Tuesday, 30 April 2013

African Remittance

A man changes a 50 USD bank note for Congolese Francs with a money changer in the street of Kinshasa.  

Interesting piece of research:

In 2010 - the most recent year for which meaningful comparisons can be made, according to Mr Bodomo - the African diaspora remitted $51.8bn (£34bn) to the continent.

In the same year, according to World Bank figures, ODA to Africa was $43bn (£28bn)...

"About 12% of diaspora money sent home through formal financial channels is swallowed up by bank fees. Governments should find ways to reduce this so more funds get to people who need them." 

A perpetual problem working with NGOs on the continent. I recall the frustration of trying to work out how to send a £10 donation to a local NGO in East Africa when it would cost a further £30 in bank charges. In this day and age, it would help if PayPal truly was global.

If you are transferring large sums, check out FIRMA Exchange.

Monday, 29 April 2013


vision2learn further education courses  

Useful tip for people interested in the Voluntary Sector.

Vision2Learn are offering free college courses, including:

  • Equality & Diversity
  • Business & Administration
  • Customer Service
  • Sports Coaching
  • IT Skills

To qualify you need to have been resident in the EU for the past three years.

Courses are up to NCFE Level 2 and are estimated to take around twelve weeks, though you can complete them much sooner as you work at your own pace. 

You undertake the course online, though you need to fill out a form to register with your local college even though you don't have to attend any lectures. There's also a £65 administration fee if you withdraw from the course without completing it.

Useful for the CV.

Thursday, 25 April 2013


Really wanted to do a post on SMART planning. I spend a lot of time helping people to develop three-year strategies for their organisations, which include logic frameworks to map out how things will be achieved and what will be measured.

I find that people often struggle with SMART planning, which stands for goals that are: 

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Realistic (or Relevant)
  • Time-Bound

Here's a great little slideshow explaining how this works practically. It's aimed at individuals, but completely applicable to organisations.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013


nominet internet awards 2012 shortlisted

I've mentioned KnowHow NonProfit a few times in the past, mostly for their free HowTo Voluntary Sector wiki, and for the fact they nominated me their 'good egg' of 2011.

Another part of their site that might interest both organisations and volsec professionals is their StudyZone.

For Organisations...

Need top notch consultancy or expert guidance on anything from getting your message across effectively, to management training, and developing fundraising campaigns?

StudyZone offers video guidance at an extremely reasonable £8.99 each, or £12.99 per month for small organisations, providing access to everything. Check out their price plan and weigh it against the potential benefit to your NGO. You can even get a free sample course to help you decide.

For Consultants...

If you're an expert in your field, you can contact NCVO and offer to deliver a course for them. This is done on a voluntary basis, but they'll reimburse your travel, help you to develop a script, and whisk you down to their recording studio in London for the filming. You can find a list of topics that people are requesting training on.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Gift Aid: Charities Online

Just a heads-up if you're a UK charity claiming, or interested in claiming, Gift Aid. You want to hop over to HMRC and read this:

From 22 April 2013, charities and Community Amateur Sports Clubs can sign up to make repayment claims electronically.

The new service, Charities Online, is being introduced in response to customer feedback. It will make repayment claims faster and easier by filing online. The current R68(i) print and post repayment form will be replaced by three options for making claims.

These guides tell you what Charities Online means for your organisation and how to prepare for it.

If this is the first you've heard of Charities Online, you wouldn't be the only one. A search of the Charity Commission and NCVO websites whilst compiling this post yielded nothing. The guides on HMRC only really make sense if you already know what Gift Aid is all about, they seem to have missed the 'What is Charities Online?' section and skipped straight to 'Using Charities Online'.

Still, if you need a beginner's guide to Gift Aid, try starting with Gift Aid Made Simple (PDF) and progressing to the HMRC Gift Aid archive.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Class Divide

A couple of weeks ago, we learned that Britain has moved from a standard three-tier class system of Upper, Middle and Working, to a seven-tier system calculated not just by income, but my social and cultural engagement.

