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Video Is the Future of Learning for Charities

The voluntary sector needs to harness the power of video, which allows us to process information 60,000 times faster than text.

The Guardian’s new survey reveals half of UK charities don’t have a digital strategy and fear losing out on fundraising income if training and funding aren’t improved.

It may sound odd to suggest that video is the future when I’ve been watching television, VHS and then DVDs all my life. But what has changed is the technology and how it is delivered. YouTube has more than a billion users watching 3.25bn hours of online video content every month. Facebook has 8bn video views a day and Snapchat recently exceeded this with 10bn daily video views [£]. We live in a digital world that demands instant information and gratification. We should be looking to harness this digital power for learning in the voluntary sector.

The two most effective ways of taking in information are reading and watching a video – but our brains can absorb and process information 60,000 times faster by video than text.

The other way we learn is from other people. So having hundreds of videos of people sharing their own experiences, insights and wisdom in a video library is incredibly powerful. Learn it, like it, share it.

In terms of cost and efficiency savings, video offers unrivalled benefits for charities compared to both traditional models of training and even flexible learning. Video is one of the most compelling ways to convey complex messages quickly. It allows charity workers to dip in and out at their own pace – you can choose what you learn, whether that pertains solely to your areas of specialism or broader interests in the sector. It doesn’t take staff out of the workplace for days on end. You can watch it once, then repeat until it sticks.

The Guardian’s research shows that one fifth of charities have skills gaps, with little or no funding to support staff in filling them. But their research also shows that only an estimated 5% of charity workers engage with traditional in-house learning and development teams.

Their videos, which are unscripted, bite-sized chunks, enable staff and volunteers to share their knowledge directly with colleagues and address these gaps. They need more charities to get involved, be filmed by them and share their experiences and expertise with their peers – but also look at video learning as part of a wider skills strategy.

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

How to Develop a Social Media Strategy

Whether developing a social media strategy for the first time, or refreshing an existing plan, charities should consider a number of questions in order to achieve the best results.

1. What are my objectives?
This is the most obvious one, right? You’d be surprised how many social media strategies contain woolly objectives like “raising awareness for our cause” – we’ll take it as a given that you want people to know about your charity.

Instead, start with your organisational objectives, your team objectives and the objectives you’ve been set within your role, and use these as the basis for your social media strategy. For example:
• Create engaging storytelling content to show the difference your team makes to service users’ lives
• Dispel myths and misconceptions about the people you support
• Increase fundraising revenue, volunteer recruitment and event signups by x%

Whatever the strategy, you need to measure whether what you’re doing is working and adapt what you do accordingly. Focus less on likes, shares and reach and more on measuring actual results.
The clearer your goals, the easier it is to see whether you are actually achieving them.

2. Which channel is best for reaching my primary audience(s)?
If your target audience is men aged 65, there’s a pretty good chance Snapchat isn’t going to be the channel for you. The video below looks at some of the latest research on social media usage within the UK.

Understand the demographics of each channel and speak to your service users, supporters and volunteers to find out which channels they use most frequently.

Rather than obsessing about filling Twitter, Facebook and Instagram feeds every day, spend time engaging with your users and supporters in the places they frequent online.

If you’re a housing officer, for example, can you connect with tenants in your community’s local Facebook Group? If you provide health advice, how can you add value to a forum for people with a specific condition? If you need to connect with teachers, where do they go online? The opportunities are endless.

3. What content will my users find interesting and useful?
To get to the heart of what your users, supporters and key stakeholders need from you online, take some time as a team to develop marketing personas.

Personas are generalised representations of your ideal customers. What do they normally talk about? What are their challenges? What do they need from you? What are they searching for online? What sort of content will they find most appealing?

Every time you create a Facebook post, plan a new video or write a blog, think about these personas and question whether you’re meeting their needs.

To read the full article click here

Source: Zurich Municipal


What are reserves really for?

The failure of the charity Lifeline Project has renewed talk of whether charities need to keep more money aside. Kate Sayer, partner at Sayer Vincent, says that discussion on this subject often miss the point of reserves.

Whenever a charity fails, there are comments that the reserves were inadequate. Measures often relate the level of reserves to the income of the charity. But this is based on the false premise that reserve levels should be based on a formula, whereas the reserves policy should be based on the risks facing the charity.

We need to remember that reserves are unspent unrestricted income. Charity income is meant to be spent on the charity’s objects to benefit the charity’s beneficiaries. It is not intended that charities should hoard reserves for the charity to continue in perpetuity or to allow trustees to sleep better. In fact, there is a strong argument that high levels of reserves can lead to complacency and poor financial practices, such as allowing long credit terms to those who owe the charity money. Organisations that are short of cash are more likely to steward those funds carefully. That is not to say that charities should not hold reserves; charities should hold appropriate levels of reserves.

