class skills and expertise gained from her earlier senior career with PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deutsche Bank with a period of post graduate academic study and consulting work focusing specifically on the nonprofit sector. As a result of her cross sector experiences, she is able to harness best business practise and strong commercial experience with leading edge thinking for a sector that is currently undergoing transformation.

Alex specialises in strategic and business planning, feasibility and options studies. She teaches and co-leads the main core module ‘Resource Management in the Voluntary Sector’ on the MSc Charities programme. She has a particular interest in mergers, collaborations and sustainable business models and was a founder member of the mergers and collaborations advisory group within Bayes’ Centre for Charity Effectiveness (Bayes CCE) in 2014. In 2018 Alex joined the Executive PhD programme. Her research focuses on merger and acquisitions within the social purpose organisations, an exploration of the resultant social value created and the factors that drive this form of organisational change.

As a Director at Bayes CCE, Alex leads the team of core directors and associate consultants. The team are expert in nonprofit management, have senior cross sector career experience and come from both practitioner and academic backgrounds. The Centre is a leading nonprofit and philanthropy centre in the UK and overseas and delivers a world class blend of postgraduate master (MSc) degree programmes, research, consultancy and leadership development programmes both in the UK and overseas.

Alex is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (FCA), holds their post graduate diploma in charity accounting and has an MSc with distinction from Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) in Voluntary Sector Management. She holds a BA from University College, London. Alex is a Fellow of both the Royal Society for Arts, Manufacturing and Commerce and the Royal Geographical Society and is a Freeman of the City of London. She is on the finance and audit committee of The Seckford Foundation, former Chair of Community Action Suffolk and is a member of the International Women’s Forum UK branch.