Farewell to freelancing, hello to Catalyst

Megan Gray
3 min readMay 16, 2023

My reflections on two years of freelancing, and what I’m up to next

Closing one door

Last week I closed the door on two years of freelancing.

It’s been a fascinating, challenging, fun, stressful and nourishing two years. I was blown away by the amazing community I found (especially Freelancers GSD), and I couldn’t have done it without them. The care I experienced through that community has truly blown me away.

Looking back over the last two years I’m celebrating:

  • Working with 10 clients, ranging from a day of facilitation through to projects spanning 5 months
  • Just about managing to earn enough money to pay all the bills!
  • My proudest project, leading the development of the Vision for Volunteering from January last year through to its launch in May 2022. I’m so happy that a team is now in place to take that forward.
  • Learning more about myself — what I enjoy, what I find hard, what different abilities and strengths I can bring. The nature of feedback you get from collaborators and clients is subtly different from what you get from colleagues and hierarchical HR structures in organisations, and that’s been very interesting.

I closed off my freelancing phase with a wonderful day up in York with the Vision for Volunteering partners and new team.

The Vision for Volunteering partners and team in York

Opening a new door

Yesterday I started a new permanent job! 😀

I am ridiculously excited to have joined the fabulous Ellie Hale and Jo Morfee to co-lead Catalyst, a collaborative network of people and organisations working to collectively realise a digitally enabled and resilient social sector.

It is going to be a very different experience to my last paid employment. I am now part of a non-hierarchical lean team at the core of an evolving multi-stakeholder network. We operate on a basis of pay parity and consent-based decision making within the core team. Catalyst is a values-led initiative and is actively striving to embed our values across all of our work.

I will be leading on Operations, with two elements to the role — the operational needs arising from the core team at Catalyst and those arising in service to the wider community of collaborators and partners. At first, I’ll be focussing on the former, and working alongside some freelancers on the latter.

Catalyst is an initiative currently incubated by a charitable organisation, CAST. In 2023 we are exploring transitioning into a separate legal entity and co-creating a new governance model for the wider network. This potential upcoming shift is part of the rationale for creating this role. One of the things that drew me to apply is this really fascinating challenge and change ahead.

I’ve been involved in deeper and lighter touch ways in Catalyst from its earliest days when it was an idea in the minds of Dan Sutch and his colleagues at CAST. It’s changed a lot over the years, most dramatically because of the impact of the pandemic and funding that flowed through Catalyst during that time. I can’t wait to get stuck in to help make the next phase a success.

I spent my first day in person with Ellie and Jo, several hours of which we spent at Dishoom Kings X (where we were so absorbed, Jo almost missed her train home because we lost track of time!)

Three women sitting at a restaurant table, smiling
Losing track of time at Dishoom!