After Umbrage

Sometimes as a small team, you look at your desk next to you, and you wish someone was there. Clare became that for us.

Giving caregivers the space they deserve

Juggling a charity with 6 employees is hard.  Tight schedules, limited funds, and a team running on overdrive. Founder Tara, responsible for managing every aspect, found the team stuck and unsure of their next move.

In a collaborative effort, After Umbrage’s narrative shifted.

Activities that were once consuming became assets. Strategic connections made new conversations possible. And by adopting new tools, we elevated the charity’s online presence.

Through our work together, we got to the heart of After Umbrage’s mission; to provide unpaid carers with the space they need.  How did we do it? Let me explain..

The client; everybody deserves a break

Caring for a loved one with a life limiting or terminal condition is lonely. In fact, carers are often described as the invisible army. 

With two locations in Bath and Northamptonshire, After Umbrage offers free four-day cottage breaks to those who need it most. 

They give carers a much needed chance to reconnect with themselves. 

The brief; bridging the gap between corporate and charity

‘We’re from the charity world and Clare is from the corporate world. She bridged that gap for us in a very positive way.’

Like many small teams, After Umbrage had its own strengths and skill gaps.

And whilst the day-to-day posed its own challenges, certain things needed immediate attention.

  • Critical funds from paying guests weren’t covering costs. 
  • Marketing lacked cohesion and a clear strategy at times. 
  • Navigating social media took up a huge amount of the founder, Tara’s time.
  • The organisation lacked visibility which was crucial in connecting with beneficiaries.
  • The messaging to three distinct audiences posed a complex challenge. 

After Umbrage’s key objectives were to:

  • Access funding to continue their mission
  • Offer a second cottage that was accessible to more people
  • To connect with their referral network and help more beneficiaries. 

And crucially, for those working tirelessly and often for free in the charity, to enjoy a calmer working environment.

The Journey 

Connecting with carers and referral network on social media

‘Time constraints were pressing, and as a team, we found ourselves drowning under the workload. While aware that working smarter was the key, we struggled to work out how.’

After Umbrage is reliant on connecting with carers via referrals from third parties (hospices, GPs, and other support organisations). 

That meant these third parties would bring beneficiaries to the charity, often through social media. 

It became clear that we needed to lean heavily on social media to build relationships, reach more people, and initiate conversations with potential partners while accessing critical funding.

Having a more thoughtful approach to social media also gave us access to  wonderful conversations with these third parties. 

These organisations so appreciated the support available to the loved ones of the people they cared for.

With my ongoing support and the team working together, what was once a time-suck became an opportunity.

Not to mention, a way for After Umbrage to shine a light on the incredible work they do.

Strategic Recruitment and Network Building

By implementing an assessment of the existing team and their roles and interests, we could see clearly what was missing and what was needed most. 

From there we had a clear path to recruiting the gaps and allowing the existing team to work to their strengths.

I played a pivotal role in recruitment, giving the team confidence to move forward with key hires such as Kate, the charity’s database manager and bookings expert, and Andrea, social media manager whizz.

Additionally, I facilitated introductions to other valuable contacts, fostering a network that continues to benefit After Umbrage.

Finding funding and the second cottage

Next came the ultimate balancing act, how to manage funds from paying guests to sustain the charity.

Whilst the team at After Umbrage managed to secure funding from fundraising and applying for grants. Marketing manager Tracy, managed to secure funding from the National Lottery which was a huge help. 

My introduction, Andrea has been supporting funding applications whilst Tracy has moved into the Trustee role. But her first task was to fund herself!

Exploring funding is a key part of my work with After Umbrage and many of my social enterprise and community interest clients. 

By establishing connections with organisations such as NatWest, GrowthWorks, and other business hubs it proved instrumental in After Umbrage’s access to both national funding and local resources in Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.

Kingham Cottage in Bath is in a beautiful location and always booked to capacity. However, we wanted to create a second location that was more accessible for those not able to travel to Bath and to Tara and her connections. 

The goal was about geographic reach which in turn became a mission to help more people in need.

Together we turned this vision into a reality. 

From complex messaging to a unified brand voice

On three platforms we spoke to three different audiences. The beneficiaries themselves, the support providers (hospices, and GPs) and the HR departments within organisations with caregiving employees.

Communicating with three distinct audiences posed a challenge. 

With my assistance, we transformed the messaging into a unified brand voice. This message could now resonate with support providers, beneficiaries, and HR teams alike.

Where we needed additional ad-hoc support, I brought in and briefed the relevant specialists. And where the charity couldn’t assist, we signposted to the relevant mental health and counselling services.

From Overwhelmed to Organised: and the famous Happy Hour

Through new tools, enhanced brand messaging, and time to think, After Umbrage was transformed from overwhelmed to organised. 

The charity became more efficient, reflecting positively on what’s worked well and being more productive with day-to-day operations.

And as we worked our way through a chaotic workload and battled the isolation of the pandemic, our strategic hourly happy hours were like personal therapy. As well as a place to review our progress and strategise our next move, our happy hours offered light relief. 

With my connection to the charity’s mission, our relationship transcended a traditional working relationship. 

“sometimes you’re with a small team and  you look at your desk next to you, and you wish someone was there. Clare became that for us. And I think the reason why we then built such a quick rapport was because our values were clearly aligned. She was all about kindness and about giving and understanding and caring as a ‘thing’. An experience had touched her life. So everything we’re about, which is supporting carers that are often described as that invisible army, really resonated with her.”

Reflecting on success and facing forwards

In our work together at After Umbrage, we all witnessed a transformation.

By unlocking local funding, we found the means to move forward. The second property marked a significant milestone, empowering After Umbrage to better serve their community.

And together we embraced new online platforms, tools that gave confidence and ease and reshaped the charity’s social media presence externally. Internally, we fostered a positive space for the team to come together and play to our strengths.

Our journey together has been about communication and letting the right people play to their strengths.

But it was also about moments of reflection. Finding the things we need and the things to let go of..

My connection with After Umbrage is testament to what we can achieve when we work harmoniously towards a shared vision; to give caregivers the space they deserve.

If you’re inspired by our progress and want to explore new possibilities for your organisation, connect here.

Your next chapter starts with a conversation.

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