June 2016

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    Government Seeking Views on New Policy Directions for Big Lottery Fund

Government Seeking Views on New Policy Directions for Big Lottery Fund

By |June 1st, 2016

The Big Lottery Fund is the largest funder in the UK, distributing 40% of Lottery income each year to tackle advantage and improve lives throughout the UK.

As all Lottery distributors are public bodies they are answerable to Parliament for how they distribute public money. The Big Lottery Fund (BLF) is required to distribute all of its Lottery income to charitable causes or for projects connected with health, education or the environment

The existing policy directions for the Fund’s distribution of money in England and for UK-wide programmes were last revised in 2012. Since then there has been a change of Government as well as the publication of the Big Lottery Fund’s new Strategic Framework, following on from its own public consultation in 2014.

The key principles of the new policy directions include:

  • A renewed focus of local engagement, which means “engaging people and local civil society organisations in how funding is used in their communities, enabling and catalysing local partnerships and collaborations between communities, public, private and civil society organisations”.
  • A new focus on variety and innovation, which means “distributing funds to a wide spread of projects, primarily those delivered by civil society organisations, in particular small and medium sized charities, or the organisations that support them, backing new and innovative approaches and organisations, as well as tried and tested models”.
  • Explicit policy directions for distribution to the UK-wide funding portfolio, which are not applicable to the England funding portfolio. These include the desirability of supporting projects across the UK which have a focus on learning, growing or bringing people and communities together.
  • The focus, when funding UK-based organisations to provide benefit outside the UK and Isle of Man, should be on the “exchange and interchange of best practices and […]

May 2016

Making the most of social media for your charity

By |May 4th, 2016

Have you set yourself up on social media but not seeing any positive impact? Simply setting up social media channels for your charity won’t automatically pave the way to new sources of funding. So what steps can you take in the right direction?

Choose the right platform

Before you start on social media, think about how much time and resource you can dedicate to it. Don’t feel pressured to be on all social media channels – pick carefully the ones that suit you. It’s better to do one channel well, rather than three poorly. This obviously raises questions around resource – who will manage your accounts and how much time can you dedicate to it?

Be active

Post updates regularly to show off your work. Nothing looks worse than a Facebook account that hasn’t been updated in six months. Active accounts show that you’re engaged, professional and ready to start a dialogue. Take time to regularly monitor accounts for any comments or feedback so you can respond.

Build relationships

The clue is in the name – social media is social! It’s a perfect way to connect to people, start a relationship and build on that connection. Your social media audience will want to hear about your latest work – give them behind the scenes access and make them feel special. Use your channel to start a dialogue with your audience – don’t just broadcast information, keep it light. Engage in conversations and be ready to respond to feedback.

Showcase your work

Your social media channels are there to show off your good work. Post good quality photographs and take care with grammar and spelling. Take as much care over your social media content as you would over printed material. Potential funders will […]

April 2016

The importance of Thanking Donors

By |April 1st, 2016

Remember the childhood pain of being made to write endless thank you notes after every birthday and Christmas? As adults, we know that that wasn’t meant to be a form of torture, even though it felt like it! Instead, it was intended to teach us about manners, being polite and not taking kindness and gifts for granted.

When was the last time someone wrote to you to say thanks? How did it feel? Good, right? That lovely warm feeling you get is what we are talking about here. Thanking donors, whether they are individuals, organisations or trusts is so important – whether the gift is large or small. The simple step of saying thank you is sometimes forgotten amidst all the administration.

For the purposes of this post we are talking to small to medium charities who don’t undertake direct mailing to individuals and who don’t have vast call centres or agencies taking donations on a minute by minute basis – they probably won’t be reading this anyway!

We’re talking to those organisations who perhaps have a regular trust and foundation base and the occasional individual or organisational supporters. These are the organisations who do a million fantastic things day-in day-out, with often limited resource – so it’s no surprise  that thanking donors has fallen off the agenda.

The thanks doesn’t need to be fancy (in fact, it definitely shouldn’t be fancy) but a genuine, heartfelt thank you goes a long way to recognising support. Who knows? It could be the beginning of a long relationship with a donor. Here’s a few tips:

  • It needs to be timely – as a guideline within a week is ideal
  • Personalise it (their name, your name)
  • Keep it short (one page is plenty)
  • Tell them what difference […]

March 2016

Budget 2016 – What does it mean for Smaller Charities?

