The Quilters’ Guild is the national membership organisation for people involved in patchwork and quilting. It is a registered charity and, although it has a Chief Executive and small staff team, the majority of its activities are led by member volunteers. This also extends to its trustee Board.

What: Charity; Company Ltd by Guarantee
When: Cohort 1

How The Quilters Guild describe their experience

of the Prosper North programme:

Enlightening – Beneficial Systematic

The Guild applied to Prosper North for a business adviser to work with the staff team and trustees, to prepare them for the next business planning round. The Chief Executive, Chris Gatman, has a strong business background but appreciated the need for external support – ‘it is important not to become too insular’- and had found previous projects with a business consultant to be extremely useful.

The Prosper North advisor visited the Guild and engaged separately with both trustees and staff, asking specific questions about the business. Their responses have supported the creation of the new business plan and were used to inform the questions for a member and volunteer questionnaire that ran during 2020.

Chris attended a number of the Prosper North workshops but describes her ‘light bulb moment’ as being the IKIGAI modelling session and its values-based approach to purpose. – ‘It helped me to see our organisation overall pictorially when we placed the individual cards – seeing where each of our activities fall in relation to each aspect of this model and enabling me to better express and share with the Trustees the central importance of our Museum Quilt Collection’.

The business plan for 2021/25 is nearing completion and has indeed placed collections at the centre of the Guild activity, with the three key strands being:

• To ensure the future of the organisation in the short to medium term and to lay a strong foundation for the future.
• Provide services, education and advice that match the diverse needs and expectations of our members.
• Promote and protect our unique collection of historic and contemporary quilts, making them accessible to our members and the wider public via a range of engaging and informative mediums.

During COVID the Guild were able to successfully apply for emergency funding and engage with their members remotely. They are now engaged in an ongoing conversation with their members and volunteers to foster a greater understanding, and confirm the organisation’s direction of travel. They have identified the need to change internally, with a new website and a dedicated marketing / membership / recruitment team. It is expected that the changes will take 18 months to implement.

Prosper North was a free programme funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, and delivered by Creative United in partnership with Key FundBates WellsSocial Investment Business. The programme offered a mix of free, tailored 1:1 business support, workshops, webinars and meetups designed to enable cultural heritage organisations in the North of England to increase income and impact, become more resilient businesses and explore social investment.

You can find out more about the Prosper North programme here.