London, Greater London (Hybrid)
£45,000 per year
Permanent, Full-time
Anonymous Recruitment
Job description
This organisation supports anonymous recruitment. That means hiding your personal identifying information, removing bias from the hiring process.

Introduction to the Sheila McKechnie Foundation

We are a small organisation with a growing profile and reputation as thinkers, innovators and capacity-builders in social change. We work to provoke new thinking, gather evidence, convene practitioners, sharpen strategy, and encourage greater collaboration. These are all ways we are working to orient civil society more strongly towards reform. 

Our vision is a more confident and powerful civil society where people work together to drive social change. We work right across civil society, from unpaid volunteer campaigners to big national and global organisations. We bring a wide view of social change that recognises its complexity, and that is combined with a deep commitment to social justice. 

Where we are in our journey

SMK is in an exciting place. A few years ago, we agreed an ambition to become known as experts in social change. Our Social Power report describes how social change is happening today, while It’s All About Power sets out why we need a new way of thinking about power to achieve deeper solidarity in driving that change. The tools in these reports are being used widely – by change-makers, funders and policy-makers – to challenge their thinking and develop new approaches. We want to help them go further.

We are unrelentingly curious, tracking and analysing the way that social change is shifting and sharing that knowledge so that it can be used across civil society. We look to people’s experiences as well as academic research, to contemporary commentators and historical examples. All the while, we stand up for campaigners, working to ensure they are able to shape their world without unreasonable constraint.

About the role

SMK’s envisages a confident and powerful civil society in which people work together to drive change. A core part of our work is to build the confidence and capacity of people and organisations - we do this through our training and consultancy programmes which operate as a social business, and through grant-funded capacity-building programmes.

Working closely with the Deputy Chief Executive (who has overall responsibility for income generation) and their team, this role will grow and effectively manage our training and consulting operation. You will also be responsible for overseeing and supporting the delivery of grant-funded programmes, including our grant funded 'power-informed capacity-building programme'.

SMK is one of the main providers of training to campaigners in the UK and has a popular and growing public training programme that you will lead, working closely with the Events and Programmes Manager who is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the training business.

Our training and consultancy is primarily delivered by a network of Associates, with SMK delivering more strategic consulting projects in-house, for example helping organisations reflect on their campaigning strategy. You will need to be able to understand clients' situations, and design projects and programmes to meet their needs. You will also need to put together appropriate teams to do client work and will be confident undertaking some projects yourself.

You will co-ordinate and develop our network of Associates, who are some of the UK’s leading change-makers, practitioners and commentators, and ensure that together we deliver high-quality training programmes and consultancy services.

You will also be involved in business development including representing and championing SMK, writing bids and responding to queries and tenders.

You will build and maintain strong partnerships and networks across the charity sector, and you’ll be comfortable working with audiences as diverse as grass roots community activists and senior campaign professionals. 

About you

There are a number of possible backgrounds that could be a fit for this role, and we are keeping an open mind. You could, for example, come from a consulting, training or programme management role, or have been involved in charity leadership, social enterprise or campaigning. Your experience could have been gained in a commercial or civil society environment, or both, because this role blends commercial disciplines with social purpose.

But whatever your background you will have the demonstrable ability to get to grips with the social change and campaigning sector if you’re not already in it. And above all you will need commercial nous, the ability to sell, the ability to manage programmes, and the confidence to influence and support clients. Ultimately, success for this role is about equipping civil society organisations, campaigners and activists to be more effective in making change happen. So, whatever your background you will need to show that you are ambitious about achieving this, and have the skills and aptitude to deliver.

Creative and dynamic, you will have the credibility to engage a room full of activists from a range of backgrounds and to build partnerships with prospective funders, commissioners and other stakeholders. Using your knowledge of change and strategy, you will develop creative and agile programmes and ensure they are continuously being improved in a fast-changing field. You will be intellectually curious and follow campaign trends supporting campaigners to thrive and win.

