October 2017

Monthly Archives

Trustees Required at Citizens Advice Sandwell

Trustees Required

Citizens Advice Sandwell are holding their AGM on 7th December and are looking for Trustees to serve on the Board.

Citizens Advice provides free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to everyone on their rights and responsibilities. We’re here to make our society fairer.

Citizens Advice Sandwell provides services across the Metropolitan Borough of Sandwell for more than 10,500 people each year, dealing with over 36,000 problems. As a charity, we support some of the most disadvantaged and socially excluded communities in the area, with Sandwell being the 12th highest area of deprivation in the UK.

We are looking for people with strategic vision, independent judgment and a willingness to give time and commitment to being a trustee. We are particularly looking for people with either finance or community experience.

A post of trustee is unpaid, but will provide you with a great deal of experience and satisfaction.  All reasonable expenses are reimbursed.

We are particularly keen to achieve a more diverse board of trustees and welcome applications from all sections of the community

For an information and application pack please email: Jo.beasant@citizensadvicesandwell.org.uk

For more information and an informal discussion on the role of trustee, please contact:

Vicki Fitzgerald (Chief Executive Officer) or Farooq Hussain (Chair)


Vicki.fitzgerald@citizensadvicesancewell.org.uk or


Closing date 15th November 2017

AVIVA Community Fund…Your Vote Counts!

The Aviva Community Fund offers the chance to get funding for an important cause in your community.

It’s open to everyone – the general public as well as Aviva customers, employees, insurance brokers or financial advisers (whether associated with Aviva or not). We want you to enter a project for your community and tell us what a difference these much-needed funds could make.

Get enough votes from friends, family and supporters in your community and your project could be entered into the Finals, where a judging panel will award the funds.

The Public vote is now open and there’s great representation from groups across the Sandwell Borough…visit https://community-fund.aviva.co.uk/acfcms/get-involved to see the nominations and get instructions on how you can cast your votes (yes, you have 10 votes that you can cast!)

But don’t delay…voting closes on the 21st November.

Fundraising Platforms Discuss Online Transparency and Trust

Key discussion areas and next steps agreed at a summit about online giving held by the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator.

The Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator met with senior representatives from 14 of the major giving platforms in the UK last week, to discuss how to improve transparency around online giving and public trust.

A number of concerns have been raised in the media and by parliamentarians about online giving, including possible fraudulent activity, oversight over the end-use of funds, and transparency about fees charged by sites. Recent events including terrorist attacks in Manchester and London and the Grenfell Tower fire have heightened these concerns given the large amount of money raised for victims on these platforms in a short amount of time.

The Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator will report back to the Minister for Civil Society on the progress of discussions and their assessment of the adequacy of the current regulatory framework.

The following areas were discussed during the summit and a number of actions were agreed:

  • The role online giving platforms play and will increasingly play in the future in connecting people and communities who want to give and those in need is of huge value.
  • Platforms acknowledge a tension between the speed of public response to disasters and high profile humanitarian events and the pace with which charities can distribute funds raised to beneficiaries. Platforms stand ready to contribute their expertise to further work reviewing the government and civil society response to humanitarian crises in the UK.
  • Platforms which offer the opportunity for crowdfunding and person to person fundraising as well as donating direct to a charity feel confident that the advice they give to individuals setting up pages about the choices available to them and the consequences of those choices is clear. More can be done, working collaboratively, to ensure clear and consistent advice across different platforms and generally to the public. It is critical to avoid confusion about, for example, accountability to the Charity Commission, eligibility for Gift Aid, and what happens in the event of a failed appeal. Platforms agree to work with the Charity Commission and Fundraising Regulator to agree and disseminate clear and consistent public advice about the choices available for donating.
  • All the sites confirm that they have robust counter-fraud processes in place and committed to providing regulators and ministers with more detailed information. Using reputable sites which meet high standards and have good fraud prevention and detection measures in place gives the best assurance for the donating public. The Charity Commission and Fundraising Regulator will work with the platforms in reviewing their resilience to fraud and to create a new forum to share advice and intelligence about potential fraud threats.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

The Chink in A Charity’s Armour?

Everybody forgets about printers when it comes to data security says Alistair Millar, Altodigital Group Marketing Manager.

