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Charity Commission Reform Vital for Civil Society Strategy to Work

The Government has just closed consultation on its plan to help create a stronger civil society in the UK. It’s an opportunity for the social and charitable sector to make demands of legislators while looking at itself and being honest about what it can do better for the causes, people and places it serves.

New Philanthropy Capital have made 21 recommendations on the civil society strategy across a wide range of topics, but there are a couple of key things the government could do to make a massive, positive impact on the sector.

First, reform the Charity Commission. It is an organisation full of dedicated people, but is straining under the weight of limited resources and an increasingly conflicted remit. It should be the regulator the sector needs, not its cheerleader. The sector should investigate whether the support it offers charities should be spun out into a new, independent organisation dedicated to sector-led improvement.

They also think what the commission regulates should change. It is too focused on financial stability and organisational survival at the expense of whether charities are having an impact for beneficiaries. They want to see a toughening up of annual impact reporting as part of the commission’s processes. Many charities already do this, but many don’t – if we can get them seriously thinking about their impact, the people they serve stand to benefit.

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

Source: Guardian Voluntary Sector Network


Five Ways Charities Need to Assess the Ethical Impact of Digital

Data, Digital and Technology (DDT) continues to rapidly transform the ways in which business, government and civil society operate. There is no doubt that it has brought many benefits –  it’s harder to get lost when you have a mobile device with access to Google Maps! But there has been increasing recognition that the consequences of applying DDT without proper review can lead to harm, entrenching or exacerbating existing societal biases.

This has led to an explosion of codes of conducts and principles on how to develop ethical tech products and services. Though this is a good sign that the tech industry has recognised the importance of ethics, this proliferation has created a bewildering landscape for charities wishing to understand the key considerations needed for digital ethics.

So how can you navigate the maze? Here are our five top tips, based on our work with the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) to help their members to discover which ethical principles are relevant to them and how to ask questions of tech partners to ensure they are on board.

1. Understand your environment

So we want to build an ethical digital product or service. How we get there requires us to understand the context in which we operate, so we can tailor our principles to that context. For example, for AMRC members, the context is data and digital health research, by charities and their partners, in the UK. It’s less catchy than just saying ‘digital health’ but it provides a useful frame to explore where other ethical work has been done and what might be different to this particular context. What is the context that you are working in?

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel

AMRC sought to assess what was out there already – rather than simply add to the ever expanding DDT ethics field. In the absence of a perfect fit to the specific context, we aimed to signpost to the most relevant high-level principles. This meant acknowledging what was distinctive, and also common about their context, identifying relevant principles, and connecting them to best practice and existing requirements. Can you use an existing framework?

3. Plan your route

With a clear understanding of our environment, we identified the relevant ethical principles for AMRC members through undertaking a review of literature, speaking with experts working in the field of ethics and AI and speaking with AMRC members who have the deep expertise in the fields they work with and quickly. The field of digital ethics is still evolving and we found people were willing to discuss and share their work. One key finding is that more guidance is needed to help all organisations really embed ethics into practice. Who should you involve?

To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News


Rebalancing the Relationships Between Large and Small Voluntary Organisations

NCVO are embarking on a new piece of work in partnership with ACEVO and Lloyds Bank Foundation to explore how the relationship between large and small voluntary organisations can be rebalanced, in order to deliver better services, strengthen communities and ensure equity of opportunity across the voluntary sector.

Although the project will consider the wider commissioning environment, it will focus on organisations themselves taking action and ownership over what they themselves can do.

Many providers and experts in public service design have called into question the effectiveness of competitive tendering processes and cost driven outsourcing. The National Audit Office has repeatedly raised concerns about the lack of evidence and risk management in decision making, the impact of cost-cutting contracts on patient safety, and the appropriateness of payment by results. Furthermore, public trust in outsourcing has been seriously damaged by high-profile failures of large providers – most recently including Carillion.

