Thursday, 28 February 2013

Funds for NGOs

If you hit the Funding tab on this blog, you'll find quite a few funding lists. This is another to add to your arsenal, in a similar vein to the AidWorkers Network Funding List.

Funds for NGOs describes itself as:

An online initiative, working for the sustainability of NGOs by increasing their access to donors, resources, and skills. It uses technology to spread knowledge and increase capacity.

It looks slightly like an advertisement holding page, but I assure you it isn't. It's also available in French and Spanish.

At the bottom of the site you'll find a Resource list, including: Proposal Writing, NGO Fundraising, Fundraising Guides, NGO Management Guides and Donor Updates.

They also offer an impressive array of funding links and information. 

I haven't had a lot of time to look around it but, if you check it out, please do drop a comment below and let us know whether it's as useful as it looks.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Social Media Monitoring

(Image courtesy of AlisonQuine)

Here's a quick tip for organisations keeping on top of their Social Media.

I often see clients using the number of Facebook and Twitter followers they have as a sign of the level of support for their organisation. It sounds good to say: "We have 400 Facebook followers."

It's good to know that statistic, but there's another one that's not too hard to calculate and worth keeping an eye on.

You may have 400 Facebook likes, but what if you have 90 staff, their friends and families, who all liked your page back in 2008 when you first set it up? Perhaps not a lot has happened since.

The statistic that I try to get clients to monitor is the growth rate of followers.

To do this:

  • Record your current total number of followers
  • Check the number again at a later date
  • Calculate the difference

Record Total

Easy. How many followers do you currently have on Facebook or Twitter? Let's say 40 Facebook followers (or 'likes').

Check Again

It's best to check at longer intervals, such as quarterly, or every six or twelve months. Social media can go through ups and downs. Some people only follow for a few days. If you check on a daily or weekly basis your graph may start to look a little erratic.

However, if you're running a specific social media campaign and want to measure its success over a shorter period, then a shorter measurement time is good. For instance, if I run an advert on local radio for my organisation and I want to know how many new likes or follows that translates into, I want to monitor daily to see what return I'm getting on my advertising investment.


How impressive does it sound to be able to say:

Over the past 12 months, we have had a 525% increase in social media followers.

This lets donors know that you're aware of the importance of social media, and capable of monitoring it.

The calculation is a simple one:

  1. Number of followers you currently have
  2. Minus the original number of followers you had
  3. Divided by the original number of followers you had
  4. x 100


I started with 40 Facebook followers
I now have 250 followers

  1. 250
  2. - 40
  3. / 40
  4. * 100

=  525% increase

To double check that the calculation is correct:
  1. Open the calculator on your computer
  2. Insert the original figure (40)
  3. Add the percentage (+ 525%)
  4. The total should equal your current number of followers (250)

If you have lost followers, the percentage will appear in negative numbers, showing you the percentage decrease.

Either way, it allows you a much clearer picture of how successful your Social Media Strategy is than simply monitoring the total figure.

If you get stuck, try the Percent Increase Online Calculator.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Charity Trading

This is a discussion that arises quite often with clients.

Most charities are allowed to trade to raise money, provided:

  1. All profits go back into the organisation
  2. The nature of the trading is in keeping with the charity's objectives

An example of the second point might be a Deaf Association selling Deaf Awareness Training to local authorities, the police and NHS.

So long as your Constitution allows for you to trade, you should be able to do so. If not, you may wish to vote to amend your Constitution. 

Pretty much everything you need to know is here: Tax exemptions on charity trading profits

At present the trading income limits are thus:

If you find that your income generation exceeds these limits, or you wish to branch out into trading in something unrelated to your charitable purpose, you could always set up a separate Social Enterprise to help to financially support your charity.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Lottery Benefits

I was at an arts event last year, speaking on a panel. One of the questions was whether things like the National Lottery are a force for good or not. There was a lot of shaking of heads and murmuring of disagreement, to which I pointed out that the Heritage Lottery Fund was the main sponsor of the event. Without it, none of us would have been there.

Many people still don't make the link between buying a lottery ticket and the money distributed to charity by the Lottery through its various funds. They grant millions of pounds a year to non-profit projects and CICs.


...unlike the National Lottery, which gives 28 per cent of ticket sales to good causes, the Health Lottery legally contributes only 20 per cent.