While data security has always been a major concern for charities, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is concentrating minds even further, not least because of the eye-watering fines threatened for non-compliance.

The urgency has been compounded by recent harsh words from the digital minister, Matthew Hancock. “Charities must do better to protect the sensitive data that they hold,” he said. “We have a long way to go until all our organisations are adopting best practice.”

For anyone who’s been living under a stone for the past few years, GDPR comes into effect on 25 May 2018, with the UK government planning to adopt the legislation as law too.

Although charities were singled out by the minister, they are not alone in their unprepared state. A government survey found one in ten FTSE 350 companies had no plan to handle a cyberattack.

However, because of the sensitive nature of the data held by charities, IT departments and managers are now more aware of the need to secure their network from those who want to steal or compromise their data. Yet, rarely does their concern reach that device that sits in the corner of many offices – the printer. Now, this benign-looking machine has been called “the largest potential security hole” there is.

Security breaches via the printer fall into two categories. The first and probably the most serious is the threat from cyber criminals. To prove how easy it would be to hack into a network via a printer, someone recently claimed to have successfully accessed more than 150,000 printers. To show what they had done, they sent documents to print alerting people that the printer had been compromised.

If this person had been a real criminal, they could have then spread ransomware to all other devices on the network or given the typical office printer also has a PC-style hard drive storing digital copies of every document it has ever scanned or printer, they could have got hold of the company’s most confidential documents.

Thankfully the answer here is quite simple; a straightforward firewall on the printer should bar all but the most advanced and determined attacker. You should also consider a device offering protocol settings with encryption implemented and configured to print fleet devices. Without this setting, hackers could quite easily take the document in transit from the computer to the printer.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

It’s Not the Law That’s Silencing Charities: It’s Their Own Lack of Imagination

When things fall silent, it takes a while to notice. Like the freezer that no longer hums after being accidentally unplugged, the silence creates a niggle that we often ignore, until there’s a mush of once-frozen peas and melted ice cream.

I had just such a niggle when I realised I hadn’t seen any inspiring charity campaigns for a while.

When I Whatsapped some veteran charity campaigners to ask what they thought, one said maybe campaigning had shifted to politics, in the form of Labour’s Momentum movement, or the Vote Leave campaign, leaving no space for charities. Another thought digital natives had taken over, building their own networks and connections, leaving little room from charity campaigns.
I railed against these answers. In a time of turbulent and volatile politics, the need for charities to build powerful alliances for change and reflect views not often heard in mainstream politics is bigger than ever. Charities have a special role to play bridging the gap between Westminster and everyday lives and injecting a healthy dose of reality into policy making.

Not content with the Whatsapp response, I continued my entirely unscientific research on Twitter. where the response was quick fire and enthusiastic and produced a list chosen by people whose business it is to campaign: the campaigners’ campaigns if you like.

There is a lot to be inspired by here, from campaigning for simple things that make a big difference to people’s lives, such as badges to wear on public transport if you have cancer, through to the audacious US campaign to save a local library that invited residents to book burning parties and saved the library with the power of reverse psychology. There are campaigns that raise issues rarely on the mainstream agenda, like Let us Learn, which highlights barriers facing young migrants who want to go to university. Or the brilliantly-named Pregnant then screwed campaign that allows mothers to share stories about pregnancy and discrimination, as well as providing support and advice.

Most of these are not charity campaigns. The campaigns the campaigners love are often run by small groups, are full of energy and humour, create online and real-world connections around a common experience and enable everyone to pitch in and make change happen.

It is understandable that charities have raised concerns about the clunky and frustrating Lobbying Act and its chilling effect on charity campaigns.

To read the full Guardian Voluntary Sector News article click here.

BLF Calls On Funders To Support More ‘Risky’ Projects

The Big Lottery Fund has told a House of Lords committee that funders, including itself, should be more open to funding “risky” projects.

The Big Lottery Fund, which is the largest community funder in the UK, made the recommendation in its submission to the Citizenship and Civic Engagement Committee. It said: “Funders, including the Big Lottery Fund, should be more open to funding ‘risky’ projects.”

It said that it has trialled a more “conversational approach” to grant giving, where it has a strong focus on “grassroots social innovations that address the root cause of pressing issues”.

