We enrich careers for voluntary sector workers

The RSA  ACEVO  NCVO  Charities HR Network

About Us

Welcome to Talent Exchange

Talent Exchange is a not-for-profit consultancy.
Our mission is to improve the careers of voluntary sector workers by raising standards and increasing options.


The UK voluntary sector employs nearly a million people (excluding volunteers) and over 60% of charity employees work in organisations of less than 50 people. Despite high levels of employee engagement charities typically lose about 20% of their staff each year. This is expensive in terms of costs of recruitment (£400m per annum to the sector) as well as the lost productivity (£2bn per annum) which affect levels of service/care to beneficiaries.


Talent Exchange works by:

  • Offering an off-the-shelf career and reward framework designed with leading charities.
  • Providing services that support best practice.
  • Enhancing the careers of sector employees by facilitating talent sharing between charities.


We are a team of HR consultants, specialists in our own areas, with years of experience supporting the voluntary sector.
Talent Exchange is set up as a Community Interest Company (CIC).



Talent Exchange is a people consultancy, shared service provider and innovative talent management platform. The consultancy is designed to improve the efficiency of talent management practices with off-the-shelf solutions. The service offered allow member charities to access professional support and employee benefits at low cost. The talent management platform enables charities to share their talent pools to create more enriching careers for their staff.

The Consulting Solution

The solution consists of a framework of standardised programmes, designed in consultation with leading charities, to improve performance, career and reward management.
The solution also includes programme management and annual support to develop a workforce strategy, plan activities that fill resource gaps, and manage the annual pay review.

The Shared Services

The shared services supplement the core solution. These include a range of services such as recruitment solutions, legal advice, managed employee benefits as well as leadership support and coaching. These can be accessed on demand.

The Talent Management Platform

The platform consists of an agreement between organisations to participate in a talent exchange, on terms they agree, that establishes a shared talent pool. This is facilitated by a technology solution that supports better career management through greater transparency of career paths and effective line manager tools.
We recommend that the agreement includes a commitment to align policies and practices related to careers, including the way people are rewarded and the benefits that are provided, to ensure an equilibrium within the consortium.



The process involves the implementation of the framework, delivery of the services, and collaboration through the talent exchange, supported by effective programme management.

1. Implementation

During this phase individual charities would implement the new framework. This would involve a talent review and job mapping activities. These would be used to benchmark pay and build a workforce plan. Participating charities would also have access to the benefit programmes.

2. Delivery

During this phase we would provide the core services to individual charities that support talent planning, career and performance management, as well as the annual reward review.

3. Collaboration

During this phase participating charities would agree to participate in a consortium and develop the rules for talent sharing. These would be collaborative activities, accelerated using template materials. At this time the career management platform would be configured and line managers would be trained on its functionality.

4. Programme Management

Every organisation would have a dedicated programme manager who would co-ordinate the delivery of the services as well as monthly programme management meetings to review progress and plans. Organisations that participate in a consortium would also attend a quarterly forum, and participate in an annual review process, resulting in a collective talent plan.



Strategic People Planning

Each member receives an annual review, to discuss the business plan and assess the organisation’s capabilities and gaps. This would include an evaluation of the ‘flow’ of people through the member organisation; an assessment of organisational diversity and goals; and consideration of the approach to build:buy:borrow:bind:bot. The output would be a strategic people plan detailing actions to align the skills of the organisation to the needs of the business, including recruitment and retraining needs. The annual review would be built off a comprehensive sector-validated job framework.

People Management

The people management process translates the strategic people plan into individuals’ actions and priorities. It enables the organisation to map people to roles and provides a framework for assessing their skills against the expectations of the role. The people management process is the foundation for discussions between individual staff members and their managers about the role they are in, their career path and the interventions and experiences required to move them along this path.

Reward Management

We manage our members reward programmes. Each year we collect market pay data from relevant surveys, benchmark all jobs, update salary ranges and work with each member organisation during the annual salary review. This includes an equal pay audit. We then submit your data back into these surveys. We have a particular pay philosophy that we recommend to members. In a consortium, all members must adopt the same benefits and pay philosophy. We are also able to source and administer their benefits at reduced rates.

Legal and Employment Relations Advice

We partner with Lewis Silkin, who have a team of dedicated employment lawyers providing telephone advice and support with contracts,handbooks and disputes. All members are provided with this service.

Leadership Development and Coaching

We partner with Amber Professional Development for leadership development and one-to-one coaching. Members can access this as required, on a pay-as-you go basis.

