Random Thoughts

What Charities can learn from Formula 1

Formula 1; A sport that grips many around the world, features some of the most highly skilled engineers and drivers, and a logistical masterpiece that seemingly keeps growing year on year. I’m a big fan, as many of you will already know if you follow me on LinkedIn!! BUT, don’t worry if you’re not a fan, or a sports fan at all because this post isn’t about why you should watch the sport. The more I’ve been learning about the sport and listening to interviews with those inside it I’ve realised there’s a lot the Charity Sector could learn from F1. So this post is about exactly that…


Here’s what we can learn:

1. The importance of your team!

There’s a job for anyone inside an F1 team; engineers, designers, marketers, business people, logistics specialists, drivers and strategists all come together to work towards the same goal; success on and off the track. One thing you won’t see in F1 is engineers telling the social media team how to do their job, or engineers wanting to get in the car and drive in a race. You see where I’m going with this don’t you? What F1 tells us is that a successful team is effective when there’s complete trust for each individual member to do their job well.


Everyone understands their roles in F1, they know how they fit into the puzzle of the organisation and they’re empowered to take ownership of it and move forward. Now, don’t get me wrong I know how stretched resources are in the Charity Sector compared to F1, but we often wear so many hats in the sector, trying to do everything we can and maybe not doing it so well if it’s all on us. Moving forward, perhaps let’s make sure everyone is on the same page about what goals you’re striving towards and trust our team to do what they need to get there. That leads to greater job satisfaction and freedom for you, but also greater results for your organisation!

2. Finding good partners

We’ve touched on this a few times in other posts, but it’s worth mentioning again. When you watch F1 you’ll see that the cars, the race suits, the tracks and everything about it is advertising something or someone.We can make our own judgements about whether that’s good or not, but to look at the positives of it for the sake of this post, it shows us how important partners are to the success of a team.


The reason teams are happy to be sponsored by all these companies is it makes their product and service better, it equips them for success in a greater way than if they tried to build it without their support. You’re very likely all building fantastic partnerships, but it can’t be ignored how important it is to collaborate with likeminded businesses in order to achieve greater impact for those you’re serving. One thing the charity sector thrives at is working together for the good of others, and building great partnerships, inside and outside the sector will be vital to Charities working effectively and sustainably in a post-lockdown world.


As F1 shows us, don’t be afraid to shout about your partners if you’re proud of what you’re doing together either!

3. Always looking at what you can improve!

Another thing F1 is borderline obsessed with is where they can improve. They’re always looking at what they’re not doing well, how they can avoid mistakes and how they can gain a competitive edge. Amongst all the busyness of what happens in the sector, we can sometimes get lost in letting things sail through “as they’ve always been” and get lost in just getting through the next week. Trust me, I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, as everyone in the sector is working as hard as they can, so I’m not saying this like it’s an easy change to make.


Perhaps as a starting point though, when we’ve got a problem in our organisations, we could think creatively about how we tackle it. That doesn’t mean spending loads of money to solve something, but analyse the problem, what barriers there are to tackling it, and then think through some solutions with your team. There’s no doubt you and your team should have the skills in-house to solve even the biggest challenges. A bit of creative thinking can go a long way! When we do that, what’ll happen is you’ll build a better service for those you’re serving, and therefore have even more ammunition for when you apply for funding, because of how fantastic your work is!

4. Always being willing to learn

A lot of people in F1 are very, very clever. There’s no doubt about that. From listening to podcasts for those in the background and the drivers, there’s an overriding theme to how they talk. They always want to learn how they can improve. They’re very happy with not knowing everything. I’m someone who can struggle with that, as I often feel like an imposter when I don’t know something in the sector, I’m sure you feel the same sometimes too.


The good news is, we can never know everything and that’s okay! Those who are the best at what they do are happy to be experts in their particular field, and are happy to leave the other things to people who know better. The journey of learning is something we can take into every aspect of our lives, but our organisations can benefit from running in that way too. After all, as the old cliché goes… “you learn something new everyday” – what about if we applied those learnings to our organisations though, how would they be different?


I bet you’re hooked on F1 after this post too aren’t you…..If not, hopefully there’s something helpful in here.


See you soon!