Thursday, 28 November 2013

Keep Co-op Ethical Campaign

Like all of their customers, I admit to feeling a little heartbroken by the recent spate of disasters that have hit The Co-operative Bank, an institution that made its name as the UK's ethical bank.

More than being a personal account holder, I have long steered my charity start-up clients towards the Co-op. The dodgy dealings of most high street banks, especially in relation to the arms trade, are all too apparent. It makes sense that charities, as engines for social equality, should want a banking system that reflects their values.

So, I feel let down not just for myself, but also for my clients.

It remains to be seen what will become of the Co-operative brand in terms of ethics. For the time being, they still offer, by far, the best deal for charity banking with regard to their free banking review limit and the convenience of being able to bank at your local post office. There is still an ethical checklist for opening an account with them... though this may seem a little hypocritical having just been taken over by hedge funds.

I'd love to be able to champion an alternative ethical bank, such as Triodos or Charity Bank, but given this wide open opportunity to sell themselves amongst a captive audience, their lack of promotional enthusiasm is itself unenthusing. After spending time staring at their websites, all I really want to know is: how do your accounts measure up against what I used to have? Especially in terms of charity banking. Eventually I'm sure I will get around to doing the research and reading the small print.

For the time being, I'm willing to fight for the bank I always used to be extremely proud to be a part of.

You can too, by joining:

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Views on Aid

With UK aid to India and South Africa due to end in 2015, the BBC have done a round up of opinions:

They range from everything including:

Billions that could be paying for medical operations, nurses, police and other forms of public welfare in the UK are essentially tossed into a void by the one government agency that has not had to become more efficient or make budget cuts.


Well-targeted and transparent international development can create jobs, increase tax collection and support a sustainable public sector. It is about ending aid dependency - in the end, that is the only sustainable route out of poverty. 

It is a little depressing to see that so many people miss the link between creating jobs and health care in other countries and a decline in all the things the Daily Mail likes to fear monger about in the UK: illegal immigration, benefit claims and health care fraud. Most people really do not wish to leave their homes and their families to risk drowning in the open ocean. The UK is cold, expensive and hostile to immigrants, it really isn't the utopia we like to think it is. People do this out of desperation, not because it's a holiday opportunity.

It is a complex issue, but the stats show that development is working, and we'd get a lot further faster if we weren't also selling cart loads of weapons to countries to maintain states of civil war or occupation. Anger at aid spending seems rather misdirected when you consider why developing countries are often in the state they are.

Let's not be under any illusion here. The UK and USA are not in massive financial difficulty because they overspent on international aid. If they cannot manage the money they already have, how will denying others a helping hand improve the situation at home?

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

PowerPoint Handouts

A nice WikiHow on How to Create Powerpoint Handouts. Useful for training sessions and professional development. However, I would suggest not colouring the background as this will take a heavy toll on your printer's ink costs. Black and white economy printing is absolutely fine, especially when you have lots of printing to do.

The other thing it doesn't explain is that you can remove slides by right clicking on them and selecting 'hide' in the main section of PowerPoint.

Then, when you go to print your handouts (MS hotkey: ALT+F for File, then P for Print), simply un-tick the box that says 'Print hidden slides'.

'Print hidden slides,' second tick box above OK

It's best to print to a PDF (using something like CutePDF) so that you can review it for errors before committing to the full printing process.

Also, don't forget to un-hide the slides before giving your presentation.

Another top tip is that if you choose three slides per page, this leaves enough space next to the slide images for people to write notes. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

BT Community Web Kit

Looking for a free website for your organisation?

Check out the BT Community Web Kit, it includes;

  • Free website hosting
  • Free website addresses
  • The choice of 8 templates with five or 15 colour themes depending on the template selected
    1 free format template
  • Enough space for unlimited pages and up to 500 pictures
  • Templates and colour options for all your content
  • An easy-to-use Page Editor or an HTML Editor if you’re technically minded
  • Free technical support
  • Welsh language options

If you do use this, please drop a comment below with a link to what you've created and a little bit about how easy you found it to use.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Headington Institute

Excellent resource site for aid workers, called the Headington Institute.

They offer a range of free online training modules, including:

  • Coping with travel and re-entry stress (also known as Re-Entry Syndrome/Reverse Culture Shock)
  • Stress and stress management for national staff
  • Self-care for family members of humanitarian workers
  • Understanding and coping with traumatic stress

Really worthwhile organisation, caring for humanitarian caregivers.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Whirlwind Tour of Development Data

I do love Hans Rosling.

I've posted before about World Peace, and how it's not all doom and gloom.

Though it's still hard to reconcile with the ever widening gap between rich and poor, even in the UK.

If we could crack that, we'd surely be flying. 

For more on Rosling, check out this BBC article.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Which Social Media?

Instead of making life more productive, social media can have a nasty habit of swallowing up all of your time and leaving people feeling stressy.

Something I encounter quite a bit are organisations that are trying to join every type of social media they can, because they're either worried about being left behind, or they're not sure what they actually need.

The main thing about Social Media that you mustn't forget, is that the whole point is to reach as many people as possible with the least amount of effort.

With that in mind, there's an awful lot of social media you can do without. Your entire strategy can pretty much rely on four key platforms:

  • Facebook: Get yourself a Facebook page rather than a group to begin with. A page is like a fan site. All people need to do to show their support is to 'like' you. With a group, people have to go through the process of joining. The benefit of a group is that people can start discussions, whereas a page is more of a mouthpiece for your news and information. My advice is to get the page sorted out first, then you can use it to advertise interest groups (i.e. for campaigns) later down the line when you want supporters to become more engaged. You can also use Facebook for fundraising.
  • Twitter: You really do want a twitter feed. Everybody's on it nowadays, and it's an excellent tool for getting your news and information out there, particularly to audiences you might not otherwise find.
  • YouTube: A media channel is always good to include. People engage with video in a way they don't engage with a wall of text. It's a great way to get your message across. Plus, uploading your videos to something like YouTube or Vimeo allows others to share them, and makes it easy to embed on your own social media.
  • Blog: Blogs are excellent ways of giving supporters a more in-depth glimpse of life in the trenches. It's also a fun way to involve volunteers, by getting them to contribute posts, artwork etc. Personally, I'm a fan of Blogger, as it's easy to set up and manage, plus you can now add static pages, so you could use it for both your website and your blog if you want to. WordPress is another favourite, though they do try to up-sell you if you want to add extras.

Those are The Big Four.

Before you sign up to everything, check whether you can get the same account name on each of your socmedia channels. This helps to maintain your brand, and makes it easier for people to find you.

What about Google+ and LinkedIn? You may ask. 

Well, they're examples of what to weigh up when you're putting together your social media strategy. Google+ hasn't really taken off massively, and I'd hazard that 99.9% of all people who have a Google+ account also have a Facebook account.

Do you really want to spend time posting in two separate places when you're unlikely to reach any new audiences?

LinkedIn is similar. It's a really good place to network and hunt for jobs as an industry professional, but it's not really somewhere that you would engage with your day-to-day supporters as an organisation.

Best to conserve your energy and focus on traditionally well-established platforms, at least to begin with.

Another thing that can help to take the load off is to schedule your social media posts. That way you can line them up once a week, or once a month. It's always good to pop in and re-tweet, or re-post content, but at least you know something will be posted even on days when you don't have the time to do that.

If you need a hand, I offer a Social Media Package.

Monday, 4 November 2013


I saw on a VolSec forum recently someone asking how Foursquare works. Here's a helpful (if sickly sweet) introduction. If you run a social enterprise or community centre, worth getting yourself listed.