Features > The developing agency

09 June 2016 | by Megan Cornwell

The developing agency


The Catholic aid agency is emerging from a tumultuous time of job losses, structural change and financial reorganisation. Now staff hope to refocus on their core vision

Discovering that your new employer is about to undergo an extensive restructure expected to result in the loss of nearly 50 jobs is not what you want to hear one month after starting work. But that’s what happened when I joined Cafod, the aid and development agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, in October 2014. The organisation, which two years earlier had celebrated 50 years of steady growth in its mission to alleviate poverty and campaign for global justice, was experiencing serious challenges of its own.

Cafod, one of half a dozen substantial international aid agencies in Britain, has long depended on funds raised by Catholic individuals and parishes, as well as on government grants. While Catholics stayed remarkably loyal despite the financial downturn of 2008, the charity faced a change in funding from the Government. Since then Cafod has been rethinking how it is managed and its purpose. Some of that rethink has led to an outcry among Cafod supporters, concerned about job losses and changes at diocesan level.

Cafod has now reached what, in consultant-speak, would be called the “embedding new ways of working” stage of its organisational revamp in response to these challenges. The finishing line of what has been a difficult and painful three-year process is edging closer. So what has changed and why? Having since left Cafod, I caught up with Geoff O’Donoghue, 55, a former consultant in change management who joined the organisation eight years ago, to find out.


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