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Lobbying and the Election – what charities can and can’t do

With a general election now scheduled for 8 June, many charities will be wondering how they can engage with the public and politicians to raise awareness of their work and the issues that matter to them. Charities can play an important role during elections, helping to facilitate and inform public debates, and they should feel confident in doing this, as long as they heed relevant guidance.

Importantly, in this general election period, special guidance from the Charity Commission applies. It can be found here. While many charities say they have felt deterred from campaigning in recent years, this guidance is actually fairly enabling. It should not unduly hinder charities campaigning in a responsible and non-partisan way.

For example, five things that charities can do are:

Continue campaigning on issues
Reach out to the candidates and ask their views on issues
Publish candidates’ views on issues
Host a debate between candidates or invite them to issue-focussed events
Publish a manifesto or briefing materials on issues

From Read the full article

Instagram For Charities: How Can You Make The Most Of It?

More and more organisations are using Instagram to reach a wider audience. In 2013, a survey of 100 charities found that none of them had a presence on the popular image-sharing app. Since then, the number of charities using the platform has grown dramatically, and it has become a force to be reckoned with.

1) Why Should Your Charity Be on Instagram?
You need to be part of the conversation.

If your posts are topical, you have the potential to reach an extremely wide audience. Charities and nonprofits are often rich with compelling stories and imagery – Instagram is a great way to visually share and bring them to a new audience.
Reaching a wide audience.

Instagram is first and foremost a community-led platform – and the fastest growing one, too, with 600 million monthly users and counting. Instagram is a great platform to reach the next generation of supporters and donors – both millennials and Gen Z. In fact, 70% of all young millennials are on the platform.

Introduce yourself.
Instagram users tend to use the platform as a discovery tool – to find inspiration, engage with ideas, and find out new things. This provides a great opportunity for charities, especially as most of the content in people’s Instagram feeds is from people they don’t know, making it the perfect place to introduce your organisation or cause to a new audience.

2) What Content Should You Be Sharing?
Built for mobile.

Images that work best are compelling, consistent, and tell the viewer everything they need to know in one frame. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, either – Instagram is built for mobile, so images taken on a smartphone work well. It’s worth A/B testing different types of content to see what resonates with your audience.

Be recognisable.

Well-crafted images help drive engagement – it is essential to have your brand incorporated somehow in most images, whether its your product, a logo, a colour, or your name. This is important because people can ‘regram’ your image from their own accounts, which is fantastic in terms of reaching new audiences. However, you don’t want to lose any brand cache, so the image should have strong branding, if possible.

Keep it real.

According to Instagram, in 2016, being amusing is the top attribute millennials associate with content they like to follow (57%), followed by creative content (52%), beautiful content (48%) and inspiring content (43%). But remember – don’t force it! It’s also important to be authentic.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Free guide to GDPR and data protection for charities

A free guide to help charities understand General Data Protection Regulation and comply with data protection law has been published. GDPR is a new EU law governing data protection, which will supersede the Data Protection Act in 2018.  GDPR will not introduce widespread changes to existing law, but will increase the monetary penalties for non-compliance.

The new guide, “Fundraising and data protection: a survival guide for the uninitiated”, has been published by consultant Tim Turner, a former policy manager at the Information Commissioner’s Office, who has been highly critical of charities’ understanding of data protection, and of the Institute of Fundraising’s guidance and approach.

The guide is also critical of charities’ handling of newspaper criticism, and of some reaction to recent actions from the ICO, who are responsible for ensuring charities comply with data protection law.

The guide includes key points for fundraisers to be aware of – read the FULL article HERE.


Six Ways Charity Boards Can Make Their Workload Manageable

Is your board super busy? Top tips on sharing the burden: bring in specialist expertise, include more junior staff and work with service users.

People on voluntary sector boards have heavy workloads – so what’s the best way to share the burden? Sub-committees may not seem exciting, but, used properly, delegating tasks will help your board to be brilliant.

1. Let them delve into detail
Charity trustees often want to get involved in the nitty gritty. But in a busy board meeting, with a tight agenda, that can sometimes be a pain in the neck.

However, executives and trustees will still want to work together from time to time, to delve into detail. Sub-committees are the way to do this without taking precious time away from the primary board meeting. It’s a great way for charity staff to engage with trustees and vice versa, enabling trustees to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day issues affecting the charity while offering their own expertise.

2. Bring in specialists
If your board is proposing something new, controversial or risky, setting up a sub-committee is a clever way to use people who can bring in particular expertise but who, for whatever reason, do not want to or cannot be a full trustee.

Discussions of fundraising regulation have led to a mini governance crisis. It’s time to get trustees more involved with the day-to-day work of charities

It is also a good way to test whether people come up to scratch in terms of their style and expertise, giving you a bigger pool to choose from when recruiting for your main board.