By |March 30th, 2016

Now the Budget for 2016 has been announced are you wondering what George Osborne’s latest set of cuts mean for you? It’s often tricky to decipher what’s beyond the big budget headlines and see what’s relevant to smaller charities.

Here’s a bite-sized round-up of areas that impact smaller charities and possible opportunities:

  • Lower growth – With growth projections reduced from 2.4% to 2.2%, smaller charities may feel the brunt of reduced funding, as Local Authorities reduce funding for services such as advice, advocacy, youth work or supportive work for statutory services.
  • Lower growth – lower confidence – The value of the pound dropped immediately following the Budget which, added to growing concerns around the international economy, is a recipe for lower corporate confidence, resulting in less charitable investment.
  • Sugar tax and after-school activities – While the focus of this budget was on the Chancellor’s sugar tax, he also introduced plans to extend school hours for extracurricular activities. Any charities working with schools on arts or sports activities should gear up to bid for funding and expand their partnerships.
  • Disability benefits – it is expected that at least £1.2bn of the £3.5bn extra savings to be made by 2020 are expected to come from a reduction in the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) of disability benefit. Any charities covering costs through schemes charging from personal budgets to diversify their income will see an impact on this income source, as people with disabilities affected by these changes (up to 600,000 people) will have less money for these services.
  • Homelessness and women’s organisations – Women’s organisations are set to benefit from the ‘Tampon Tax’ and homelessness organisations will benefit from investment in low-cost second stage accommodation with the doubling of the social impact bond […]

Small Charities Survey 2016

By |March 1st, 2016

According to the Small Charities Survey 2016,  there are over 150,000 small charities registered in England and Wales and over 600,000 micro charities too small to register, with a combined annual turnover of £1million.
Together they make up the majority of the UK charity sector, but last year concerns were raised about these charities getting their voices heard in the discussions over the future regulation of fundraising.
In response to this, the Small Charities Coalition and the Institute of Fundraising have produced a survey shedding light on the views of smaller charities about future fundraising
The main insights offered are:
  • There are low levels of awareness of the review of fundraising regulations and that there is significant work needed to raise awareness of the forthcoming changes to all charities if a stronger regulator is established.
  • Public trust and confidence are being felt differently across smaller charities – with 49% seeing not very much or no impact on their organisation, with 46% seeing some or a great impact.
  • Smaller charities are most concerned about the administrative and cost burden of a Fundraising Preference Service. 40% thought it would result in a drop in donations rather than produce a better public image (29%).
  • The survey was split over who should fund the new regulator – with 38% thinking it should come from charities that fundraise from the public and 34% thinking funding should come from government.
  • There is general agreement on stronger sanctions needed – with 52% favouring cease and desist powers for the new regulator and 43% in favour of issuing compulsory training orders.
  • While a fifth of respondents thought that the greater oversight of trustees would have a significant impact […]

February 2016

Trust and Foundation Fundraising

By |February 28th, 2016

What are Trusts and Foundations?
One of our most frequently requested services is Trust and Foundation Fundraising – and for good reason! There are currently in excess of 8,800 grant-making trusts and foundations in the UK, providing around £1.7 billion in grants to charitable causes each year.

Most foundations have been funded by an endowment (land or capital) which is then invested and the income is used to support their charitable giving. Not all foundations make grants but over half (56%) of the total value of all UK grant-making comes from personal or family foundations. ‘Trust’ is another name for a charity and in fact many grant giving bodies are both a foundation and a trust.

What can we get funding for?
Trusts and Foundations are (usually) independent thinkers and will have their own ideas of what they want their funding to achieve and the benefit they wish to focus on. Some will have preferences for geographical areas, or specific community groups – others will focus on a theme or issue. Some will only give for capital, others project, others revenue or a mixture. A few trusts focus on long term partnerships and new ways of doing things.
The value of grants given varies hugely – there are many more funders who will fund £500 – £10,000 but fewer who will fund over £100k in any single application.

How do we know who will fund us?
We subscribe to a number of databases which are regularly updated (Trustfunding and GrantFinder) but this can be an expensive option for an individual charity. Probably the best place to look (for free) is Funding Central.

Once you have undertaken initial research and identified potential funders it’s important to look into each funder in depth […]

January 2016

Annual Report Writing: Top Tips

By |January 31st, 2016

We spend a lot of our time looking at Annual Reports. A LOT. We’ve seen some fantastic examples but probably twice as many we could hardly bring ourselves to read. We want your Annual Report to be one of those that simply demands to be read!