Big Lottery Fund said that it has also taken a “test and learn approach to funding”, by “supporting a cluster of projects around themes, including ageing, dementia and food, to find projects and interventions that work well”. It mentioned its funding of projects such as Apps for Good, and said that “as a funding community, we must come together to support more projects like these”.

In the submission it said that it, as well as other funders, “should simplify funding application processes”. It said that too often funders “create barriers to innovative projects and hard to reach communities seeking funding” through complex processes.
It said: “At the fund we are moving our small grants online, reaching out to new communities (e.g. by running funding fairs targeting rural communities in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland and talking about the Fund in Urdu on local Manchester radio) and cutting processing times. But more needs to be done.” The submission also recommended that the sector “better engage with the opportunities and threats provided by the shift to digital”.

It said: “The ever increasingly role of digital in UK life presents both dramatic opportunities for change, and poses significant threats to individual and collective wellbeing. The digital revolution has allowed people to build new communities and convene existing ones with ease.”

The Lloyds Bank Foundation has said that foundations are well-placed to support small and local charities, who often work with the most at risk individuals and communities in society but are underfunded. It said: “Engaging people who feel ‘left behind’ has to start with understanding the challenges they face and support they need, and small and local charities are the gateway for enabling this to happen.

“Foundations are well placed to support and facilitate this, given the strong relationships they hold with charities across the country and the information they gather about needs and interventions.”

Civil Society Article click here.

How Can Charities Ensure They Make the Most of Their Online Presence?

Charities who aim to reach and engage with audiences online can now benefit from a new digital resource, which will actively support the creation of their user-centric and results-driven online presence.

Before proceeding with a detailed strategy that involves allocating time and financial resources to create an effective, customer-centric website design and build; it is necessary to have thorough understanding of a charity’s online users, combined with proper scoping.

User experience and digital agency DotLabel has just launched a free e-book that promises to do just that; empower decision makers with key insider information, previously unavailable, as well as actionable advice and top tips to consider when planning their new website.

Matt Oxley, DotLabel co-Founder and Director commented: “Information on how to get the most out of a website isn’t readily available. Budgeting for a website can often be educated guesswork, so this e-book aims to change that.

“We are very excited to be able to offer this handy resource which decision makers can consult and refer back to, when building or revamping their brand’s online presence. The aim is to use it as a guide, to help them raise key questions and highlight important aspects they need to consider. We have provided as much in-depth analysis as possible, of how each practical tip can lead to holistic online user experience; whilst saving money and time in the process.”

You can download the e-book here.

To read the full Digital Charity News click here.

Four Steps to Driving Social Change Through People

How can charities and social enterprises get the best out of their people to drive the change they’re seeking? Mark Norbury, Chief Executive of UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, shares knowledge borne from recent experience.

When I arrived at UnLtd just over a year ago, I found an organisation brimming full of talent. Any given team member was values-driven, emotionally intelligent, smart, productive and thoughtful. That has generally been my experience in the social sector, but the UnLtd team seemed a notch up.

This human factor is critical to the success of any organisation, but for one focused on developing outstanding leaders of social change like UnLtd, it’s an absolute necessity.

Despite this strong foundation, we didn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders collectively. And worse, we were losing our talented folk at a surprising rate.

So with great support from both Board and team, we set about figuring out how we could better unleash the talent in the organisation. We focused on four factors which I think are paramount to organisations seeking to drive long term social change through their people:

1.Make people the top priority
This is of course common sense. But is sometimes undermined by structural factors – in our case cyclical funding driving resourcing decisions, or organisational culture – for us an unwillingness to say no to potential opportunities.
So the first thing we did is listen to our people. We sought everyone’s views about UnLtd as a place to work. With a partner, we ran a comprehensive, anonymised staff survey. We had a fantastic response rate (91%). This gave us a robust mandate to make change happen based on the findings of the survey.

2. Distinguish between people development and HR
The second thing we did was to create a new Head of People and Organisational Development role reporting to me as Chief Exec. This new role was exclusively focused on culture, values, learning and development, and progression.

Together we developed a strategy to address the key issues emerging out of our survey. We presented it at our annual team gathering and got good buy-in.

It’s not just staff who need to commit to this – but our trustees too. Our Chair and Board were really supportive throughout. This included defining that there would be a Board Committee with responsibility for people matters (the Nominations, Remuneration and Governance Committee for us).

