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Strategy as a Collective Responsibility

Strengthening your Organisation –  finance, risk and strategy these three areas are at the heart of good governance.

Again, and again, strategy came up as a big issue for many of the smaller charity Chairs. For example, 54% of Chairs on The Association of Chairs webinars said that strategy development was their key concern.

The Charity Governance Code makes it clear that the board has a collective responsibility ‘for ensuring the charity has a clear and relevant set of aims and an appropriate strategy for achieving them’ (p10.)

Chairs of smaller charities were asked to reflect on the nature of their board’s role in this process. Depending on an organisation’s size and structure, trustees need to strike the right balance in terms of their involvement in the strategy development process. An over-involved board can leave staff and / or operational volunteers feeling side-lined or undermined. An un-involved or too distant board will not be fulfilling its legal responsibilities and can leave staff and / or volunteers feeling unclear about the organisation’s priorities and direction of travel.

Common Issues Around Strategy Development

Discussions raised a number of common issues which Chairs said they were facing. Some referred to skills gaps within the team, others were based on writing the strategy itself. For example, in the webinars, the following concerns were raised:

•How do we get our trustees who are more comfortable focusing on operational matters, to focus on strategic issues?
•Our external environment is rapidly changing. How can we develop a strategy which will usefully drive our work?
•How can we recruit trustees with the right skills and knowledge to make strategic decisions?
•How are we going to know whether we are achieving our strategic objectives?
•Who should lead on the process? Me as Chair or the Chief Executive?

Do these concerns sound familiar to you?

Tips on Managing the Development Process

During the webinars, delegates shared tools and tips from their own experience of chairing an organisation through a period of strategic review.

Some delegates said that they had organised board meetings just looking at strategy, that trying to do it during a meeting with other business was distracting. Many reported that they had used an external facilitator to lead creative thinking sessions, away days or workshops. They said that it helped if the agenda for these sessions was carefully planned.

Some said that they had found strategic planning tools such as PEST analysis and Three Circles Analysis useful to help make sure the conversation was strategic not operational.

Some Chairs said that had set up separate working groups to do specific research or tasks and report back to the board. They said that working groups operated well when they drew on the knowledge and experience of individual trustees. Where gaps in knowledge and experience were identified, some Chairs had brought in outside expertise. NB If you are thinking of doing this, remember to check your constitution to make sure working groups can include non-trustees.

One said: “be clear about who you are going to involve in the process and how.” Check out Beacon’s strategic planning grid (available in our library of module 2 resources) to help with this.

Some Chairs mentioned that in order to monitor progress they had operationalised their strategic objectives. Having a simple red, amber, green traffic light system had helped trustees monitor performance effectively.

Tips on Creating a Strategy

Some of our Chairs stressed that it was important to recognise that strategy development is a dynamic process and that the strategy you produce should be flexible to deal with unexpected challenges and opportunities.

Others said that the strategy process had been used to remind the board of the charitable objectives and it had forced them to check whether the objectives were still fit for purpose. “Given the national political context within which we are working, do we need to broaden or reduce the parameters within which we are working?”

One highlighted the importance of seeing the process of developing the organisation’s strategy as an opportunity rather than a challenge.

Source: Association of Chairs

The Chair’s Role in Building a Positive Working Culture

How would you describe the working culture at your organisation? Does it enable people to contribute and thrive? Is it the same across the organisation from top to bottom and across different teams? Do the board and senior management team value the same behaviours and promote a consistent, constructive culture? Do you have policies and systems that allow you to deal with problems if they occur?

A negative culture can have a huge impact on the productivity and stability of the organisation. And on everyone’s wellbeing. Conversely, a productive culture that values curiosity and constructive challenge at every level means that people will feel safe and secure enough to speak their minds, challenge norms, be innovative and, if necessary, challenge behaviours.

Knowing your culture

The culture of an organisation is hard to define and even harder to change. It’s easier to feel than see. It is the sum of many different behaviours and attitudes. It’s “the way we do things around here”. But it’s also “the way we think around here.” This can be positive, or badly oppressive. The example set at the top is critical, especially by the board and by senior staff (if you have them). If your charity has a lot of staff or volunteers it can be particularly hard to be in touch with how it feels to be involved in your organisation.

To read the full Association of Chairs article click here.

Source: Association of Chairs

How Clubs Can Build Simple and Effective Risk Assessments

Risk assessments are the simplest and most effective way for organisations of all sizes to control and mitigate obvious dangers. However, too often they are treated as a box-ticking exercise.

Common misconceptions – for example, that risk assessments are a time-consuming chore, or that they only need to be completed once a year – can limit their effectiveness. In this article, we consider the key elements of building a risk assessment.

What are risk assessments for and what should they cover?

Risk assessments are a simple way of identifying potential hazards that could put individuals and property at risk. There is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all approach – they should be tailored to what your club does and the particular risks you could face.

However, every risk assessment should:
•Identify potential hazards
•Identify who or what could be most at risk from these hazards
•List measures being taken to address hazards and identify any additional action needed
•Allocate responsibility for risk improvement actions, with clear timescales

You should also review your risk assessment processes following any serious incident, such as a fire, flood or safeguarding incident.

How detailed should risk assessments be?

A risk assessment does not always have to be a lengthy document. The important thing is to have a straightforward system to identify and prioritise risks, and to record any actions taken to mitigate them.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provides a number of useful resources and tools that can help clubs develop robust risk assessments.

Who should carry out risk assessments?