The commissioning environment presents challenges for voluntary organisations of all sizes, but evidence suggests that smaller organisations have a particularly tough time. Due to commissioning and bidding practices, as well as the move towards fewer larger contracts, larger voluntary organisations are more likely to receive government funding.

To read the full NCVO article click here.

Source: FSI and NCVO


Free Impact Measurement Guides Launch for Small Charities

The online set of guides and tools has been launched by sector bodies including New Philanthropy Capital and NCVO.

A National Lottery funded website run by sector organisations has launched to offer a suite of free guides to help small and medium sized charities measure the impact of their work.

The website combines a raft of resources available through the Inspiring Impact and Impact Management Programme, which merged last year and are run by sector groups including New Philanthropy Capital, NCVO and Social Value UK.

On offer are free how-to guides and self-assessment tools specifically designed to help small and medium sized charities evaluate their impact.

This includes research reports, outcomes frameworks and surveys, designed and complied together with around 200 charities and social enterprises.

Diagnostic Tool

Also included in the impact measurement resources is a data diagnostic tool, which is a five-minute questionnaire offering tailored recommendations about what data to collect.

Already more than 110,000 people have used these resources and the groups involved in their launch hope it will be even more accessible being consolidated into one place.

The Inspiring Impact programme launched in 2012 and is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, Access – The Foundation for Social Investment and the City Bridge Trust.

“Thanks to National Lottery players more community organisations and charities will be able to better plan, measure and improve their impact with Inspiring Impact’s new website and tools,” said Joe Ferns, UK Funding Director at The National Lottery Community Fund.

“By creating a culture in civil society of continuous improvement, with the help of peer learning networks and free online resources, more and more communities across the UK can thrive.”

Judith Rankin, development and delivery manager at sports charity Sported, which has already been supported by Inspiring Impact, said: “Inspiring Impact’s network, support and resources have massively helped to develop both Sported’s own impact practice and that of our members.

“Our staff team have benefitted from the opportunity for peer-learning with other Inspiring Impact Champions across the UK, and many of our member groups have utilised the Measuring Up assessment tool which provides an excellent framework to identify priority areas.

“We look forward to exploring the new website and resources to build upon our work developing the evidence base for the Sport for Development sector.”

Source: Charity Digital News


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

 

 


Larger Charities have Adopted Charity Governance Code

A study of the annual reports of 85 charities with income above £5m has found that just under half have adopted the Charity Governance Code.

The research, by accountancy firm RSM, found that 44 per cent of the charities stated in their reports that they had aligned themselves with the code, whereas 56 per cent made no mention of it.

RSM wanted to find out what the uptake of the new code had been in its first 18 months, so it examined the reports of 85 charities and scored each one according to whether they said they had applied the code, and then, whether they had adopted it or not, how the code’s seven principles played out in their governance disclosures.

The researchers deliberately excluded charities with income below £5m, reasoning that larger charities would be better placed to adopt the code because of the greater resources at their disposal.

Of all the charities studied, the largest ones (income of £20m +) scored highest, with an average score of 57.9 per cent.  The next highest scorers were the smaller ones, with £5-£10m income – they scored, on average, 44.6 per cent.  The middle group scored an average of 38 per cent.

Nick Sladden, head of charities and independent schools at RSM, said this showed that “reduced income is not a barrier to the demonstration of good governance”.

Medical research and health charities were best at applying the code, closely followed by overseas aid and development organisations and those working with animals and the environment.

The study also found that those that stated they had adopted the code also demonstrated higher adherence to the principles outlined within it, by an average score of 10 per cent.

“This is a key finding,” said Sladden. “The correlation between adopting the code and the demonstration of good governance practice is pretty clear and speaks to the usefulness of the code in applying overall good governance.”

In terms of the principles outlined in the code, charities were worst at achieving diversity. “The real howler for the sector was diversity,” said Sladden. “When we looked at disclosures around diversity, particularly around trustee recruitment processes, we found that to be generally very poor.”

To read the full Civil Society article click here.

Source: Civil Society


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


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