When I first read that, I was surprised at how low the percentage was for both lotteries.

Perhaps, instead of gambling on a health lottery, we could just donate the £1 to the NHS. If we hit a losing streak in our own personal health lottery, at least it will still be there to pick up the pieces.

Friday, 22 February 2013

CIO Update

I have devoted a post to CIOs before, but open season on registering is drawing ever closer and it's an important issue which many charities still aren't aware of.

I recently sent an e-mail to my own clients, and thought I'd share:

You may or may not be aware of impending Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) status?

At the moment, both registered charities and unincorporated ones need to register as a Company Limited by Guarantee with Companies House to protect the financial liability of their trustees.

As of this year, the Charity Commission is looking to take over that role. Over the next 12 months, both existing charities and unregistered voluntary organisations will be invited to change their status to CIO. This should mean less paperwork, with only one set of returns made to the Charity Commission each year, and nothing sent to Companies House.

A CIO offers the same protection as a Limited Liability Company, the only difference being the body administering it.

Although you need £5,000 annual income to register as a charity in England & Wales, you don't need to register before becoming a CIO. It's open to all, but there is a timeline throughout the year, which you can find here.

Full information on CIOs here.

This does not apply to Scotland, where CIOs have been in effect for a while.

Hope this is helpful. Please pass it on to any other charities you know who might not have heard yet.

It's worth getting up to speed on this, whether you're a registered charity or a small community group. Should help to reduce your paperwork in the long run. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Paying Trustees

(Image courtesy of @Doug88888)
This is a discussion that cropped up recently with a client.

The Chair of an organisation was looking at resigning his post in order to take on an interim support role within the organisation, as their regular contractor was leaving the post early. He felt that he could not continue as Chair because trustees are not allowed to receive financial payment. The new role was not one that he was willing to take without remuneration, as it was time consuming and skill-based.

It is true that you should not pay volunteers. By definition, a volunteer who receives payment is no longer a volunteer. The role of Trustee is strictly a voluntary one.


It is possible to allow for the payment of Trustees within your Constitution, under very specific circumstances. 

If you wish to go down this route, you may find that you first need to vote to amend your Constitution. This is easy enough for unregistered voluntary organisations, but harder for registered charities. Make sure that you seek permission and support from the Charity Commission.

The specifics are as follows:

Read it very carefully. In brief:

Exceptions [to not paying trustees]: There is an exception where the  governing document (or other rules the charity must follow) explicitly allows payment to trustees, and/or allows them to do business with the charity. Any personal benefit must strictly comply with the terms and  conditions of the authority allowing the benefit. We can also authorise a transaction between a charity and a trustee personally, where the trustees can show a clear advantage to the charity. In  addition the Charities Act contains provisions that allow payment of trustees, but only for the provision of goods or a service to their charity over and above their normal trustee duties. This does not include contracted employment or payment for acting as a trustee. Trustees must meet certain conditions and have regard to our guidance when using the power.

Acting without the authorisation of the Charity Commission may compromise your charitable status. 

It is a rather grey area. In the case of my client, the benefit to the organisation is not in doubt, but it would most likely need to be on a temporary basis rather than 'contracted employment'.

Being transparent, seeking advice, and asking the Commission to authorise transactions will help you to do this in the right manner.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Ping Engines

Here's a quick tip for organisations that keep a blog.

When you update your blog, let a ping engine know.

A ping engine notifies all the little ping bots - programmes that update search engines - that there's new content on your blog. These programmes head on over, examine the content and catalogue it. Over time, this helps search engines to direct traffic to your site.

Here's three to be getting on with. The first two you can update any time you like. The last one you can only tell once every three days. If you update your blog regularly, make it a habit to notify the ping engines one day a week, perhaps on a Friday before you go home for the weekend?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

The Big Assist

This might be of interest to some organisations:

If you are a voluntary organisation or social enterprise, who mainly supports other organisations, then BIG Assist is for you.

BIG Assist is a programme helping to strengthen infrastructure organisations through a diagnostic and voucher scheme, as well as a collaborative peer to peer community to help improve their services for the benefit of the whole sector.

Check out The Big Assist website to see whether your organisation is eligible. Also, if you're a consultant or trainer, you can sign up to offer assistance. Drop them a line to find out more:

Monday, 18 February 2013

Bad at Fundraising?

