180 Degrees Bristol are officially the ‘most innovative’ student consultants in the UK


By Grace Kirby, Second Year Ancient History

In an ever-more challenging environment for charities and non-profit organisations many of them are turning to the consultancy industry for much-needed advice. Student-run consulting firms are leading the way in supporting charitable organisations through the global pandemic.

Reduced government funds and a reduction in State support have taken several charities and non-profits to the brink of insolvency, with the UK's largest third-sector organisations having had over £10 million applied to their cumulative accounting bill in the past four years.

Global Awards 2020 announcement, 180 Degrees Consulting. | Epigram / 180DC

180 Degrees is the world's biggest volunteer consultancy, with activities in more than 35 countries and 165 branches. Bristol's division stands out for it’s excellence, having recently been awarded ‘Most Innovative Branch Worldwide' at the 180 Degrees Consulting global branch awards 2020.

With around 75 pupils involved at any one time, 180 Degrees Bristol has significantly raised the number of ventures undertaken each term to about 15, consequently crushing rivalry from other University divisions (for those still bitter about rejection - including Oxbridge). They have now officially collaborated with a remarkable 67 local and international charities since their inception 20 months ago in August 2019.

With an impressive list of clients such as The Make-A-Wish Foundation, The Green Party of Lebanon, Ashton Court Estate and Bristol -based science museum ‘We The Curious’, charitable organisations with a combined income of nearly £30 million have been utilising the academic excellence of Bristol students to harness the power of advanced analytics and data science techniques.

Lee D'arcy, Vice President, and Immy Ireland, Head of Operations, meeting with Bristol City Council at Ashton Court Estate. | Epigram / 180DC

Recent domestic projects include identifying the optimal legal structure for Digilocal, a charity providing technology education for children, and the data science team also constructed digital choropleth maps to inform their recommendations on the best areas to expand their services.

The team were also highlighted on BBC Bristol for helping Age UK Bristol adapt to the impact of COVID-19 with Kay Libby, CEO of Age UK Bristol, saying ‘I’m delighted with the support that you have given to us in respect of financial planning, fundraising, communications, virtual activities and our use of social media… The speed at which the 180DC team work is remarkable and they have made real demonstrable improvements to the way that we work.’

Bristol Students are also consulting abroad, as the branch led a global effort to collaborate with several Lebanon-based organisations affected by the recent Beirut explosion. The branch has now worked with 8 charities from the Lebanon region following the Beirut explosion.

Charitable organisations with a combined income of nearly £30 million have been utilising the academic excellence of Bristol students.

Gestures From the Heart, one of these charities, said, ‘After the Beirut blast everything was extremely bad and painful. We were lost. [...] We lost hope. And suddenly came a beautiful team of young, dynamic and extremely motivated people. They were like a ray of hope that came at the right time. They were ready to help and make a difference in people lives without even knowing them. But it was enough to get [us] back up on [our] feet and continue what [we] started.’

The branch also expanded its impact into Africa this term with a number of projects with charities based in Uganda such as Community Action for Humanity, whom they helped to develop a strategy to plant 20 million trees to combat climate change. Another example in Uganda is Twizembe Rural Development, for whom students helped develop a branding and implementation strategy ahead of the launch of a new Fish Farming project this summer.

With St. Peters Hospice, the largest charity in the region raising £17m last year, claiming they were ‘bowled over by students’ ‘professionalism, passion, dedication, diligence and wide-ranging expertise in data analytics’ it is clear that 180 Degrees Bristol has had a far-reaching effect on both Bristol-based and multinational businesses over the past year.

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Having been led and co-founded by Jack Elliott, BSc Economics & Finance, 180 Degrees Bristol illustrates what (technically) 'unqualified' and 'unexperienced' students can achieve and provides a snapshot into the talent at Bristol University.

Patrick Keavney & Jake Ireland will be assuming charge of the new management team as the branch looks to work with Indian charities this summer while becoming a long-term solution for Bristol-based charities looking for high quality strategic support.

Have you heard about 180DC Bristol's work this year?

If you're interested in finding out more or getting involved, see their website: https://180dc.org/branch/bristol/

Featured Image: Epigram / 180DC