The Portfolio Executives

Emma Ives

  • Specialism: Fundraising and communications – That’s everything from strategy and planning, organisational budgets, right the way through to grant fundraising, event fundraising, individual fundraising and communications including social media in the Charity Sector.
  • Track Record: Mission Aviation Fellowship, Habitat For Humanity, Samaritans Purse, Spurgeons Children’s Charity, Scripture Union, Reach Community Projects and Salvation Army.
  • Offer: I conduct a fundraising and communications audit, to understand the current picture. Using, for example a SWAT analysis, to identify strengths and weaknesses we would then work together to develop a strategy and a plan and develop budgets appropriate to that.

    I help clients to think longer term because sometimes I find clients have unrealistic expectations about what they are going to achieve in a particular time frame and sometimes they need to extend that beyond one year to three or five years, so I help them with that as well.

    Once we’ve got those parameters in place I then either coach their existing staff, or indeed volunteers, if they’ve got those capabilities in house. If they haven’t I, or one of my team will, support them to do that work until they’re at the point where they can afford to pay for someone to come in house and do it. It’s all about capacity building longer term.
  • Emma says: “I help small Christian charities by building their capacity to enable them to grow beyond what they would be able to do on their own. “
  • Try me (
I initially explored the Portfolio Executive workstyle as I felt that working for one organisation may be quite blinkered and I enjoy the variety of working with different clients with different challenges. I also felt that the smaller charities in the sectors, particularly the Christian ones, were struggling to get up to the next level because they didn’t have the know-how and they couldn’t afford external support in the way that larger charities can. I felt particularly impassioned about wanting to help people in that arena that were keen, would work hard, but just needed that extra little lift to help them get up to the next level. I was working for a charity already so they agreed to take me on on a freelance basis for a while until I managed to build my portfolio up a bit. I also contacted organisations who had been advertising on charity job websites to propose the idea of perhaps not having someone in house but having someone external to support instead and the benefits that that can bring in terms of less liability. In more recent years, it’s mainly been word of mouth. I think taking on Mission Aviation Fellowship as a client and working with them to write their impact reports, which was to go out to large funders and major donors was my first early success, because it wasn’t just a question of writing something, I had to help them think through exactly what it was from an external point of view. Reach Community Project is a more recent success where I have helped to nearly triple their income over five years. I think one of the things I’ve learned is early on you need to you need to really understand the clients and what their capacity is to actually grow because some people have that ambition but they just don’t have the prerequisites in place. Also, to ensure that the client understands this isn’t a question of just passing stuff off to someone externally, it is a question of they are going to have to do a lot more legwork themselves but the benefit to them in the long run will be enormous. This style of working gives me a nice variety of work. I’ve never really been one to want to manage lots of people. I’m very happy with providing something envisaging and strategy and support on that side of things, I get to do the things that I love the most, for example the writing and the strategic side of things. I’d like to try and help do more on the capacity building for more clients. Obviously, I’m limited in terms of the number of clients that I can take on. I’m working with someone at the moment and we’re hoping that together we can try and build a process that would help smaller charities to be able to build their capacity in a way that’s really going to be affordable for them.