I am no longer 'middle class,' I am an 'emergent service worker'.

You can take the test here, and read the hilarious responses from Twitter here.

I'm curious to know whether this will have an impact on fundraising approaches? When fundraising and marketing, we're always taught to be aware of our target audience. This now provides yet another way in which we can classify people and tailor the ways in which we ask them to give.

What do you think? Does class influence how much we give, what we give to, whether we're likely to volunteer, or whether we're likely to become a service user?

Friday, 19 April 2013

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Draft in Here?

Just a really quick tip.

When working on draft documents between multiple contributors, always stick the word 'draft' somewhere in the file title.

This helps prevent it from accidentally being sent or used in place of the final document in the future.

Sounds obvious, but as more offices move to collaborative options like DropBox and Google Drive, it's a point worth highlighting. It saves that awkward moment where you have to e-mail your client and tell them: Sorry for the typos, here's what I should have sent.

Nobody needs to see your working out.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Lemon Lift


To be honest, this would be better listed under Voluntary Sector Humour than Monday Reality. 

Some 2009 research proved that smelling citrus dramatically increases our charitable nature...

Windex-ed room participants were significantly more interested in volunteering (4.21 on a 7-point scale) than those in the unscented room (3.29). In addition 22% of Windex-ed room participants said they’d like to donate money, compared to only 6% of those in a normal room.

The article goes on to suggest ways in which you can cunningly wangle lemony scent into the nostrils of event goers.

A commenter on the discussion in the Fundraising Professionals LinkedIn group went on to say:

You will find that this is also used very effectively in direct mailing campaigns and a number of print and fullfillment agencies will offer lemon and orange impregnation. 

Fair dinkum, or a little underhanded?

Friday, 12 April 2013

Sneezing Policy

This week's Voluntary Sector Humour comes courtesy of The Policy Bank. I've mentioned them before because they're a great resource for finding policy and procedure templates for your NGO. It was whilst looking for one myself that I noticed this, under Other Templates.

If you want to see if your board is paying attention, slide this policy into your policy pack. No comments? It's possible no one's read your policies.


Thursday, 11 April 2013

Love The Cause

This is such an important article: How to make a graceful exit

Kimberly Mackenzie, a Canadian fundraising pioneer, talks about maintaining good donor relations when leaving an organisation. She makes an extremely important assertion:

Donors give because they love the cause. Not because they love you.

This is something I've seen organisations forget whilst being blown away by the whirlwind of self-promotion, image, branding and expansion. 

A charity comes into existence to address a need and solve a problem. Wherever there are people who need something, there are others who are willing to give. The organisation's function is to make that process of transferring resources, skills and funds from the latter group to the former as smooth and efficient as possible.

Campaigns are about facilitating people's interest. When you start to get bogged down in administration and image, stop to ask yourself: what are you serving? The organisation or the cause? 

Ideally, both, but the organisation should be built around the cause. If it's getting murky, take things back to basics and rethink how your organisation serves the cause. If it's not clear to you, it won't be clear to your donors either.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

World Without Hate

Time for an inspirational video. Liked this one.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Community Asset Transfer

This post is brought about due to a project I'm currently involved in. The idea is to work towards a community and heritage centre. The problem is finding a premises.

To purchase a building outright on the private market, we'd be looking at something in the region of half a million pounds. You try finding the donor who's happy to risk that on a start-up, yet alone one who is, in today's project-oriented world, interested in lump spending on core assets. You'd be looking at an uphill struggle. Maybe not impossible, but certainly not easy.