Risks that should not be managed by reserves

I often see charities using reserves to help them manage problems that have their root cause in the charity’s failure to manage some other aspect of risk.

If a charity must close, then it has not successfully managed its risks. While it has opportunities to improve the position, it should seek to do so. If the trustees see early warning signs of problems, then they should consider merger at an early stage, rather than hope that ‘something will turn up’. So this is not a signal to trustees that they should not consider financial sustainability – it is an existential risk that should be on every charity’s strategic risk register. But it should be framed in positive terms – ‘what can the charity do to improve financial sustainability?

From Civil Society Voices.    Read the full article


Email scammers turn their sights on youth football teams

Treasurers of community groups and small charities have been warned to be extremely wary after a youth football club was conned out of more than £28,000 by fraudsters using a fake email scam.

The Reading-based Laurel Park FC says it has had to suspend all planned spending, and the treasurer has resigned, after he was duped into making a series of payments to what he thought were companies undertaking work for the club. The scam started when he received what looked like a routine email from the chairman asking him to pay £7,000 to a supplier from the club’s Barclays account.

He had expected the request as the club, which operates 27 youth teams from playing fields on the edge of the town, was looking to spend money on its facilities. Only after he had made four payments – amounting to in excess of £28,000 into other Barclays accounts – did it emerge that the emails he’d received were false, and had come from a mocked-up lookalike account.
Barclays has washed its hands of the matter and refused to cover the losses, bar the £8.90 it says it was able to recover. The police have been similarly uninterested.

The club’s secretary says the episode has been devastating for those involved. He says the unnamed treasurer has even offered to sell his house to allow him to repay the club, although they are hoping they won’t have to take him up on the offer.

The case will send a shiver down the spine of anyone who acts as a treasurer for a club or charity. “We rely on volunteers to manage the day-to-day running, and our treasurer was just that – a volunteer doing his best”.

Read the full article from Guardian Voluntary Sector

Charities urged to do more to protect themselves against cyber crime

Organisations large and small – including charities – are being urged to protect themselves against cyber crime after new Government statistics found nearly half of all UK organisations suffered a cyber breach or attack in the past 12 months.

The Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2017 reveals nearly seven in ten large organisations identified a breach or attack, with the average cost to large organisations of all breaches over the period being £20,000 and in some cases reaching millions. The survey also shows organisations holding electronic personal data on customers were much more likely to suffer cyber breaches than those that do not (51% compared to 37%).

The most common breaches or attacks were via fraudulent emails – for example coaxing staff into revealing passwords or financial information, or opening dangerous attachments – followed by viruses and malware, such as people impersonating the organisation online and ransomware.

Organisations also identified these common breaches as their single most disruptive breach, and the majority of them could have been prevented using the Government-backed, industry supported Cyber Essentials scheme, a source of expert guidance showing how to protect against these threats.

These new statistics show organisations across the UK are being targeted by cyber criminals every day and the scale and size of the threat is growing, which risks damaging profits and customer confidence.

The Government has committed to investing £1.9bn to protect the nation from cyber attacks to help make the UK the safest place to live and do business online.
Business also has a role to play to protect customer data. The government offers free advice, online training and Cyber Essentials and Cyber Aware schemes.


Lobbying and the Election – what charities can and can’t do

With a general election now scheduled for 8 June, many charities will be wondering how they can engage with the public and politicians to raise awareness of their work and the issues that matter to them. Charities can play an important role during elections, helping to facilitate and inform public debates, and they should feel confident in doing this, as long as they heed relevant guidance.

Importantly, in this general election period, special guidance from the Charity Commission applies. It can be found here. While many charities say they have felt deterred from campaigning in recent years, this guidance is actually fairly enabling. It should not unduly hinder charities campaigning in a responsible and non-partisan way.

For example, five things that charities can do are:

Continue campaigning on issues
Reach out to the candidates and ask their views on issues
Publish candidates’ views on issues
Host a debate between candidates or invite them to issue-focussed events
Publish a manifesto or briefing materials on issues

From Read the full article

Instagram For Charities: How Can You Make The Most Of It?

More and more organisations are using Instagram to reach a wider audience. In 2013, a survey of 100 charities found that none of them had a presence on the popular image-sharing app. Since then, the number of charities using the platform has grown dramatically, and it has become a force to be reckoned with.

1) Why Should Your Charity Be on Instagram?
You need to be part of the conversation.

If your posts are topical, you have the potential to reach an extremely wide audience. Charities and nonprofits are often rich with compelling stories and imagery – Instagram is a great way to visually share and bring them to a new audience.
Reaching a wide audience.