Consortium support and facilitation

Where members sign up to the talent exchange model we work with the participants to agree the terms under which the consortium operates. We support the consortium with regular reviews and annual planning activities.



Yes. The solutions are particularly suited to charities with under 250 employees.
No, the frameworks are available to individual charities. The decision to become part of a consortium can be made later.
That is up to the members and may depend on a number of factors such as size and location. We believe that around eight is optimum. Currently we believe that members should be similar in terms of the services they offer and their locations.
The members need to agree unanimously on the rules that govern the consortium such as levels of transparency and whether any rules apply when staff transfer. It is up to each charity to decide what additional services they would like to use. Other than that, the charities are free to operate as they wish.
The solution is available now and can be implemented in 4-6 weeks. The timeframe depends on the extent of the change and what level of employee consultation is preferred. Setting up a consortium will take longer. Once the members agree to participate, and assuming they already offer parallel terms, it will take 10-12 weeks to agree the principles under which the consortium operates and build a collective talent plan. Depending on the approach this may require additional employee consultation.
Probably not to implement the new solutions and service. Possibly if the organisation chooses to join a consortium. Ultimately it depends on the existing employment contract. Depending on the proposed levels of transparency employees may need to consent to the way their personal data is handled. Either way it is good practice to consult with employees about the changes so they appreciate the benefits and any implications.
That depends on what the consortium members agree. There are complexities linked to a model that allows peoples to follow a career through different organisations. They could remain with their original charity (wherever they work) or move to the new charity. This may depend on whether the move is temporary or permanent. If they transfer then their continuous service resets and this affects their employment rights. An alternative might be to set up a new charity, sponsored by the consortium members, that employs everyone. Or members could guarantee employment rights whilst employees stay within the consortium.
That’s OK. You just need to give us some warning to give us time to go through the process. It will be up to the consortium member to agree whether there are any other requirements or obligations. These will be agreed when the consortium is set up.
The consortium members would need to agree rules to mitigate against this risk. We believe that an effective consortium should be based on trust but if this is a concern we suggest a transfer fee arrangement might be one possible solution. Ultimately the consortium model should bring mutual benefits by providing greater career choices and enhanced career management which will result in fewer employees leaving the consortium as a whole.


Our Team


David Wreford


I’ve spent my entire career in HR, 12 year in corporate roles and then 20+ consulting, as a Partner at Mercer, mainly focused on reward and talent programmes. In 2011 I worked with MSF to develop their international pay strategy and have since worked with many NGOs and UK charities. But I’ve never worked in one so I recently studied the MSc in voluntary sector management at Cass Business School. For my dissertation I researched employee engagement in the sector. Pay came through as major issue so I’m now researching that for a PhD at KCL.


Julia Howes


I specialise in workforce planning and analytics. I enjoy helping companies develop smart, focused people strategies that have a tangible impact. My goal is to work with companies to pinpoint the few, specific initiatives that will build, reimagine and retain the people needed for business success. I draw upon techniques and approaches from workforce analytics, strategic workforce planning, design thinking and employee experience to do this. While this is a data-driven approach, it is ultimately about changing the hearts and minds of business leaders to ensure they are working together to build their workforce.


Ed Shrager


Over 15 years in OD at Alzheimer’s Society, the UK’s leading dementia charity (with 2,500 employees and 5000 volunteers) I’ve led programmes focused on the development of people as individuals, in teams and as an organisation. This has included; developing the culture of the organisation, creating and embedding values and behavioural frameworks, helping to create high performing teams through team development, embedding performance management, designing, delivering and commissioning leadership and management development, leading on the learning and development strategy and the people side of change management.




How much is enough?

September 2020

This reviews the nature of leadership pay in the voluntary sector. In particular how it compares pay in other sectors, the relationship between CEO pay and other workers, and the factors that appear to determine pay level. Finally, it proposes a formula that links CEO pay to living wage.

Click here to view


Employee engagement in the voluntary sector

September 2020

This paper reviews the theories behind employee engagement, generally and in relation to employment in the voluntary sector, and suggests that voluntary organisations face different challenges to other sectors., and that sector employees are looking for other challenges compared to employees in other sectors.

(Coming Soon)


A job for life?

September 2020

This report summarises our research into employee engagement in the sector, and considers subsidiary themes of leadership job design, career management, performance management and rewards. Working with four major charities and their employee the research explores the correlations between these themes and staff engagement.

(Coming Soon)


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