Enter Community Asset Transfer:

Local authorities are empowered to transfer the ownership of land and buildings to communities for less than their market value. This is known as ‘discounted asset transfer’ or ‘asset transfer’. This shift in ownership of land and buildings from public bodies to communities is Localism in action, giving greater powers to: 
  • community and voluntary sector organisations 
  • community and social enterprises 
  • individuals looking to form a not-for-private-profit group to benefit their neighbourhood 

The general idea is that empty and derelict buildings aren't cost efficient for councils, so they write off the public benefit of using those buildings against the cost of purchasing them, resulting in greatly reduced sale prices for non-profits. No empty  building for the council, shiny new recreation centre for the community.

The list of unused buildings is often vast. In our area we even found an abandoned hospital! One of my friends runs a folk festival in Fife. He set up a local Community Trust and they've just taken over the town hall via asset transfer.

The savings truly are vast, sometimes only asking 2% of the market value of the property. Of course there are further considerations such as running costs, amenities, renovation etc. but the likelihood of finding funding to take over a property at those rates is far greater than trying to purchase one on the open market.

If Asset Transfer is of interest to you, here's some useful links (thanks to my dad, who works in Housing and knows all about this sort of stuff...):

Locality (England)

Monday, 8 April 2013


Worthwhile point to bear in mind: Twitter Strategy: the 80/20 Rule

80% of your social media activity should be about helping your community, and 20% should be about promoting yourself.

Follow the link to find out why. A good balance to strike.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Ahem... The Poor

This week's Voluntary Sector Humour probably won't be to everyone's taste, but Tim Minchin is one of my all-time favourite entertainers, and he did perform it at a Shelter benefit gig recently ;)

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Slum Echoes

A friend asked me to share this. It's a project he's involved in in Kisenyi, Uganda's oldest slum. A few years back I visited Go Down whilst in Kampala, and I can attest to the fact it isn't pretty. There's a Slum Map listing the major ones.

There is also the Twekembe Slum Project, worth checking out.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Charity Bank Announcement

I know, everything I've been talking about this week harks back to Monday's post on rethinking charity.

Most of what I talk about recently has also been prompted by debates on LinkedIn. This one (I've lost the link) was about registering charities limited by guarantee or shares. Personally, I've never come across a charity limited by shares. Turns out it is possible, and The Charity Bank was held up as an example.

The Charity Bank is the only other major UK contender for charity banking option of the decade. The first being The Co-operative, which has itself taken a knock on the nose recently.

The Charity Commission has just come out with the following statement:

Unfortunately, the requirements of the banking regulations mean that it not possible for Charity Bank to continue both as a charity and as a bank. 

Charity Bank is the only operational bank that has charity status. It was registered as a charity in 2002. Its income for the last financial year was £4.9million...

In the specific and unique circumstances of this case, the Commission considers that it is in the interests of enabling the furtherance of the charitable purposes of Charity Bank to agree to changes in Charity Bank’s articles which mean it would cease to be a charity but can continue to further the purposes for which it was established.  
A prime example of the death of innovation Dan Pallotta was describing. So, what needs to change? Banking regulations, the Charity Commission? Nothing? It's prompted more debate in Charity UK.

[After this post, in June 2013: Charity Commission approves proposals to change the structure of Charity Bank]

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Business in the Community

Yesterday's post about Dan Pallotta piqued my interest in Private Sector Philanthropy a little.

Someone on LinkedIn was recently asking about advice on Corporate Membership packages. To which another person responded with a link to Business in the Community.

We are a business-led charity with a unique ability to convene the most senior business leaders from UK and global companies.

We engage over 330 senior business leaders from UK-based companies on our campaign and regional Leadership Teams and on our Board of Trustee Directors.

They list their key interests as:

  • Education & young people
  • Enterprise & culture
  • Workplace & employees
  • Tackling unemployment
  • Marketplace sustainability

You can find out more about each of those on their website.

First time I'd heard of them, and brought to mind other Private/Voluntary Sector cross-overs such as the Social Enterprise Coalition and Funding Circle. They seem to offer help with consultancy, volunteering and training. If you approach them, please drop a comment to say how it went.

Monday, 1 April 2013