CAP - Managing a Data Apprenticeship

Topic

[Employer]

For Christians Against Poverty, a UK-based charity, data-driven decisions are at the centre of their fundraising strategy. 

In October 2018, CAP enrolled their Data Analyst, Katie Smith, on a Level 4 Data Analyst Apprenticeship programme with Baltic Apprenticeships. 

Katie completed her apprenticeship in June 2020 and recently shared her experiences on our blog. We also caught up with Dan Kingsley, Head of Fundraising Operations at CAP to discuss the impact of this data apprenticeship on his department:

Q: What role does data play in your organisation?

Data plays a significant role in all areas of CAP. We're an organisation that wants to make decisions influenced by the data; by what we know rather than what we think. That's been a journey for us over the years, but now we do a lot of data work. We've got a whole RDI section and data teams within the client side of our organisation and our fundraising department.

Within fundraising, every single thing we do flows through Katie or the team to make sure that we're making the right decisions in the first place, but also that we're analysing things afterwards and understand what the impact has been.

Data is essential for us really - without it we're just doing things on a whim without knowing why, or if it's working.

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Q: How has your data team developed over time?

We've always done a bit with data in the team, with someone working on it part-time, around 2 or 3 days a week. This was mostly focused on day to day reporting, rather than detailed analysis, so we did a restructure and it's grown from there.

I started managing Katie nearly 3 years ago, and now our data team includes Katie full-time, another lady called Jenni, and we're thinking about recruiting someone else to take us to just over 2.0 FTE in total.

It's an area with so much potential for the fundraising section, and in other areas of the charity too. I expect our team will continue to grow over the next few years too.

Q: Why did you decide on an apprenticeship to assist with Katie's professional development?

From an organisational point of view, we wanted to grow Katie's skills, give her something to learn and grow within, and help her to become even better at her job. We had Katie in a role with us already and we wanted to upskill her and give her a development opportunity.

More broadly, we wanted to have a much bigger understanding of what we were doing around data to better understand our supporters. I think we've delivered on that in the last two years. We've take our data analytics work to a whole new level, primarily because of what Katie's learned on the apprenticeship.

The most important thing when we were discussing development options was that the apprenticeship we put in front of Katie was a good package - it was exactly what Katie was doing with her role. We could see it was going to give her lots of development opportunities and it felt like a good fit.

Related Blog: Getting Started with Data - Q&A with the Director of the National Innovation Centre for Data

Q: How did Katie progress professionally as she moved through her apprenticeship?

Looking back now, there's no question that the apprenticeship has given her the tools to do her job better.

It feels like the last few years have gone so fast! I say this to Katie near enough every time we catch up, but it really does feel like she's continued to significantly improve - taking us an an organisation to the next level. She has not just developed herself, but has helped to develop our whole fundraising and marketing section by taking our analytics to that next level.

Katie now sits in our Fundraising and Marketing Leadership Team, alongside me and our other Heads of Department. This shows not just the respect we have for Katie, but is a testament to the insight she brings to fundraising. I have no doubt that her apprenticeship played a huge part in this. 

Q: How did Katie progress personally?

Katie is always someone who wants to progress, and change, and do things better - but her confidence has grown. Now, she has the ability to go into a meeting and know that what she's saying is the right thing. There's definitely been a step up in her confidence and therefore in leadership. Leadership just flows out of the confidence that she now has.

Q: How  did Baltic Apprenticeships support you and Katie during the programme?

The Baltic Team were good. They had regular catch-ups with Katie and we'd jump on a call every now and then, mainly to say "Katie's doing great."

We never had any issues; I was confident in the direction that Baltic were taking Katie in, and the targets that were set gave me the confidence that things were going to go smoothly.

It was helpful to hear regular updates, and it was very easy. It didn't take up much of my time at all to be honest, apart from my normal responsibilities as a manager: checking in and helping Katie out.

Q: What role does your data team, and data apprenticeships, play in ACHIEVING your future goals?

It's really key. We've just come up with a 5 year fundraising strategy, which Katie played a key part in - helping us to understand what was possible. I don't think we could achieve our fundraising goals, targets and strategy over the next 3, 5, or 10 years without Katie and the rest of our data team. It's just too important.

I'm in the middle of recruiting for a new Junior Data Analyst, and I expect we'll use a similar process. We'll have that person in the role for a year or so, get them embedded into our team, and then we'll look at joining an apprenticeship programme. 

Apprenticeships speak of giving someone confidence and learning the skills to do the job well. For us, I think it worked really well with Katie - having someone who's already in the team. She could carry on with her day to day tasks while learning the skills to do the job better. I think that approach would work well again for us.

Overall, data has played a huge part in our fundraising and marketing division and will continue to play a huge part. The apprenticeship and the growing of Katie's skill set has been really important in that.  

Find out More

To learn more about Baltic Apprenticeships' data programmes, you can browse our course summaries here: 

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