You should appoint a ‘competent person’ to oversee the process. A competent person is defined by the HSE as “someone with the necessary skills, knowledge and experience to manage health and safety.”

This does not necessarily mean somebody who has undergone specialist training or received any formal qualifications in health and safety. The important thing is that whoever you entrust to carry out your risk assessments is aware of best practice and can commit to overseeing the process.

How should risk assessments be recorded?

A logbook is a simple way to keep a record of your risk assessments and any actions taken to mitigate risks.

Logbooks should include space to record the dates and times of assessments or training, and brief details of what was covered. If any potential hazards are identified, it is important to note any action taken to reduce or eliminate the risk.

Keeping it simple

Building a risk assessment does not have to be a complicated or time-consuming process.

You can create specific risk assessments that identify and address the hazards particular to your club. By regularly reviewing these documents as your circumstances change, you could go a long way to mitigating some of the biggest risks your club could face.

The HSE provides a straightforward risk assessment template that you can tailor to your club’s particular needs.

Source: Zurich Municipal

Company Secretary required at The GAP Centre

The GAP Christian Family Centre is a friendly community centre in Hargate Lane, West Bromwich, from which many services are run.  The Centre is seeking to recruit a Company Secretary.

This is primarily an administrative role. You will organise the agenda for Directors’ meetings, take minutes and ensure all relevant compliance information is accurately maintained, and action points followed up. One of your main tasks will be to support the Chair, as you make sure the Board of Directors conducts itself professionally and effectively and provide sound governance of the Charity.

To see the person spec and a comprehensive list of the main responsibilities, click here. Interested? Please email Les Trumpeter on

This is a voluntary position with expenses paid, where required.

Free GDPR Guidance Gets an Update

The Institute of Fundraising has updated its free guidance around General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation.

The updated version of GDPR: The Essentials for Fundraising Organisations, includes the latest tips and advice since the guide was first published in May 2017 (a year before the EU data protection law went live).

Included in the updated version is information on minimising data protection risks as well as advice on appointing a data protection officer.

Top Tips

According to IoF Policy and Information Officer Sam Boyle it also includes “all new top tips on how to assess whether you have a legitimate interest in carrying out direct marketing under GDPR.”

Boyle said: “First of all, don’t worry, this is not a fundamental rewrite! The basics are still the same – this update is about tweaking, including latest thinking, and providing some more tips and advice.”

“No piece of guidance will be able to answer every single question that fundraisers might have, but we hope that it is the best ‘starting point’ for helping your charity get things right and a jumping off point to dive into areas in more depth.”

The IoF is anticipating that a further refresh will be required at a later date to ensure it remains relevant as new data protection issues, such as e-privacy, emerge.

Source: Charity Digital News

Free Guide to Encourage Charity Innovation

Non-profit sector tech experts have come together to offer advice to charities in a guide on how best to use technology and digital to drive innovation.

The Innovation Guide has been made available online by CharityComms, which represents charity communiations specialists, and includes sections on new fundraising tools and practices as well as the role of digital and technology in innovation.

An ‘It’s so shiny! The role of digital and tech in innovation’ section features practical advice from, among others, Rob Leyland, Innovation Manager at Cancer Research UK.

He explains the importance of using existing technology to experiment with new ideas.

An example he gives is work by Cancer Research UK to test the potential popularity of voice enabled devices to keep donors updated about the work of the charity.

For this the charity utlisied its existing news app on Amazon Alexa and online donation conformation webpage to test if people were interested.

“As it happened, less than 1% of the page traffic took up the offer to get our voice skill — so we knew that, for the moment at least, it was pretty much a non-starter,” says Leyland.

Also contributing is Si Muddell, digital engagement strategy director at Scope. He explains how digital has driven innovation in the charity sector over the last decade from “both a technological persepective and marketing perspective”.

He adds: “Developing products is substantially easier, quicker, and less expensive to do. There are so many tools for creating prototypes. Likewise, reaching audiences for feedback and smoke testing potential products is becoming amazingly simple and cost effective.

“Plus, everything we do digitally can be tracked giving us data insights to feed into product development.”

To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News

Free Guide to Improve Trustee Recruitment

A free guide has been made available online to help charities effectively recruit trustees.

Community leadership charity Getting on Board has made the guide available to download via its website to provide a practical toolkit to running effective and open trustee recruitment drives.

According to Getting on Board, 90% of charities say they recruit trustees by word of mouth.

A more open recruitment system would help ensure charities choose from the best candidates and improve diversity, says Getting on Board. It cites latest research that shows men outnumber women 2:1 on trustee boards, the average trustee is 57-years-old and only 41% of trustee boards represent the communities their charities work in.

Getting on Board has piloted the guide among charities looking for new trustees. Those that took part say that their strengthened boards feel more confident in meeting organisational challenges and 65% said their boards are more diverse.

“By giving charities the tools they need to effectively recruit and support trustees, we hope to create a system where charities are robust, and charity boards are best equipped to face the challenges of today and the future,” said Getting on Board Chief Executive Officer Penny Wilson.

“This guidance is part of our commitment to provide those tools, and to share our learning as widely as we are able.”

Assessing skills gaps

Issues covered in the guide include assessing skills gaps in trustee boards, effective advertisement and developing meaningful inductions for a new trustee. The guide also includes checklists and mapping skills guides for those looking to diversify or grow their trustee board.

Getting on Board said the guide is likely to be particularly useful to smaller charities looking to conduct an open trustee recruitment drive for the first time.

Source: Charity Digital News



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

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