You should also consider the “internal” outsider: someone already on your main board who is interested in a particular issue but is not an expert. They can be used as a sounding board (pun intended) and this is often a great way to test a proposal before presenting it to the rest of the board.

3. Don’t let sub-committees linger on pointlessly
It’s important to close any committee when it has run its course. For instance, you may set one up for a digital needs review and then close it when the review has been done. But committees can also evolve. Something that starts as a review of digital needs could turn into a committee that monitors the implementation of an organisational IT strategy, for instance.

To read the full Guardian article click here.

From: The Guardian – Voluntary Sector Network

Brilliant Boards: How to Create the Best Voluntary Sector Set of Trustees

With 2017 now in full swing, voluntary sector trustees up and down the country will be thinking about what their board could do better, and what they, as an individual trustee, can do differently.

Here are five resolutions to help make 2017’s board your best yet:

This may seems obvious. But we know that too many boards are merely rubber-stamping the decisions of their executives without suitable scrutiny and challenge.

The voluntary sector has witnessed the press rail against it in 2016 and high-profile cases have thrust to centre stage the fact that too many charities still have poor governance. As a trustee, challenging decisions is one of your primary roles.

Do a skills audit
Getting the right skills on your board is vital for good governance, to ensure the team can fulfil its primary commitment – to challenge.

Charities need to take risks as well as avoid them, so trustees and managers should draw up a policy to put these in context
Having the right brains around the table to navigate your charity through its challenges and opportunities over the coming year is critical and a skills audit will help you identify the gaps. When scoping the landscape, remind yourself of who is due to step down and when. You don’t want to end up without finance expertise because your forgot your treasurer was due to stand down in the next year. Essentially, you need to analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the skills on your board.

Evaluate your board
Trustees should not be afraid to evaluate each other and themselves to ensure their board is fit for purpose. It sets a powerful precedent when boards hold the mirror up to themselves to evaluate their effectiveness.

This means a top-to-tail review of the people, processes, papers, timetabling, committee use and executive involvement. And on an individual level this is also a good time to consider your own contribution to the board.

Are you just coasting? Perhaps it’s time for you to lend your skills elsewhere and allow your seat around the table to be filled by someone else who can contribute in a different way. Knowing when to step down from a board is critical to that board’s survival. Lame duck trustees are a nuisance.

To read the full article click here

Source: The Guardian

New Charity Checklist Part 2

Following on from last weeks Directory of Social Change’s five checklist points, here are five more to get you thinking about what you should be doing as a charity.

1. Implement a communication plan
Following on from creating a brand identity, it is now important to find your voice and use it effectively to communicate. In order to fundraise, raise awareness and make a difference you need to get your message out there. Any piece of communication, a photograph or an article, should be well considered and compelling.

2. Get online
One of the best ways to get your charity and your message out there is by having an online presence. This means a website that can be accessed on a mobile phone, as well as social media accounts especially Twitter and Facebook.

3. Invest in training
Investing in training for your staff is worthwhile and will see you reaping the rewards. Fundraising in particular is a skill that is hugely important for anyone working at a charity.

4. Find trustees
You usually need at least three unrelated people with a range of skills to serve on a governing board. Their main role is to take general control of the decisions, direction and administration of the charity.

5. Register with the Charity Commission
If your charity’s income is at least £5,000 per year, you must apply to register with the Charity Commission. Find out more on their website.

New Charity Checklist Part 1

So you’ve got a great idea for a charity, penned down a name, established a vision and are raring to go. What next? Starting a charity is a tall order and requires time, patient planning and a fair bit of paperwork!

Take a look at Directory of Social Changes checklist for new charities to help you find your feet.

1. Get your finances in order
Cash flow, tax, VAT, investment, risk management… Finance jargon is complicated and most likely requires help from an expert. Find an accountant and iron out the ins and outs of your charity’s finance. All registered charities abide by a total transparency policy; you must make your financial activity publically available.

2. Put together a fundraising plan
You’ll need a strong fundraising strategy with long and short term aims. Ask yourself these questions: how will you raise money and from where, how much do you need, how long do you have? The fundraising world is diverse and complex, from trusts and foundations to government schemes, corporate funding to public donations. Familiarise yourself with it and make use of the many resources dedicated to finding funding.

3. Register for Gift Aid
Often overlooked, Gift Aid is a simple way to increase the value of your donations allowing you to reclaim tax. For every £1 donated, you can claim an additional 25p – make use of this.

4. Legal lowdown
As is the case when establishing any organisation, there are laws and regulations to comply with such as employment laws and health and safety. It is probably worth seeking professional advice with this one as the size, complexity and structure of your charity should all be taken into consideration.

5. Consider a brand identity
One of the most important first steps. As a charity you must be as visible to beneficiaries, volunteers and donors as possible. Having a clear, consistent and compelling brand identity is crucial to ensuring this. Take time to make sure that your name, strapline and logo are all cohesive- you want to tell a story and engage.

