The British Heart Foundation

The British Heart Foundation


The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is a UK charity organization established in 1961 by medical professionals concerned about the increasing number of heart diseases and high death rates resulting from heart diseases (British Heart Foundation, 2012). According to British Heart Foundation (2012), they then decided to fund additional research into the causes of heart diseases, teach the public about preventive measures to avoid developing such conditions and provide free diagnosis and treatment. The organization has funded various activities, including education, care, and cardiovascular research. According to British Heart Foundation (2012), this charity organization relies mostly on voluntary donations to meet its goals, though part of its income is obtained from investments. It also collaborates with other organizations in combating disabilities and premature death resulting from cardiovascular disease, which helps the organization attract revenue from other sources such as government grants and contracts.

BHF’s internal and external environment

BHF has a chain of charity shops throughout the UK, Scotland, and Wales. According to a Retail Technology review (2011), the organization had established over 600 retail shops and over 80 furniture and electrical shops by 2010Retailil shops have been making approximately 13% of the organization’s annual income in recent years (Retail Technology review (2011). These shops are staffed predominantly by slightly more than 10,000 volunteers. Each has a manager, a shop assistant, and sometimes a retail assistant, all of whom are paid.

According to British Heart Foundation (2012), BHF focuses on five major goals in addressing the issue of cardiovascular health.  First, BHF is involved in continuous research into the causes of heart-related diseases and has more than 260 nurses providing free care services for individuals with cardiac disorders across the UK. Secondly, it gives vital information about the causes of heart diseases and efficient prevention methods to help people reduce the risks of developing heart diseases (Jowett et al., 2007, p. 8). For instance, the organization has established over 1,620 Heartstart schemes in the UK to educate people on the causes of heart diseases and preventive measures they need to undertake (British Heart Foundation, 2012). The schemes also alert people on how to respond to all emergencies unrelated to cardiac problems. According to British Heart Foundation (2012), Heartstart also engages in direct training, and by 2010, it had trained more than 1.2 million people in schools and communities in the UK.

The charity organization is also involved in massive campaigns meant to push the government to develop policies that will help to minimize the chances of people developing heart and circulatory diseases. It stresses the need for health organizations to attain the highest possible standards of care and support for individuals who have already developed heart diseases (Jowett et al., 2007, p. 8).  In addition, this charity organization is popular in pushing health organizations and other private and public institutions to collaborate in reducing inequalities in treating individuals with heart diseases across the UK.

BHF funding largely focuses on research, care, and prevention. In 2010, the BHF spent £48.4 million on research, which accounted for 57% of the organization’s income (British Heart Foundation, 2012). 41% of the revenue was allocated for care and prevention activities such as ongoing activities in healthcare centers, placing defibrillators, and producing heart health resources for individuals of all ages. Part of the income is sometimes used to establish new programs and facilities and the organization’s Heart Information Series.

BHF also sponsors television programs to spread information related to heart diseases. It has supported the television series Kid’s Fit Squad and Kitchen Detective, produced by Two for (British Heart Foundation, 2012). The two series encourage people to adopt healthy eating habits, do regular excurses, and provide specific advice for people from different age groups. As noted earlier, the organization collaborates with other non-governmental organizations, such as Cancer Research UK, to campaign against habits that increase the chances of developing heart diseases, such as the tobacco use analysis

SWOT analysis refers to analyzing an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (Henry, 2008, p. 68).  The strengths and weaknesses relate to an organization’s internal environment, while opportunities and threats are external factors. The following are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of BHF.


  • BHF, like other charities in the UK, is tax-exempt. As such, it has been possible for the organization to offer products in the retail shops at a discount since there are no tax expenses (British Heart Foundation, 2012)
  • BHF has volunteer staff in numerous retail shops. The volunteer staff enables the organization to make a lot of savings, which is particularly important for the efficient running of the organization. The board of directors for BHF is composed of volunteers, which gives an added advantage to the charity (British Heart Foundation, 2012).
  • BHF has a well-trained and experienced board of directors compared to most of its competitors in the UK (British Heart Foundation, 2012).
  • This charity organization has grown to attain high levels of public awareness, more than most competitors. It is thus easier for BHF to attract donor funding than most competitors.
  • BHF has strong organizational beliefs and values which support constant innovation and development.
  • BHF receives very little support from the government, which helps it to retain the authority of independence (American Heart Association, 2007, p. 90).


  • As noted earlier, the largest portion of BHF’s income comes from legacies and wills. These sources are increasingly becoming unpredictable, and sometimes, the organization’s total income is less than the organization’s expenses, making it difficult to fund some of its vital activities (British Heart Foundation, 2012).
  • The budget problem sometimes extends to the limited ability to pay competitive salaries to the organization’s workers, making it difficult to attract some of the most trained and experienced personnel in the UK (British Heart Foundation, 2012).
  • In charity organizations, professionals typically focus on job satisfaction as compensation. However, some professionals working with BHF have been found to focus on salary as a major source of repayment. Such persons may end up providing low-quality services, especially when they are dissatisfied with payment (British Heart Foundation, 2012).


