Special Interest Groups: Interview with Sue Sharp, chair of Airmic’s charities SIG

Published on Wed, 20/10/2021 - 16:58

In the latest in a series of interviews with the chairs of Airmic’s special interest groups, Airmic News talks to Sue Sharp from The Children’s Society, who chairs the charities SIG.

Charities are usually categorised as belonging to a single sector, but they come in many different shapes and sizes, leading to some diverse points of view.

Airmic’s special interest group (SIG) for charities is no exception to this, and its composition of risk and insurance professionals benefits from a range of perspectives, with some members at large organisations and others working for much smaller charities.

Sue Sharp, who chairs the charities SIG, works as the insurance manager and health and safety coordinator for The Children’s Society.

“The reality is that there’s often a myriad of different sized organisations and activities – from overseas aid to looking after national monuments – and from mainly volunteer-run ones to well-known names,” she says.

“The opportunity to network has been so helpful – often insurance and risk is a small department or even part of the role for the finance director – with the result that you are reliant on the feedback you get purely from your insurance brokers.”

The SIG setting provides a forum to discuss some of the common issues affecting them. A rise in online criminal activity, for example, has been a leading concern for charities in the past year, Sue explains.

“Cyber is a regular topic because we all hold tranches of data from our supporters mostly through fundraising – and there is a fear that charities maybe targeted as an easy opportunity. On the whole I think our members understand this and are potentially more diligent than others,” she says.

The arrival of the pandemic in 2020 left many charities in a situation in which their sources of revenue were drying up amid society’s lockdown, Risk professionals were under pressure to provide answers for business continuity and about insurance protection for business interruption.

“Last year was most unusual,” Sue says. “For the first time, everyone wanted to know all about the insurance cover  – because there was this media hype that insurance was going to pay for Covid and everyone would be saved. Like most insurance professionals, we knew there was little chance of this, but trying to explain why was a challenge too.

“It’s really important to remember that insurance has been a price-driven product for a long time – but it is much more than that and as the saying goes ‘you get what you pay for’.  At the time of a hard insurance market return – we should ensure that we also educate our organisations and make sure their insurance programme is efficient and effective for their needs,” she adds.

Social distancing put greater onus on the role of the SIG for staying in touch, she suggests, as physical events became impossible, but virtual meetings provided a lifeline to continue to share experience and good practice, with around a dozen members typically taking part at each meeting.

“At the beginning of lockdown we found that there were reorganisations going on and sadly some of our members leaving – so we quickly decided to be proactive in arranging online meetings and keeping those contacts going,” she says.

This is Sue’s second stint as chair of the charities SIG. She joined The Children’s Society in 2006, at which point she also became an Airmic member, keen to learn from other risk professionals.

“One of the main attractions [of Airmic] was that there was no other opportunity which allowed for meeting up with my peer group and to further my own professional knowledge,” she says.

Alex Frost, market development manager at Airmic, is responsible for leading the Airmic SIGs.

“Events have demonstrated the need for sector-specific peer groups of risk and insurance professionals and therefore we’ve seen the SIGs flourish in recent times,” he says.

About Airmic Special Interest Groups: https://www.airmic.com/community-1

Airmic’s Special Interest Groups (SIGs) are led by the membership, and aim to form communities to share experiences, learn and let creativity thrive. They can be formed around a theme, a line of business, a risk, or even simply an industry, whose members want to come together and exchange. Here members can draw from theory and develop practical applicability to mitigate risk, or sometimes just network and brainstorm with colleagues to change the way we think and expand our professional horizons. A special interest group will make you feel part of a broader community. If you would like to get in touch and join a meeting, or even host one yourself, please contact alex.frost@airmic.com 

About The Children’s Society: https://www.childrenssociety.org.uk/about-us

We are a national charity working to transform the hopes and happiness of young people facing abuse, exploitation and neglect. We support them through their most serious life challenges and we campaign tirelessly for the big social changes that will improve the lives of those who need hope most. We've been doing this for 140 years and we won't stop until we've built a society where hope is alive in every child.