This raised a chuckle:

Nonprofits across the US are stuck in a cycle that hinders their ability to raise money, a new report says. Commissioned by the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund and conducted by CompassPoint, the study examines fundraising issues at nonprofits nationwide, and the results aren’t pretty.

Surprised? Not in the least.

Although it's a US study, I'd hazard the findings could be applied globally.
One of the training courses I deliver is The Theory of Fundraising. Having sat on a small grants committee, and worked as a Statutory & Trust Funding Officer, I know that it only takes a little to be a lot better.

Many organisations fall down on the basics. They:

  • Haven't read the instructions
  • Understood the donor's mentality
  • Budgeted realistically
  • Proven a need for their project

Many pale at fundamental concepts such as:

  • SMART Planning
  • Bottom-up Approach
  • Sustainability
  • Calculating Match Funding and Organisational Worth

The traditional concept of charity has changed a lot, especially in the past twenty years. There's been a huge shift from aid dependent projects and continuation funding to sustainability and income generation. 

In addition, the language of fundraising is no longer a specialist vocation for one person to shoulder alone. Applications are only ever as strong as the information that goes into them, which means an organisation working together as a team has a much better chance of success. 

If you're finding your rate of application success isn't promising, get yourself clued up on what's going wrong.

You might like to check out my training for a helping hand.

Friday, 15 February 2013

CIC Confusion

Over the past few months, I've had an increase in client enquiries from Arts organisations either with CIC status or considering it.

It's as though someone's been going around the country telling Arts organisations that this would be a particularly good idea. 'Get your shiny new acronym here!'

This is not a complaint about CICs per se. They have their uses. Perhaps it's a bit of a pick at the people telling small organisations that a CIC would be good for them, without fully explaining what they are. Or it's a gripe at a perceived political push towards social enterprise and entrepreneurship without really stopping to study its effectiveness - or the consequences for those who don't succeed.

The disturbing part for me is that some of the CICs I've spoken with don't quite understand that they are legally a business in the Private Sector. It seems to have been sold as a way of being a charity whilst paying yourself as a board member.

To some extent this is true. Some traditional donors, such as the National Lotter and Arts Council (the two main ones for Arts organisations), do accept applications from CICs. However, smaller traditional donors aren't always entirely certain what a CIC is, and can't ethically donate charitable funds to the Private Sector. Whereas being a CIC opens up a few loans and corporate investment opportunities, it also closes down access to the type of funds that most Arts organisations rely on.

The major difference is that a CIC is expected to work on a sustainable business model. They're good if you're coming from a business background, with a strongly profit-oriented approach, and a good likelihood of long-term income generation. You reinvest the profits of a CIC into achieving its social aims. If it isn't making profit, it isn't going very far.

The public perception of a theatre or company of actors may well be as a business, yet the reality is that many Arts organisations struggle. Very few theatres or Arts groups survive without any form of traditional funding. To cut yourself off from that, with the expectation of turning enough profit to make up for it, needs careful consideration.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

News About Women

Just wanted to give a shout out to a Twitter feed I follow. Nice operation called Women's Views on News: @newsaboutwomen

They also have a website.

Women’s Views on News (WVoN) is a women’s news, opinions and current affairs site, operating on a not-for-profit basis.

Set up in January 2010 we write news, features and opinion pieces exclusively about women.

Plenty of current affairs reading of relevance to women and those interested in women's opinions on the world. You can also get involved as a volunteer journalist or editor.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

World Peace

"The World is Getting Better. Quickly."

That's not an assertion 24-hour rolling news would have us believing, but it appears to be true.

From the eradication of Smallpox and Polio through to Steven Pinker's observation on The Surprising Decline in Violence (incidentally backed up by the UN).

That's why this interview with Bill Gates is particularly uplifting. It takes a look at the decline in child mortality rates, right through to halving the extreme poverty rate.

Today, we often use the world's biggest problems as metaphors for impossibility. But the evidence shows that, actually, we're really good at solving even the most intimidating challenges in the world. 

Good stuff.

Also, check out Hans Rosling's video on population growth.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013


As you know, I'm constantly looking for alternatives to JustGiving.

A while back I mentioned Red Bow White Box, which is a crowdfunding alternative that is tailored to helping people set up fundraising pages for any event or organisation, not just those charities that have registered with them.

