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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


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.


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.


Charities Welcome Call for Digital Wills System

Government body looking at reducing tax complexity is calling for the creation of a digital system to better manage inheritance tax and will making.

The government should create a digital system for inheritance tax and will management, according to the Treasury office tasked with reducing complexities in the tax system.

The Office of Tax Simplification’s first report from its review of inheritance tax says that the management of wills would be made easier with a “fully integrated digital system for inheritance tax” put in place.

This should “ideally include the ability to complete and submit a probate application” adds the report, which adds that “regulating the will writing market would help improve the administration process”.

Remember a Charity, a partnership of around 200 charities, has welcomed the report and backed its calls to make the management of estates and legacy donations easier.

“Ultimately, a more straight-forward inheritance tax system should make it easier for people’s estates to be handled promptly, efficiently and for relevant discounts or exemptions on charitable wills to be applied,” said Remember a Charity director Rob Cope.

“We welcome steps to reduce the administrative burden for everyone; the public, professional advisers and executors, which of course includes many charities too.

Need for clear and consistent processes

He added: “The need for clear and consistent processes has never been greater. The public needs to have choice about who and what they support from their will and the confidence to ensure that their final wishes will indeed be met.”

“With both the national Inheritance Tax structure and will-writing framework currently under review, the devil will be in the detail of future announcements as to whether the fiscal incentives will be maintained and how will-writing processes may evolve. We continue to appeal to government representatives to ensure that any changes will continue to encourage and promote charitable legacies.”

According to Remember A Charity legacy gifts contribute the largest single source of voluntary income to the charity sector, generating around £3bn for good causes each year.

Source: Charity Digital News


Charity Commission Issues Alert over Christmas Gift Card Fraud

The Charity Commission has warned charities to be vigilant for people claiming to be chief executives who ask for gift cards to be bought as Christmas presents for staff.

The alert is based on reports made to Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre. It warns that charity staff are being approached by fraudsters who impersonate their chief executive or another senior member of staff and ask for the gift cards to be bought.

The fraudsters then ask for copies of the cards and the codes that will enable them to be used. The Commission warned that contact is usually made by email from a spoofed or similar email address.

The regulator has urged charities to make sure they have processes to corroborate requests requiring payments, to challenge anything that seems suspicious and to shred confidential documents.

Victims of fraud should report their experience to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Charities should also filed a serious incident report using the email address rsi@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk

Source: Civil Society


Recognising and Reporting Serious Incidents – What You Need to Know

Recognising and Reporting Serious Incidents – What You Need to Know. This joint event with the Charity Commission is being held on Thursday 14th February 2019, from 1.30pm – 6:00 pm Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 6 Centenary Square, Birmingham, B1 2EP.

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. We 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.

Timings for the event are:

  • 1.30 pm- Registration and refreshments
  • 2:00 pm – Start
  • 5:00 pm – Drinks reception and networking
  • 6:00 pm – Close

This event is open to Chairs and Vice Chairs although priority for places is given to our members. It is a free event.

Why not become a member of The Association of Chairs and get early priority booking as well as additional membership benefits such as copies of their guides? You can join if you are a Chair or Vice Chair of a charity or non-profit organisation (see full eligibility criteria). It costs just £50 for those from organisations with incomes under £5 million and £100 if your organisation’s income is over £5 million.

For more information or to book your place click here.

Source: Association of Chairs


Digital Resources for Charities

Want to give your charity a digital makeover in 2019, skill up your staff or start a new digital-based project? The internet is a gold mine of charity-specific information, digital guidance, digital training for charities, digital volunteers and expertise to draw on, if you know where to look.

Charity Digital News has gathered the best free and low-cost digital resources for charities to boost their digital know-how and connect with others in the digital space.

1 – The Charity Digital Code of Practice

Number one on our list, the Charity Digital Code of Practice draws from the collaborative expertise of a large number of organisations including Tech Trust, ACEVO, CAST, the NCVO and the Charity Commission.

If you haven’t taken some time out to digest this resource yet, we recommend making this your end-of-2018 resolution. It should be on the required reading list for all charity trustees, CEOs and anyone with an interest in being successful with digital.

2 – CAST – Digital design principles

Most effective when read in conjunction with the Code, The Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology (CAST)’s Digital Design Principles includes guidance and case studies for charities to design better digital services.

3 – Small Charities Coalition

The Small Charities Coalition  catalogues a range of useful resources on its website from tools, templates and guides to services and commercial partners, on a wide number of topics aimed at helping charities increase their impact.

The Coalition also hosts webinars and training events, some of which focus on digital topics such as digital media, regulation and online fundraising.

4 – Skills Platform

Skills Platform links charities up with training providers and offers e-learning bundles on a range of charity-specific topics such as health and care, but also workplace development such as data governance and project management, all designed to be affordable for charities.

It also produces some useful free resources such as the Charity Digital Toolkit and toolkits for social media.

5 – Charity IT Association

The Charity IT Association (CITA) is a specialist IT consultancy for charities (and a registered charity itself) that provides advice and recommendations on a volunteer basis, whether about your current IT set-up or a project you want to deliver.

6 – NCVO, Knowhow Nonprofit

We recommend NCVO’s Knowhow Nonprofit website for how-to guides and e-learning on a wide range of governance and funding topics, including risk management and measuring your digital skills. Its free benchmarking and analysis tools are also worth a look.

Register as a NCVO member to access the more in-depth members-only free training.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.


How to Increase Trustee Engagement

Your board ultimately make all the key decisions, but every board is a collection of individuals, with differing motivations, abilities and time they can give. Moreover, they may not be around very often and, if you don’t attend meetings, you may see them rarely. This resource from the free Charity Excellence Framework provides a range of ways in which you can increase their engagement.

Start at the beginning – recruiting
Some trustees see their role as turning up to 4 meetings a year, but good trustees do a lot more than that, so ensure you recruit good ones. Recruiting is a challenge, so here’s an article on how to do it well, with links to resources and organisations who will help you.

Make expectations clear in your adverts and during the recruitment process. That’s not about being demanding, but being open and honest with people about what you’re asking them to do. When interviewing, always ask how he/she feels they could best contribute, so you can make sure that how you engage with them, works for them and you.

Then build on that – induction
Include in your induction form/notes, space to complete details of their networks and also how to join your social media platforms.

Most will meet the CEO, but they should also be introduced to the wider team to build a relationship from the outset. If they bring expertise in a particular area, such as finance or marketing, ensure they meet that specific team.

And, that they receive your events/activities diary, so they can come along, if they wish to.

To read the full Linkedin article click here.


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