I have just sold nfpSynergy to two of my colleagues

Joe Saxton smiling in a purple shirt

I have just sold nfpSynergy to two of my colleagues

Joe Saxton has sold nfpSynergy to colleagues Cian Murphy and Tim Harrison-Byrne. The blog marks the end of an era, with Joe briefly reflecting on his time at nfpSynergy, and sharing a bit of what he might get up to in the future.
Joe Saxton

Earlier this week my family and I signed the papers and sold nfpSynergy to my colleagues and Co Managing Directors, Cian Murphy and Tim Harrison-Byrne. I am delighted. I am delighted because I have worked with both of them for around ten years now. I am delighted because I know the safe hands that they will be for nfpSynergy. I am delighted because after 20 years of thinking about paying salaries, finding new business, covering costs, and recruiting great staff, I will be handing that privilege and challenge over to someone else.

I am also delighted because I know that Tim and Cian have already done many great things for clients and the company, but they are also plotting more great things and they will be setting out their plans in a blog very shortly. So, I am sure the company will thrive in their hands and those of my many other brilliant colleagues.

There are many things that we have done at nfpSynergy which I am very proud of. We have published over 150 free reports for charities, most of which were funded by ourselves and driven by our passion for the sector. We incubated CharityComms throughout its early years: gave them free rent for over a decade, paid some salaries, and funded events, giving support probably totalling over £100,000. Over the last few years, we have supported the Association of Volunteer Managers with free office space and agreed to underwrite the cost of their first member of staff in the unlikely event it all went wrong (which of course it didn’t).

I am also proud of some of our less visible things. We have always paid full salaries for those on sick leave, for months at a time in some cases. We have funded counselling for staff with mental health problems. We have kept our interns with us for years, not months (Cian being a case in point when he started with us over a decade ago).

I am not leaving the company for a while. I will continue working on projects and doing research with the company for a year or two more. It has been a privilege to work with so many amazing people and organisations, and I hope to go on for a while longer.

But having spent 20 years working on nfpSynergy, I am now thinking about what to do with the next 20 years. I should think my name is on two-thirds of the free reports we have written, and one of the reasons I wanted to sell is to give myself more time to write (and grow my skills in other newer media!). In fact, I will be starting work on a report on the future of fundraising very shortly. Fundraising has been battered from many sides in recent years, so I want to look into how charities can grow the income they raise to fund the incredible work that charities do.

I’d like to find time to write more fiction too. As some of you may know, alongside the free reports, I have also published a novel set in the Lake District where I live. It’s titled Secrets of the Flock, published under the name J.B.Browne, and it’s won a couple of awards. You can buy it here from these two independent book shops - Westwood Books or Books Cumbria

I also want to take on more trusteeships as well as other volunteer or non-exec roles. I have been a chair of nearly 10 different organisations and am now the Chair of my Parish Council. I am a big believer that as one door closes, another will open. Doors that would never have been possible while running and owning nfpSynergy. I am not retiring – I am just no longer the owner of nfpSynergy. I do have a new job title ( ;) - see below) and my nfpSynergy email will work for a few years yet. If you want to keep up with what I do next, you can follow me on LinkedIn, @saxtonjoe on Twitter, or ewe_chunners on Instagram.

To all of you who have worked with nfpSynergy and put your faith in an independent market research company specialising in not for profits – thank you. Please keep doing so! For myself, I am excited about what comes next.

Joe Saxton
Driver of Ideas (emeritus)
07976 329212

Curious about the future of nfpSynergy? Our two Co-Managing Directors Tim and Cian give their thoughts on the future of the company in this blog.

I’d love to hear what you think of it. My defence is less about the potential thin skin of rich donors, and far more about the consequences of private gifts to nonprofits drying up if we don’t pushback on the more OTT criticisms of big donors.

Submitted by Richard Litchfield (not verified) on 4 Nov 2021


We’ll done Jo. Not easy at all to find legacy and succession routes for social sector consultancies. We’re about 15 years into our journey btw. Big hand to you!

Submitted by Daryl Upsall (not verified) on 4 Nov 2021


Thanks for all the great work you and your team have done over these last 20 years. I am a huge fan, as you well know. nfpsynergy has been invaluable not just to the UK nonprofit sector but also for us at Daryl Upsall International it has been of global value.

Hving known you since our daystogether at University I no discover that you are closet novelist. I will immediately order form the bookshops. Hopefully they will ship to Spain...Brexit permiiting!!!

Submitted by Adrian Sargeant (not verified) on 4 Nov 2021


Feels like only yesterday you were joining nfpSynergy. Has it really been that long? Anyhow - I just wanted to stop by and thank you and the team for all that you do for the sector. And particularly for the intellectual generosity, giving away all the great ideas in your thought pieces to anyone that might benefit. THANK YOU

Ah and I remember first reading a piece of your when you were consultant to the Game Conservancy Trust/Council Adrian. Would that be right? That is a while ago now. hope you and the family are all well

Submitted by Ben Littlejohn (not verified) on 4 Nov 2021


Congratulations Joe, and thank you for all the pin-sharp insight you've given to the sector over the years. It's been of enormous value - even all the way over here in Australia. All the best!

Submitted by Richard Chambers (not verified) on 4 Nov 2021


Congratulations on a successful double-decade, "Mr Browne"!! (I think you may have answered the question: "What should I give my sister, this Christmas?")

Any chance your Future of Fundraising report may contain a strident paragraph or two on the need for charities to 'fight back' when it comes to criticism of our profession. After all, every new live, televised sponsored walk by amateurs hammers home the age-old, public misconception that fundraising is (or should be) an unpaid action.

The one thing Fundraisers have never been good at is making a unified case for our existence.

God bless all your future endeavours.


That is definitely a good present for your entire family Richard. lol. Those are good thoughts on what we need to get better at Richard

Submitted by Peter Maple (not verified) on 4 Nov 2021


Joe, That's quite a stint. Well done. Thanks on behalf of many fundraisers and academics for being a continuing source of good research and very thoughtful observations. I do hope to see you very soon.

Submitted by Alan Gosschalk (not verified) on 4 Nov 2021


Massive congratulations, Joe, and thank you for your incredible contribution to the sector over the last decades. Good luck in your new ventures.

Submitted by Paul Finnis (not verified) on 4 Nov 2021


Many congratulations Joe for an amazing contribution through nfp and all of the other work you do. Really look forward to seeing what next and confident that nfp will continue to add great value and insight. My best - Paul

Submitted by Andrew Hind (not verified) on 4 Nov 2021


It's been an enormously valuable contribution you've made to the sector, Joe - and not just in these last 20 years at nfpSynergy. Thank you for sharing your insights and analysis on so many topics. All best wishes for the next phase of your endeavours.

Submitted by Jo Dunsford (not verified) on 5 Nov 2021


Thank you to you and your team for such a huge contribution to the sector Joe. You've been a valued and trusted source of information and support for as long as I can remember. Best of luck in your new ventures and looking forward to that next report - the perfect swan song.

Submitted by Sean Day (not verified) on 9 Nov 2021


Congratulations on such a successful and creative first 20 years Joe. As one of the many beneficiaries of your support, expertise, guidance and challenge for the first twenty years, I am very much hoping that we will see even more of you over the next twenty!

Submitted by Anna Wates (not verified) on 22 Dec 2021


Congratulations Joe, Cian, Tim, and everyone at nfpSynergy!! It was great to be part of the ship for some of the last twenty years :) I look forward to following the new adventures of both you and the company.

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