You will have a strong track record of collaborative working with stakeholders and will thrive in a small, busy and ambitious team, having the flexibility to handle a broad and changeable workload. You’ll be able to jump right in, will not be intimidated by the need to run a social business and deliver income, and will be able to work closely with the team at an exciting phase of our strategic development and organisational growth.

A hybrid work environment

We have shifted to a mix of office and homeworking, but our work hasn’t slowed down. Civil society organisations are already seeing that their role as change-makers is becoming even more critical.

Our staff team are currently based around London and the South East. We would welcome applications from other parts of the country, but our offices are in central London. You would need to travel to London for a minimum of 12 days per year for Team Days, Board Away Days and other essential meetings. We thrive on working closely together, so ideally you would be willing to meet team members at our offices for co-working more frequently, but we will be flexible for the right candidate.

Travel and accommodation for working at our London office is at job-holders own expense. Expenses incurred for SMK business outside London are covered.

Job description

As Head of Programmes, you will be responsible for overseeing our capacity-building support, ensuring SMK is delivering high-quality and market-leading campaign training and consultancy. You will be key in managing our stakeholder relationships, including our pool of Associates and funders.

This will include:

  • Manage SMK's training operations working closely with the T&C Programme and Events Manager
  • Continuous improvement and development of SMK's training offer in response to customer feedback and market trends
  • Overseeing SMK's Associate scheme (Associates do the majority of training delivery)
  • Manage SMK's consultancy operation, including overseeing the sales process and the portfolio of live projects
  • Help to develop consultancy proposals and deliver in-house projects, in conjunction with other senior staff
  • Maintain an oversight of all programmatic activity, advising and supporting other staff as required
  • Programme manage or sponsor individual major funded programmes as required
  • Support our grant-funded capacity building work, working with the Head of Power and Participation on planning, managing the delivery team, and managing the relationship with the funder
  • Put in place the systems, processes and working practices to allow SMK to deliver programmes effectively
  • Undertake any other duties as agreed with your line manager

Person Specification

We're committed to creating an inclusive culture where everyone can reach their full potential. We welcome applications from people in under-represented groups. To ensure that everyone can apply and be part of our recruitment processes, where needed we will make reasonable adjustments to accommodate our candidates.


*We’re interested in experience that’s both job-related or gained through other areas of your life 


  • A clear belief in the Foundation’s objectives
  • A passion for campaigning and change-making
  • The ability to manage a trading operation delivering high-quality training and consulting services
  • Commercial skills, including the ability to sell consulting work, and develop and market capacity-building services
  • Understanding of the systems and processes necessary to ensure effective delivery of programmes and services
  • The personal credibility and experience to lead consulting projects, and present to senior stakeholders
  • A team player, ambitious self-starter and a completer finisher.
  • Excellent project and programme management and organisational skills, ability to manage own workload effectively and take initiative
  • Experience of building and maintaining effective relationships with Associates, customers, and stakeholders
  • Willingness to work flexibly to meet the needs of a small organisation
  • Excellent written, interpersonal and communication skills


  • An understanding of the civil society and campaigning worlds, with a passion for understanding how change happens and following innovations
  • Experience of working with funders and commissioners
  • A track-record within training, consulting, programme management, or capacity-building, preferably within the charity sector
  • Knowledge of the following software: Office 365, Salesforce, Mailchimp, Google Forms/Sheets/Docs
Application Instructions

You will be asked to upload a cover letter and CV.

Your covering letter should be no more than two-pages (at a minimum font size of 11pt), and should address the following:
1. Why you want the job
2. How you meet the requirements of the role, as set out in the job description and person specification
Please note that generic application cover letters do not allow us to properly assess an application and will result in the application being screened out.

SMK is committed to being an equal opportunities employer and encourages those under-represented in the sector to apply.
Interviews will take place on Monday 25th July 2022 via Zoom.

More about Sheila McKechnie Foundation

Part think tank, trainer, convener, and champion, SMK is facilitating a new approach to civil society – the people and organisations outs... Read more

Posted on: 22 June 2022
Closing date: 18 July 2022 at 09:00
Job ref: Head of Programmes role
Tags: Training, Project Management

The client requests no contact from agencies or media sales.