BHF defines its opportunities as the grants to which the organization is eligible. BHF has been attracting a huge amount of funding from legacies and wills. In 2010, for instance, the amount collected from gifts and wills was more than £40 million (British Heart Foundation, 2012). BHF also attracts sizeable support from volunteers. Volunteers’ funding accounted for 32% of the organization’s income in 2010. The various retail shops for BHF make a lot of profits, which greatly supports the organization’s activities. In 2010, the retail shops made £16 million. BHF makes big returns from other investments. In 2010, they accounted for 5% of the total income (British Heart Foundation, 2012).


  • The biggest threat facing BHF emanates from the use of animals for testing. BHF conducts research using animals, and according to civil society (2011), it is subject to a national boycott campaign organized by Animal Aid. Animal Aid has been planning to urge the public through the media to stop BHF unless it stops using animals for testing. For instance, protests in November 2011 called for BHF and the University of Leeds to refrain from using dogs in their co-funded experiments. The protesters claimed that more than 100 dogs had died during experiments since 1988.
  • Heavy reliance on Legacies and wills makes BHF quite vulnerable to economic crisis. Usually, when a financial crisis sets in, most donors are adversely affected, and they cut back on charitable giving (Saxton & Guild, 2010, p. 46)
  • Being a charity organization, BHF is held to a higher standard than making profits. Since it depends on contributions, BHF is constantly faced with the threat of creating an impression of impropriety. Quite a small scandal can damage the organization (American Heart Association, 2007, p. 90).
  • The presence of government regulations sometimes undermines the effective performance of charities.

BHF areas of competitive advantage

BHF has several competitive advantages. First, BHF can demonstrate its success and achievements compared to competitors (British Heart Foundation, 2012). Secondly, the purposes and activities of BHF are unique, and it is perceived to focus on many people’s sensitive needs and interests. BHF invests in a highly skilled workforce compared to most competitors enabling the organization to produce exceptional results. It has established good relations with all stakeholders by keeping close to their needs. It has a large database of loyal supporters who provide huge amounts of donations in the legacies and wills (British Heart Foundation, 2012).

BHF gap analysis

Gap analysis determines an organization’s desired and actual performance (Berke et al., 2008, p. 43). The prime objective of BHF is to play a leading role in the fight against heart and circulation diseases and hence reduce the number of people developing such conditions as well as deaths resulting from such conditions (British Heart Foundation, 2012). It thus requires a lot of funding to support it to achieve this objective. BHF largely applies an externally driven strategy in its management (Saxton & Guild (2010, p. 38).

The externally driven strategy involves raising funds through legacy, wills, government grants, and contracts. As mentioned earlier, the highest BHF income comes from gifts and will. BHF thus lacks a proper marketing program and applies very few incentives that resemble fundraising. Reliance on such sources is highly likely unsustainable as donors may hold back on their donations during periods of economic crisis (Saxton & Guild, 2010, p. 47). Secondly, legacies may leak away to other organizations as they get better and better in marketing. Saxton & Guild (2010, p. 46) noted that income from wills is increasingly becoming unpredictable and insufficient. These challenges are likely to affect the performance of BHF and its competitive edge adversely.

Strategic recommendations

Several strategies are open for BHF to adopt as it seeks to improve its performance and gain a competitive edge. Currently, BHF relies on an externally-driven approach, largely depending on funding sources such as legacy and will. Three other methods that can be applied in isolation or combination can help BHF to adjust to the changing competitive environment effectively.  First, BHF can adopt a differentiation strategy and focus on defining the organization’s by-products, audiences, or specific beliefs (Saxton & Guild, 2010, p. 45). It can also apply the niche strategy, which focuses on an increasing market share through a geographic area or a specific issue. Finally, BHF can adopt the awareness strategy, which focuses on maintaining high levels of public awareness. Generally, BHF needs to apply the most suitable technique or combination of methods and establish a strong brand and corporate positioning.

Likely competitor reactions

If any or all of the above strategies prove qualitative for BHF, its competitors may adopt the same approach. This will likely result in increased competition over sources of funds, government grants, and contracts as well as a share of mind volunteers, donors, and commissioning officers American Heart Association (2007, p. 89).

Assumptions about the future of the marketplace

The marketplace for charity organizations will likely change in the future as organizations adopt new and most suitable strategies. Currently, like in BHF, most charities in the UK are created on niche strategy and proceed in this line indefinitely (Saxton & Guild, 2010, p. 46). In the future, the biggest number of charities in the UK will likely move from niche strategies to differentiation. There is also a high possibility that many charities will progress directly from niche to awareness.





American Heart Association, (2007), Financing Cardiology Research: The British Heart

Foundation, journal of American heart association, vol. 115, pp 85-90

Berke, D., Kossler, M., E. & Wakefield, M., (2008), Developing Leadership Talent,  John Wiley

& Sons, London

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Civil society, (2011), Animal Aid calls for donation boycott of top medical charities, accessed 25

February 2011 from,

Henry, A., (2008), Understanding Strategic Management, Oxford University Press

Jowett, N., Thompson, D. R. & Boyle, R., (2007), Comprehensive Coronary Care, Elsevier

Health Sciences, London

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is the key to growth, accessed 25 February 2011 from,

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