So – in no particular order – here are our top tips:

  1. Don’t use too much narrative: There is a lot of ‘ticking the box’ to comply with the reporting requirements without thinking how can you use the numbers to help a charity to show how they are clearly achieving their aims and providing a key service to their beneficiaries- this is what donors are interested in. Too much narrative can make it difficult to actually see what the charity is achieving.
  1. Think about digital options – There are lots of good reasons to think about a digital report. It’s cheaper to produce, has the opportunity to be much more engaging through visuals and can reach a greater number of people. Make the report easy to access by linking to it from your website. Issuu is a great platform for online Annual Reports
  1. Use stand out text:Even when you’ve edited the copy down and feel that everything in the report needs to be included there are bound to be some real key pieces of information that you would want anyone flicking through to notice. Highlighting the text, pulling sections out or using larger text will help draw the readers eye to key pieces of information.

  1. Be transparent, open and honest:The report is a space to voice achievements and celebrate successes, however if the organisation hasn’t been able to achieve all it wanted to in the past year then be honest […]

Reaction: A case for philanthropy and transparency.

By |January 31st, 2016

Debra Allcock Tyler, Chief Executive of the Directory of Social Change, recently wrote about charities being loud and proud saying people should give to charity “because one day you and your family might well need them

Is this the right approach? Donating to a cause because we might need help ourselves some day is a short-sighted, selfish premise. Whereas encouraging broader philanthropy and raising awareness of issues that affect others will benefit society as a whole.

Undoubtedly 2015 was a tough year for the charity sector. The fantastic work of many charities was overshadowed by the wayward behaviour of others.

Moving forward, we need to be more transparent. We should take criticism on the chin where it is due, instead of trying to brush our problems under the carpet.

Being up-front about our flaws is the first step towards developing a robust business approach – with a positive impact for the whole charity sector.

When our working methods stand up to scrutiny, then we’ll have something to be ‘loud and proud’ about and encourage people to support our good work.


November 2015

Changes to Gift Aid declaration

By |November 5th, 2015

This Blog was first published in November 2015 – the changes it outlines became law on 5th April 2016:

You may have already seen that HMRC have published a new Gift Aid declaration which is a shortened version of the previous wording. The new declaration needs to be in place by April 2016.

The wording is designed to be simpler and to increase take up of Gift Aid on donations. The inclusion of a new line –  warning people that if they pay less tax in a year than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all of their donations it is their responsibility to pay the difference – has raised some concern that this may be offputting and reduce the number of declarations made.

While this remains to be seen, it is worth giving some thought to the changes and how you plan this in to upcoming campaigns and publication – as we hurtle towards Christmas, April will come around sooner than we think!

September 2015

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    ‘Regulating Fundraising for the Future’ – a positive step for the sector

‘Regulating Fundraising for the Future’ – a positive step for the sector

By |September 23rd, 2015

A review of fundraising regulations, undertaken by Lord Etherington, was published today and recommends that the main regulator, the Fundraising Regulation Standards Board is shut down and replaced with a organisation that works collaboratively with statutory bodies, such as the Charity Commission.

The review was ordered by Ministers after Olive Cooke, a 92-year-old volunteer poppy seller for the Royal British Legion, killed herself in May this year. After Cooke’s death, it emerged that she had received thousands of phone calls and letters from charities asking her for money.  Her family have since publicly stated that there were ‘other factors’ which contributed to her suicide, nevertheless the case started a public conversation about the techniques employed by some fundraisers.

Shortly afterwards, the headlines were full of news about Kids Company  which collapsed after 20 years amid lots of blame and finger pointing, as well as the rather surprising news that the government had given £3m of public money to the charity just days before its demise.

Then, Angelina Jolie resigned from her position as trustee of the Halo Trust after discovering that other trustees were paying themselves £500 per day.

The press went into overdrive, with the Daily Mail firmly at the forefront, with a campaign which focused initially on cold calling but then moved into an attack on the sector as a whole.

With all this going on it’s no wonder that the public are losing faith and the sector must now take steps to combat the negative media coverage and to repair the damaged trust. The recommendations outlined in the review have been summarised nicely by the Guardian in this article. In essence, the review recommends:

1. A single, new fundraising regulator

2. A co-regulatory model (a 3 steps appraoch)