Project snapshot

Providing bespoke advisory services
To ensure their Education Fund is effective and measurable

By providing expert advice, consultative support and strategic direction, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has helped Spirax-Sarco Engineering to measure and monitor the impact their Group Education Fund is making to young lives around the world – part of the company’s commitment to donate up to £15 million to educational causes by 2030.

It's already proving its worth. In the first year, 2022, more than £1 million was shared between 51 projects – from the UK to Brazil, Kenya to the Philippines – helping Spirax-Sarco Engineering to meet their objective of engineering a difference in local communities by breaking down barriers to education.

The objectives

In June 2021, thermal energy management and niche pumping specialist Spirax-Sarco Engineering announced plans to establish an Education Fund as part of their One Planet sustainability strategy. The fund will be deployed over a ten-year period and aims to promote inclusive and equitable access to education in the communities in which they operate.

To ensure the fund delivers the greatest impact in each location, it was important for Spirax-Sarco Engineering to understand the local educational realities within the countries in which they operate and how they could incorporate the insight and knowledge of regional teams. 

The Group also needed to develop a framework of common and feasible metrics to inform impact measurement and reporting at regional and global levels.

They turned to CAF for independent, expert advice on how best to structure the fund and measure its impact. 

Our support

Our Impact Advisory team worked with Spirax-Sarco Engineering to provide a bespoke package of support to meet their needs. 

We helped refine the objectives that would be used to measure the impact of local community projects awarded grants through the fund, which are achieving:

  • Improved diversity in engineering
  • Improved access to education
  • Improved quality of education
  • Improved female access to education

1. In-depth social need and barriers research

Our first step was to perform a needs analysis and identify the barriers preventing people accessing, or experiencing unequal access to, education in some of Spirax-Sarco Engineering’s countries of operation, specifically China, France, India, Mexico, South Africa, South Korea, the UK and the US. Countries were selected to give a broad geographical and socio-economic spread, as well as countries where the Group has a significant operating presence. Gaining this understanding of the local landscape helped Spirax-Sarco Engineering to customise its support and interventions in a meaningful and effective way.

2. Workshops across the Group

The second stage of the project involved bringing together people around the world to think thoroughly and critically about the objectives of the Education Fund. We held regional workshops in North America and Europe; Latin America; Asia and Africa to present and confirm the research findings, collect insights into barriers that existed and how to address them, and generate engagement and ownership.

3. Creation of an impact framework to measure success

The third stage of the project was the development of a comprehensive impact framework that would measure the impact of projects successfully put forward for grants by regional offices across the Spirax-Sarco Engineering Group.

We co-created metrics that would over time provide high quality data to measure the impact of grants agreed by fund trustees, and the difference donations have made on the ground – both in terms of outputs and outcomes. These metrics will allow Spirax-Sarco Engineering to demonstrate both internally and externally the benefits funding has made.

The step-by-step approach we followed together has allowed Spirax-Sarco Engineering to capture both short-term project goals and actions that will add up to delivering long-term project ambitions.

The impact

The Group Education Fund provides a central source of funding for nearly 150 operating companies around the world that make up Spirax-Sarco Engineering. They are now able to identify and apply for grants to help address local education needs in the communities they serve.

Each of the 51 projects from the first year have demonstrated alignment with at least one of the four key aims of the Fund around improving access to education and diversity in engineering. These include some fantastic projects from around the world:

TECwomen project | Cornwall


New community school | Egypt


The Porridge Programme and Sanitary Products | Nairobi


School Exchange project | France


TECwomen project

tech women cornwall

Spirax-Sarco Engineering’s Watson-Marlow business in the UK secured funding for three years to support a programme of education events to inspire more girls and women in Cornwall to embark on careers in technology and engineering.

The programme is being delivered by TECwomen CIC, an organisation working to encourage more diversity in the engineering sector, and includes school workshops, a DigitalUPLIFT training course for 35 women, and community events for girls that involve game design, coding and stop-motion animation. More than half of those attending its ‘Take Up Space’ event in February said they were more interested in a career in space or engineering as a result.

New community school

Spirax-Sarco Egypt successfully secured a donation from the Group Education Fund to build a new community school in Fayoum with the Man Ahyaha organisation, helping to improve access to education for children living in rural areas.

This new school means local children can restart their education, having previously been forced to drop out of school due to the distance they needed to travel.

The Porridge Programme and sanitary provision 

Spirax-Sarco East Africa successfully secured a three-year grant totalling more than £21,000 to help local children in Nairobi living in extreme poverty.

The ‘Porridge Programme’ means 110 children will benefit from a hot breakfast every day, allowing them to make the most of their time in class. This will help to overcome the challenge of children often arriving at school hungry and unable to concentrate on learning.

Period poverty is a problem for many girls in Nairobi, many of who miss school during their periods or drop out of school altogether. The Education Fund supported the provision of sanitary products for 100 teenage girls. When asked, 100% responded that they strongly agree or agree that they are now more comfortable attending school during menstruation.

School Exchange project 

School exchange project

Thermocoax, France team, part of the Spirax-Sarco Engineering Group, secured a grant to give students living far from cities more opportunities to learn about engineering as a potential career by connecting high school students from rural communities with students attending the School of Engineering of Caen and Research Center. Portable science kits were also purchased for use by the students to demonstrate science related projects.

An additional benefit of the fund has been to encourage colleagues from across the Spirax-Sarco Engineering Group to participate in volunteering and engage with organisations in their locality. Applications to the fund will request funding but often identify an opportunity for volunteering, encouraging colleagues to get involved in education and support their communities.

“Working with CAF was a real pleasure. We felt like we were in safe hands at all times. One of the concerns when you work with someone is that they’ll come at it with their own specific way of thinking and won’t flex. This wasn’t the case with CAF at all. The team listened to us and worked collaboratively, resulting in a good outcome for everyone.

“I was impressed by the quality of the work, delivered to a high standard on time and on budget. We have such a broad set of aims with the Education Fund that I wasn’t sure that it was going to be possible to create an impact framework. But I haven’t found a single grant to date that doesn’t have at least one output and one outcome metric that works, so it genuinely is working.”

Sarah Peers, Group Director of Sustainability, Spirax-Sarco  Engineering

Project takeaways

Bespoke service

We work collaboratively and flexibly to meet our clients’ needs and answer both key objectives and the challenges of managing and monitoring a global fund at scale. We were able to design processes and solutions according to stage and intentions to ensure a good outcome for all.

Global reach

In-depth research ensured geographic relevance to meet the needs of sites around the world and the communities they would be looking to support. We generated positive buy-in locally through the workshops, involving people from the start and throughout – listening, advising and delivering.

Measuring impact

We were able to provide independent, strategic advice that helped to shape an impact framework that will over time reveal the impact of projects seeking to remove barriers to education and increase diversity in engineering.

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