3. Establish a common purpose
Obvious as it may sound, having 70 purpose-driven people is not the same as having 70 people driven by a shared purpose.
For us, this meant translating our mission and broad strategic direction into a concrete business plan and a meaningful performance framework.

Perhaps the most important thing to clarify for us was what we were not going to do. I remember our managers showing me a list of 17 funding programmes and an activity map which must have had over 60 priorities. We focused down to three areas of focus and three streams of delivery. We agreed how we would consolidate, exit or handover activities that we were no longer pursuing.
Even so, since then we have had to constantly push ourselves to be clear on what is ‘in’, what is ‘out’ and why. It’s not always easy, and we do find ourselves tempted to add exciting opportunities, or broaden definitions. Sometimes that will be fine, and sometimes we’ll still say ‘no’. But now we have a way of having more robust discussions, making judgement calls and sticking to them.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Charities Need Help to Get to Grips with Data Protection Changes

A worrying number of UK charities are yet to take any steps to prepare for the new UK law on data protection.

Our survey of more than 300 UK charities shows that most are taking action to prepare for the new general data protection regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in May 2018, with major new requirements for how organisations process personal data. Steps already taken include training and recruiting staff; discussing data protection with their board; reviewing and updating privacy policies; and undertaking audits. This all shows that charities are taking seriously the need to reach the right standards for data protection.

However, and not surprisingly, some organisations are finding it a challenge to get ready for these new legal changes. A fifth of respondents – 22% – said they had not yet taken any steps to get ready for GDPR. The vast majority of those organisations are smaller charities, with a turnover of under £1m. But compliance and GDPR is not optional – so we need to ensure that everyone in the charity sector is ready.

The biggest challenge reported in our survey, cited by 72% of respondents, is a lack of clear guidance. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has not yet published its final guidance on consent, but the law is written and final and the commissioner has put out a range of resources for all organisations to think about the new law. There is also guidance from a range of organisations including ourselves, the Fundraising Regulator, and others.

At the same time, we also believe there is a need for government action. That’s why we’ve written to the digital minister, Matt Hancock, asking him to work with charities, regulators and sector bodies on a new strategic intervention to help the sector prepare for these changes.

As part of this, and based on the responses to our survey, we would like to see a targeted grant scheme set up to support charities who need to update their databases. We also want to see a coordinated campaign to raise awareness across the sector about the changes and guidance on offer. While the government already provides limited but very welcome support in building fundraising skills and capacity through the provision of subsidised training programmes, this should be complemented with an additional programme on data protection, and a hotline for charities with advice and information.

To read the full Guardian Voluntary Sector News article click here.

Masonic Charitable Foundation Community Support Grants

Registered charities in England and Wales can apply for funding to the Masonic Charitable Foundation’s Community Support Grants Scheme.

Funding is available for projects to tackle financial hardship; improve the lives of those affected by poor physical and/or mental health and wellbeing;  provide educational and employment opportunities for disadvantaged children and young people; and tackle social exclusion and disadvantage.

Charities can apply for large grants of £5,000 and above or for small grants of between £500 – £5,000.

Large Grant

Over £5,000 can be awarded to charities for a specific purpose only. Reasons to apply for a Large Grant can include funding salary costs, specific project costs and refurbishment costs. New build or large scale capital development projects cannot be considered. Funding may be granted for up to three years, where there is evidence of an on-going need for funding.

To check if your charity is able to apply and begin the application process, please click here to answer some eligibility questions.

The team will then review your submission at a fortnightly Grants Panel Meeting and get back to you via email to confirm if you have been selected to make a formal application for a Large Grant.

Please note that only one enquiry form can be submitted by a charity, for a single project. If the enquiry application is unsuccessful, subsequent enquiry forms may then be completed.

Small Grant

Between £500 and £5,000 can be awarded to charities for core expenditure such as general running or overhead costs of the charity. To check if your charity is able to apply and begin the application process, please click here to answer some eligibility questions.

The next closing date for applications to the small grants programme is the 27th October 2017. For large grants programme it is the 2nd February 2018. If applying for a Large Grant, applicants must first submit a Grant Enquiry Form at least two weeks prior to the large grant application deadline.

For further details on this fund click here.

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