Why not come back next week to view the Directory of Social Changes next set of five Charity checklist?

Ten Steps to Digital Transformation at Charities

DigitalCharity leaders and digital specialists have important roles in stewarding digital change at their organisation to transform fundraising, communication and services.

Here are ten steps to bear in mind when planning a digital project.

1. Start with the user

When planning your digital project, it’s easy to start in the middle with ‘we need a new website’. But the project needs to go back to the start, and identify if these are really the most essential things, and why. What are the needs of your service users, staff and supporters? What other technology do they currently use? Then you can start to map out the changes you need to make to serve them in the best way, and what outcomes you want to achieve.

2. Decide where you want to end up

It’s surprisingly common to start a project without a clear idea of the result you want, and if this happens, you could find that later on, costs spiral while deadlines get pushed back. It’s especially important at this stage that all those on the board and in the executive leadership team are in agreement about the overall objectives and how they hope these will be delivered.

Read the FULL article at:


Ten Reasons Why Video Can Work for Your Charity

cameraVideo dominates the internet and is predicted to grow strongly into the future, but why is video such a powerful medium?

Here are 10 reasons why videos can work for you, according to video movie agency, Movey:

1. Videos show you in the most human way currently possible. People buy from people is an old adage and it is no less true in an online scenario than face-to-face. Video is far better than face-to-face in the sense that you can craft your message to perfection and deliver it in a clear, concise way, which is not always possible in a crowded room.

2. Videos are editable. If the message you want to get across needs to change, or the people delivering it move on, then so can your video. Don’t think of videos as static, like an outdated brochure or catalogue. They are living, breathing creations that evolve.

3. People don’t have time to read through vast amounts of text so it can be simpler to show supporters a video than give them still images and words. Words can sometimes be misinterpreted but a video cannot. Videos build trust in your brand.

4. Video makes for more engaging emails. These days, everyone’s inbox is filled with all kinds of messages. From colleagues, family, social media notifications and marketing emails. These days you have to do so much more to stand out from the crowd. Video can help you to be noticed… and for your emails to be opened. Statistics clearly show that videos help achieve much better email opening rates than text and images alone.

5. Video works hand-in-hand with your social media campaign. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google, receiving some 4 billion views every single day. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram encourage video and people have an insatiable appetite for it, precisely because it is more engaging. Once viewers start engaging with your brand and sharing your content, they are on the right road.

6. You will stand out from the crowd. The human brain remembers more from images than text. Therefore, it goes without saying that if you have a more engaging video than other charities you are more likely to win a viewer’s trust and support.

7. Improve your search engine optimisation (SEO). If there is a video on your web page, it is likely to boost your ranking. Visitors to your website will stick around for longer to watch a video. The longer they hang around, the more likely they are to engage with your brand.

8. Humans are emotional creatures and react to videos that engage them. That doesn’t mean of course that your video has to contain a cute kitten to make people watch it and engage but the underlying driver is clear. When you have a compelling video it engages people and naturally increases interest in your brand.

9. Videos can explain all kinds of things. Did you know that if you Google “How to put on a duvet cover”, you will find an array of videos to explain how to do it. If you have to explain something on a repeated basis, video can take on the burden.

10. Videos are always available. People are always connected with their smartphones, answering emails in the early hours and watching video content. When your doors have closed and there is no human on the end of the phone, videos are there for you.

Using Social Media

Social MediaUsing social media is a great way for organisations to connect with other organisations, find new members and share news of their activities with people all over the world. It doesn’t matter whether you choose to use social media a little or a lot, it can be a cost – effective way to increase your promotion activities.


Reasons to use social media

  • Share your news, activities and events with thousands of other people – increase your profile.  You don’t have to wait for your news to be picked up by the local press.  You can self-publish!
  • Connect with your members and friends – spread messages and updates quickly:
  • Make new connections – Increase your membership and develop new opportunities.
  • Monitor developments and news in areas you are interested in – discover new opportunities, get a flavour of the issues affecting your stakeholders, get a better understanding of your area.
  • Promote your group – increase your presence and join in conversations about topics that affect you

    Most sites are free to use.

Staying safe
Social media can be a bit of a minefield.  Exercise caution at all times and think about the consequences of what you decide to share online.

Not everyone on social media is who they say they are.  Apply common sense if you are not sure about someone’s reasons for getting touch.

Things can go wrong
It can be very easy to offend, upset or mislead – especially when you are restricted by Twitter’s 140 character limit.

Is it working?
Sometimes it’s difficult to see the benefits.  You might spend lots of time on your social media profile and see no difference.  Keep going; building a profile is a snowball effect.

Don’t be put off by the language used, check out our jargon buster at the end of the attached information sheet.

To see the full factsheet click here.

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