Still waiting for someone to feed back on that site, but my friend Suzanne recently set up a campaign using Fundrazr.

Very similar concept, with the tag line: Crowdfund Anything. Anywhere.

The impressive thing about FundRazr is the extent to which they seem to have cottoned on to Social Media fundraising, making it easy to share your campaign via Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Blogger. They even offer Facebook widgets:

Every FundRazr campaign includes a fundraising widget which runs your fully-functional campaign on Websites and blogs. To install the widget, simply copy and paste a few lines of code into your Website HTML. Not a Webmaster? Don’t worry. Our simple tutorials will walk you through the process.

Looks fairly impressive, and includes a money raised visual so you can see how far you've got left to go.

Monday, 11 February 2013


Thank you to my lovely development buddy, Lies Vandenbossche, for pointing out this resource.

Source is an international online resource centre designed to strengthen the management, use and impact of information on disability and inclusion in development and humanitarian contexts. 

I was looking for a manual I remembered, which provided instructions for villagers with few resources to create basic mobility items for disabled people.

They have quite an extensive resource library where you can find lots of free publications along those lines. Some of the key areas include:

  • Health and functional rehabilitation
  • Education
  • Livelihoods
  • Social inclusion
  • Humanitarian

Worth checking out. You can also add your own resources to the database.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Iron Age Strategy

This caught my attention, mentioned in a book group. Iron Age, Council of the Clans by Professor of Philosophy, Brendan Myers.

Quite a while back, when this blog first began, I mentioned the World Trade Game.

This one is a table-top strategy where you have to:

...compete and co-operate with each other to build a community.

The better you manage your village, and the better you manage your relations with other players, the more honour you will gain. And the more honour you gain, the better your position will be at a special democratic assembly...

Doesn't that just sound like the Voluntary Sector all over?

As well as being Friday Fun, games like this can also be a useful team-building and strategic thinking exercise. I know we're always complaining, as organisations, that we're overworked and under-resourced, but if you can manage to shoehorn in a half-day once a month to play games like this, you might just discover productivity in the office starts to rocket.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Social Enterprise Coalition

We've looked at a few examples of social enterprise and entrepreneurship in development this week, from ice-cream in Libya to sanitary towels in India and water bottle lights. 

However, if you're interested in Social Enterprise in the UK, you might like to check out the previous post on Why Social Enterprise, as well as this link to the UK's Social Enterprise Coalition.

Have you ever bought the Big Issue? Read it over a bar of Divine chocolate? Watched Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen? Visited the Eden Project? Shopped at the Co-op?

Well, then you already know a bit about social enterprises: businesses that are changing the world for the better...

We are the national body for social enterprise. We represent our members to support and help grow the social enterprise movement.  

There are also some funding leads in the posts on Funding Circle and Social Investment Funding.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Soda Bottle Light

This week seems to have become a bit of a look at innovation and social entrepreneurship in development. How simple ideas can become life-changing tools. 

The above is one of the most incredible. A guy who discovered that a bottle of water could transform into a 50 watt bulb.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Rags to Pads

Here's another interesting story of Social Entrepreneurship. 

A monumental task undertaken by a man (a school drop out) to address the dismal state of menstrual hygiene among women has unexpected consequences, potential to result in a million jobs for women.

Social Enterprise at its best.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Ice-cream Dreams

I love this story. It's an example of the way in which capitalism isn't always so bad. Making things a little sweeter in difficult times:

Since the uprising, gelato shops have been opening up in almost every busy street - with names such as Buenissimo, Limona and GilatiItalia.

"There's a market for it here… Libyans are proud of things like this because we didn't have it before," says Hussein Bannour, the owner of Buenissimo...

"It matches the weather - but we still have sun," one customer enthused, looking at the dizzying range of 36 mounds of gelato on display.

Children squealed with delight as they dug into the soft ice cream. "I love it!" one seven year old said.

It's a fairly incredible testament to universal comforts that, after everything Libya's been through, the thing most people want to set up are caf├ęs and ice-cream shops. Guess it's the simple things that signal progress.

Friday, 1 February 2013

World Population

You might want to pop over and see this week's Voluntary Sector Humour at source: Per Square Mile. Lots of fun statistics. Turns out the world isn't over-populated, we're just shockingly bad at managing sustainable resources.