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Fully Funded Training leads to stronger business connections, additional sparkle and creativity for fundraising consultancy business

Wigan based Keepace Consulting's mission is to lighten the load and add a sparkle of passion and creativity to fundraising activities. Established in 2020, the business has worked hard to gain a strong reputation in the fundraising world and has organically grown an impressive list of clients from both the not-for-profit and commercial sector with a sole focus on enabling charities to generate more income. Understanding that they needed to connect with the business community, they joined the Skills for Growth – SME Support programme to refresh skills and embark on their next stage of growth which would allow them to contribute even more towards shaping the future of fundraising.  

Working on a festival to bring charities and businesses together. 

Established in 2020, Keepace identified a gap in the market for fundraising assistance, guidance and support for businesses positioned within the VCSE sector (charities, community groups, voluntary organisations). Utilising knowledge acquired from corporate sector experience, the company’s drive is to achieve effective communication and knowledge transfers between sectors, to overcome not for profit challenges and succeed in the accomplishment of their goals. With their solid foundations and expertise, they joined the Skills for Growth – SME Support programme to embark on their next stage of growth and focus on unlocking the key to fundraising of the future at their Festival of Fundraising event in 2024. 

Holding the GC Business Growth Hub in high regard, thanks to previous interactions, steering and guidance, a referral was made from GMCVO to the Skills for Growth – SME Support programme.  Keepace Consulting identified a strong correlation between their business objectives and the considerable benefits associated with participation on the Skills for Growth – SME Support programme. Working with Greater Manchester based SMEs, the programme offers a choice of over 400 fully funded training courses, dedicated support from expert Skills Coaches and access to a bitesize e-learning portal, featuring over 2000 courses.  

Keepace were introduced to their expert Skills Coach Pam Mistry. Pam’s initial interaction involved gaining a deep understanding of the Keepace business by conducting a detailed business analysis. The purpose of the business analysis was to identify the workforce skills gaps within the business that are preventing it from achieving their desired goals, and to recommend the training solutions that can lead to growth. With the GM Skills Map showcasing the fully funded training options available locally, this dedicated training portal for Greater Manchester, provides signposting and reduces the time spent on researching.  

Working together with the client contact Clare, the outcome of Pam’s analysis presented three main aims and priorities.  

  • Leadership and Management Development - to have a defined structure in place that would consider all areas of the business from staff development to financial implications.  
  • Digital and IT – to expand knowledge to enable the business to take advantage of the social media opportunities that would assist fundraising activities as well as refreshing their website. 

  • Sales and Marketing – training and upskilling in this area would support the creation and execution of a defined marketing plan to promote the forthcoming Festival of Fundraising event.   

These Leadership, Digital and Marketing areas correlated strongly with the general training theme across Greater Manchester’s SMEs, since the resuming of ‘normal’ activities since the pandemic. Utilising the options available on the GM Skills Map, and in particular the headline skills training providers, Skills Coach Pam was able to refine the options based on her expertise and the specifications of the client.  

Training, Development and the GM Skills Map  

With the option of accessing one fully funded training course (per employee), the client chose to select the Leadership and Development programme. Participation in this programme encourages and promotes networking and connections, due to the course workshop structure. Helpful and easily digestible course content on the Leadership and Development programme, increased the acquisition of specialist knowledge, business acumen and strengthened the Keepace Consulting business network.  

Inspirational course leaders led to the enhancement of Clare’s networking skills because of increased knowledge, skills development, and considerable focus.   

From an employee perspective, the use of the Bitesize E-Learning platform enabled the team to upskill and develop their Digital and Marketing skills from the on-demand training options available on the portal. Benefitting from access anytime and on any device, these attractive bitesize options encourage employees to explore learning on their terms. 

‘There were so many courses available it was fantastic to dip in and out of the vast library of easy to access and highly educational modules.’ Victoria Jones, Keepace Consultant. 

The Results  

  • Participation in the programme has enabled Keepace Consulting to develop the skills of its employees at a faster rate than it would have done otherwise.   
  • As a micro business, the course structure of accelerator meetings and training created a supportive environment to share concerns, triumphs, and open doors to new opportunities. 
  • Keepace Consulting has expanded their network because of increased knowledge of the business community and the opportunity to meet others in the group workshop structure of the Leadership and Management programme. These opportunities would have been limited and lacked progression without the help of the Skills for Growth - SME Support programme. 
  • The employees within the business have benefitted from accessing the Bitesize ‘E’ Learning portal to enrich, develop and achieve their own learning aspirations. The courses featured on the portal also supported flexible working options with the wellbeing modules.  
  • As a result of participation in the programme, Keepace has enjoyed transformational benefits, as the business has identified opportunities and most importantly, new priorities in terms of growth.  
  • The business is now well positioned to focus on achieving their main aim of launching, promoting and succeeding with the Festival of Fundraising that will bring charities and businesses together in 2024 as well as serving their growing roster of clients from across the UK. 
  • The Skills for Growth – SME Support programme has been another GC Business Growth Hub success for Keepace, and further strengthens their status as a mentor, ally, and enabler for the business.   


"I knew about GC Business Growth Hub from accessing support with a previous business venture. It made perfect sense for me to access the SME Support programme as I wanted to connect with other businesses in the NW and understand more about how to scale my business. The advice has been brilliant, but more than that, it felt like I had an extended member of my team who had my back, cheered me on and offered sound advice as well as listening as I figured things out. The training opportunities were first class and I was able to share them with my employee, Victoria. It’s an excellence resource and an invaluable way to learn how to grow with ongoing support and accountability, something that is very helpful for a business leader." Clare Sweeney, Keepace Consulting

Looking to the future 

  • Participation on the Skills for Growth – SME Support programme has continued the strong link with the Business Growth Hub. With CSR and Volunteering positioned highly on their priority list for 2023, they have enjoyed an introduction to Matt Richardson, Social Value Lead at GC Business Growth Hub who will be a strong connection for the Festival of Fundraising in 2024. 
  • Keepace Consulting will continue to access the support, guidance, and opportunities available through the GC Business Growth Hub, with future focus on Sustainability, business development and innovation. 
"Clare was one of my first businesses I engaged with when I started with SFG team.  I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Clare and how her business operated and establishing how the programme of support offered through Skills for Growth could have the most impact – an amazing start to my role as a Skills Coach.   
We had a long and detailed initial meeting, where I was able to understand Clare’s business needs and her future plans. I was able to assess what training would be suitable for Claire as well as other support within the wider Growth Company which would help her business.  I recommended various training courses via the GM Skills Map for Clare to pursue. We kept in regular contact with each other, and I provided her with regular information and updates.  Her enthusiasm and passion for her business was so contagious." Pam Mistry, Skills Coach, Skills for Growth - SME Support 

About the author

Skills for Growth - SME Support

Skills for Growth - SME Support

Skills for Growth - SME Support is a fully funded, tailored service to help upskill your employees and improve business productivity.