Governance

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Eaten by A Bear – The Art of Balancing Risk and Reward

As an organisation, how do you manage risk in your fundraising activities? Do you focus on financial or reputational risk, or both, or other things too? Do you keep going until you’ve eliminated every possible risk from your plans? If so, are your activities still worth doing by the end?

I recently popped along to the Arnolfini for the latest Bristol Fundraising Group talk about risk management in fundraising. The speaker was the excellent Ed Wyatt, an experienced Compliance Manager for multiple big charities and long-time fundraiser and trustee. Ed has kindly given us permission to share some key learning points here…

The Problem

Conversations about risk in fundraising can be frustrating and unproductive. It can feel like natural risk-takers and risk-averse people are speaking entirely alien languages, and often the loudest voice in the room wins.

This can have several consequences:
In their bid to find The Next Big Thing in fundraising, some organisations instead stumble into The Next Big Headache.
Being too risk-averse can dilute promising fundraising ideas until they’re perfectly safe but no longer appealing or profitable enough to be worth doing.

In trying to avoid risk, it’s easy to inadvertently take the biggest risk of all – stagnating in a tough fundraising climate, then hitting financial difficulties as your safer income streams dry up.

To read the full Lime Green Consulting blog click here.

Source: Lime Green Consulting


Charity Trustee IT Skills Dropping

Tech Trust’s 2019 annual whitepaper reveals the biggest charity sector tech trends – and how digital can help narrow the divide between the charities improving their impact and those in danger of being left behind.

Tech Trust’s annual whitepaper report has revealed that 40% of charities consider their trustees’ IT competence ‘below average’ – a significant increase from last year’s 29%.

The second annual cross-sector survey on digital also shows that there has been an increase in the number of charity trustees who rate their own skills with IT as ‘below average’ – 33%, up from just 20% last year.

Given the key role of charity leaders and trustees in enabling digital change in their charities, the report warns that a skills gap like this could put many charities behind.

Many charities are improving in lots of other ways, such as in their use of the cloud to drive efficiency and their ability to defend against cyber attacks.

But the divide is widening between the charities making the most of digital to drive their missions – and those who are at the other end of the spectrum whose ability to achieve impact faces uncertainty.

The whitepaper ‘The Charity Digital Spectrum: How all charities can go further with digital’ reveals these trends and many more and is packed full of practical takeaways and actions – it is free for charities to download.

Source: Charity Digital News


Free Digital Tool to Support Charity Commission Registration

A new tool is aimed at small charities who feel overwhelmed by the Charity Commission registration process.

A free digital tool has been launched to help small charities register with the Charity Commission.

The charitysetup tool has been developed by the Small Charities Coalition, the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST) and development agency Super Being Labs.

It has been created after research among small charities by the coalition found that many find the registration process difficult and feel overwhelmed with the technical information and jargon involved.

Currently 44% of the Small Charities Coalition’s support line queries are about setting up a charity with the regulator.

Angela Style, Interim Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition, said: “Our members tell us every day that the current guidelines, although thorough, are not always written with small charities in mind, especially charities who are time and cash strapped.

“By listening and responding to our members, we hope the first version of charitysetup will be just the beginning of what this new resource can offer.”

The tool aims to guide people through the registration process in a clear and conscie way and it is anticipated that around 1,500 charities that register could use it each year.

James Richards, Fuse Product Lead at CAST, said: “When we started working with the Small Charities Coalition it was clear that by focusing on insights from their members, we’d have the very best chance of discovering what small charities really needed. charitysetup is a significant step towards this.

“It will help define and test different approaches to providing the advice and support that people need as they consider their charity choices. We’re excited to see how small charities interact with the advice and support.”

Source: Charity Digital News


The Six Characteristics of Resilient Charities

Measuring resilience in charities is a challenge. In reality, whether a charity is resilient can be known only in the future, and only when a charity faces difficult or changing times.

But what does a resilient charity look like? Through CAF’s work with charities they have noticed six characteristics that show an organisation has the potential to be resilient.

PURPOSE

Understand what your purpose is, and just as importantly what it isn’t.

When funding is such a challenge and when public bodies are using charities to deliver their mission, you can easily find you are allowing external bodies to dictate your organisation’s direction. While funding is important, it’s vital that you have a clear mission and evaluate all opportunities against this.

CAF worked on this with one charity in particular, whose work felt very disjointed. They could tell them what they did, but not what they were trying to achieve. This is a situation you need to avoid.

In CAF’s experience, a theory of change workshop can be extremely valuable in galvanising an organisation’s focus on their resilience. It allows shared time for everyone to focus on the bigger picture.

AWARENESS

Awareness of the political, economic, local and national context you work in, regularly horizon scanning for challenges, threats and opportunities.

In many parts of the UK, the local voluntary sector landscape has changed significantly in the last decade. It’s important to spend time researching who else is out there. If your information is out of date it will impact your delivery.

An example of this is a charity that CAF worked with recently that supports young parents. The staff had understandably been too busy with vital delivery to spend time looking at who else is working in this space. However when they did, they quickly realised that many of the charities and projects they knew of had significantly shrunk, closed or widened their beneficiary group beyond young parent families.

This surprised the charity. They realised they are now the largest UK charity focused solely on this client group. They became aware of risks and opportunities they had not previously seen.

To read the full Third Sector article click here.


Check the Financial Information in Your Annual Return

The Charity Commission recently checked the accuracy of the annual return figures for 3 different sizes of charity, each sample having just over 100 organisations in them.

