British Heart Foundation marketing chief to leave in Covid-19 restructure

Charity expects to lose half of its income – about £60m – as a result of the pandemic.

Davidge: joined BHF in 2014 from Cancer Research UK
Davidge: joined BHF in 2014 from Cancer Research UK

British Heart Foundation director of marketing and engagement Carolan Davidge is to leave the charity next March after overseeing the merger of its fundraising and marketing functions.

Davidge, who has been in the role since 2014, has resigned, alongside two other BHF directors: Amanda Bringans, director of fundraising, who leaves at the end of October; and Jacob West, director of healthcare innovation, who leaves at the end of this year.

It follows a difficult period for the BHF, which expects to lose about half its income – about £60m – this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The charity anticipates it will lose about 300 roles following a collective consultation, but hopes up to half will be met by current vacancies.

Davidge told PRWeek: "It's been a very difficult time for the charity sector. Charities have lost huge amounts of money during Covid-19. The BHF is expecting to get only half our income this year; that's partly because all our shops were closed for several months, but also we haven't been able to run any fundraising events like the London to Brighton Bike Ride and all the other amazing activities we normally rely on to get income for life-saving research. Therefore we're having to make new choices about what we do and how we organise ourselves."

She added: "My resignation, combined with this situation, has enabled us to do things slightly differently. We're bringing together the marketing and engagement functions, which includes all of our comms and PR, with our fundraising team. That's quite common in the sector; other large charities have those teams merged already. I've been asked to stay on until March to bring together those teams."

About 200 people currently work within those two functions at the BHF, which is the UK's second-biggest charity.

Davidge said she plans to launch a coaching business next year for "aspiring leaders of the future" in both charities and comms, alongside a portfolio career.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive of the BHF, said: “The coronavirus crisis is the biggest challenge we’ve faced in our 60-year history, and our dedicated teams have left no stone unturned in trying to fight it. But we need to take bold steps to protect our life-saving work.

“Such a challenge brings into sharp focus the core of who we are as an organisation. The changes we’re making will accelerate work that’s already under way and will protect and prioritise our ability to fund world-leading cardiovascular research. The action we’re taking should give confidence to our colleagues, supporters and beneficiaries that we will maximise every aspect of what we do in pursuit of our mission to save and improve lives, and that we will thrive as the nation’s heart charity despite the challenges ahead.

“We know this announcement comes at a difficult time for our talented BHF team. While the decisions affecting my executive team have been taken, the implications for the rest of the organisation and the two new directorates are still to be agreed and initial proposals for how this might look will form part of the collective consultation.”

This article originally appeared in PRWeek

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