They found that:

  • 89% of charities with incomes over £25,000 reported accurate income and expenditure figures in their annual returns, compared with just over 60% for charities below the accounts filing threshold for most charities of £25,000
  • just over 80% of charities with incomes over £500,000 reported accurate income and/or expenditure analyses, compared with more than 95% for their balance sheet and charitable funds analyses

Input error (picking the wrong figures out of the accounts) appeared to be the most common reason for inaccurate annual return figures.

To avoid this happening make sure that a person who is familiar with the charity accounts checks the financial information you’ll submit in your annual return.

All the recent charity accounts monitoring reviews are available on their website.

Source: Charity Commission Newsletter


Safeguarding Duties for Trustees

Safeguarding is a key governance priority for all trustees, not just those working with groups traditionally considered at risk.

You should read the guidance about safeguarding duties for charity trustees.

We advise you to carry out a thorough review of your charity’s safeguarding governance and management arrangements and performance, if you haven’t done in the last 12 months.

It is also important that you contact us about any safeguarding issues, or serious safeguarding incidents, complaints or allegations which have not previously been reported to us.

Find more about what and how to report to the Charity Commission.

Source: Charity Commission Newsletter


The 5 Digital Skills To Look For In Your Next Trustee

A key maxim of the Charity Digital Code of Practice is that making the most of digital is not about tools and technical understanding anymore – it’s a governance mindset. Charity leaders need to be confident in how digital can help their charities achieve their goals if they want their organisations to be relevant and sustainable.

Charity Digital News grabbed Zoe Amar, non-profit digital guru and Chair of the Code, who explained the five digital skills that every charity’s trustees and boards should to be able to demonstrate.

1- An understanding of the changes that emerging technology brings

You’ve probably seen the headlines that one in five jobs could be disrupted by automation by 2030. It’s a startling figure and one that all kinds of organisations need to be prepared for, and understand what it will mean for traditional ways of operating.

“Trustees need a good understanding of how emerging technology could disrupt their charity’s business model,” says Amar. “We don’t quite know what this brave new world’s going to look like, but I think an optimistic scenario is that people are released from the burden of doing too much routine work and are actually able to focus on the aspects of the job they’re really passionate about.”

“So what does that mean about the sort of skills that you look for and train people for? Because what we also know about automation is that skills like lateral thinking and emotional intelligence are going to become absolutely paramount as that’s something that is going to be very hard for robots to do.”

2- Data-driven decision making

Handling and analysing data is a significant skills gap in a lot of organisations, according to the latest Charity Digital Skills Report, with 62% of charities rating themselves as fair to low in that area. Could charity trustees take the lead?

“I was talking to someone from a charity at a conference who had just developed a new website and their trustees had got absolutely fixated on one particular idea, assuming that beneficiaries will use the website in this way, but they didn’t have the data to back it up,” says Amar. “So the first thing a charity trustee must ask is the very simple question of ‘am I actually using data to make meaningful decisions?’”

“For example, when I say these things about how our stakeholders behave or what they want or need, can I point to the data which backs that up? Am I using data to stress test my assumptions about people? What’s it telling us and what’s it not telling us? That’s a sign that you’re really starting to think about the value of data to make decisions.”

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.


What do you think? Your views needed on new EU exit information website

Leaving the EU means a number of changes that will affect organisations and individual citizens. The Government has developed a website gov.uk/euexit to give information on how to prepare and the steps organisations and individuals may need to take.

We are really keen to get some initial feedback on the quality and user-friendliness of the content. Please record your feedback in this two minute survey, your views on the website will influence any improvements, so a swift response would be appreciated. Please feel free to skip any questions that you do not feel apply to your organisation.

We are keen to hear from civil society organisations and those that work with them to make sure that the information on the website information reflects your needs.

Thank you for your support.

If you have any questions, please contact Ruth Verrall (ruth.verrall@cabinetoffice.gov.uk) at the Cabinet Office.


Recognising and Reporting Serious Incidents – Free Workshop

The Association of Chairs in partnership with the Charity Commission are holding a half day free workshop on recognising and reporting serious incidents – what you need to know.

The workshop will be held on Thursday 14th February 2019, 1.30pm at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 6 Centenary Square, Birmingham, B1 2EP. Why not go along to test your knowledge about fraud and safeguarding and to learn how to recognise when an incident is serious and what you must do to report it.

The aim of the workshop is to provide an opportunity to hear about the way in which the Charity Commission views serious incidents and how they handle the reports which are made to them. This is about helping you understand the reasons for reporting a serious incident in your charity.

Whilst the circumstances of incidents vary in type and in the impact they have, Chairs and trustees can work to limit the likelihood of an incident happening and to minimise the impact on the charity when they do.

They will take a closer look at fraud and safeguarding as these are areas where serious incidents are most common.

Representatives of the Charity Commission will talk to us about their approach to these issues and lead group discussions on the issues.

To book your place or for more information click here.

See also: Reporting and avoiding serious incidents – blog post.

Source: Association of Chairs


Updated Guide to Claiming Gift Aid

HMRC have updated their guide to claiming Gift Aid. The guide aims to clearly show charities how to claim tax back on eligible donations, use the right software, complete the schedule, and fill in the form. The guide also features a brand new section about getting the right software to open a schedule spreadsheet.

View the updated guidance by clicking here.

Source: FSI


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