Instagram is first and foremost a community-led platform – and the fastest growing one, too, with 600 million monthly users and counting. Instagram is a great platform to reach the next generation of supporters and donors – both millennials and Gen Z. In fact, 70% of all young millennials are on the platform.

Introduce yourself.
Instagram users tend to use the platform as a discovery tool – to find inspiration, engage with ideas, and find out new things. This provides a great opportunity for charities, especially as most of the content in people’s Instagram feeds is from people they don’t know, making it the perfect place to introduce your organisation or cause to a new audience.

2) What Content Should You Be Sharing?
Built for mobile.

Images that work best are compelling, consistent, and tell the viewer everything they need to know in one frame. It doesn’t have to cost the earth, either – Instagram is built for mobile, so images taken on a smartphone work well. It’s worth A/B testing different types of content to see what resonates with your audience.

Be recognisable.

Well-crafted images help drive engagement – it is essential to have your brand incorporated somehow in most images, whether its your product, a logo, a colour, or your name. This is important because people can ‘regram’ your image from their own accounts, which is fantastic in terms of reaching new audiences. However, you don’t want to lose any brand cache, so the image should have strong branding, if possible.

Keep it real.

According to Instagram, in 2016, being amusing is the top attribute millennials associate with content they like to follow (57%), followed by creative content (52%), beautiful content (48%) and inspiring content (43%). But remember – don’t force it! It’s also important to be authentic.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Free guide to GDPR and data protection for charities

A free guide to help charities understand General Data Protection Regulation and comply with data protection law has been published. GDPR is a new EU law governing data protection, which will supersede the Data Protection Act in 2018.  GDPR will not introduce widespread changes to existing law, but will increase the monetary penalties for non-compliance.

The new guide, “Fundraising and data protection: a survival guide for the uninitiated”, has been published by consultant Tim Turner, a former policy manager at the Information Commissioner’s Office, who has been highly critical of charities’ understanding of data protection, and of the Institute of Fundraising’s guidance and approach.

The guide is also critical of charities’ handling of newspaper criticism, and of some reaction to recent actions from the ICO, who are responsible for ensuring charities comply with data protection law.

The guide includes key points for fundraisers to be aware of – read the FULL article HERE.


Six Ways Charity Boards Can Make Their Workload Manageable

Is your board super busy? Top tips on sharing the burden: bring in specialist expertise, include more junior staff and work with service users.

People on voluntary sector boards have heavy workloads – so what’s the best way to share the burden? Sub-committees may not seem exciting, but, used properly, delegating tasks will help your board to be brilliant.

1. Let them delve into detail
Charity trustees often want to get involved in the nitty gritty. But in a busy board meeting, with a tight agenda, that can sometimes be a pain in the neck.

However, executives and trustees will still want to work together from time to time, to delve into detail. Sub-committees are the way to do this without taking precious time away from the primary board meeting. It’s a great way for charity staff to engage with trustees and vice versa, enabling trustees to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day issues affecting the charity while offering their own expertise.

2. Bring in specialists
If your board is proposing something new, controversial or risky, setting up a sub-committee is a clever way to use people who can bring in particular expertise but who, for whatever reason, do not want to or cannot be a full trustee.

Discussions of fundraising regulation have led to a mini governance crisis. It’s time to get trustees more involved with the day-to-day work of charities

It is also a good way to test whether people come up to scratch in terms of their style and expertise, giving you a bigger pool to choose from when recruiting for your main board.

You should also consider the “internal” outsider: someone already on your main board who is interested in a particular issue but is not an expert. They can be used as a sounding board (pun intended) and this is often a great way to test a proposal before presenting it to the rest of the board.

3. Don’t let sub-committees linger on pointlessly
It’s important to close any committee when it has run its course. For instance, you may set one up for a digital needs review and then close it when the review has been done. But committees can also evolve. Something that starts as a review of digital needs could turn into a committee that monitors the implementation of an organisational IT strategy, for instance.

To read the full Guardian article click here.

From: The Guardian – Voluntary Sector Network

Brilliant Boards: How to Create the Best Voluntary Sector Set of Trustees

With 2017 now in full swing, voluntary sector trustees up and down the country will be thinking about what their board could do better, and what they, as an individual trustee, can do differently.

Here are five resolutions to help make 2017’s board your best yet:

This may seems obvious. But we know that too many boards are merely rubber-stamping the decisions of their executives without suitable scrutiny and challenge.

The voluntary sector has witnessed the press rail against it in 2016 and high-profile cases have thrust to centre stage the fact that too many charities still have poor governance. As a trustee, challenging decisions is one of your primary roles.

Do a skills audit
Getting the right skills on your board is vital for good governance, to ensure the team can fulfil its primary commitment – to challenge.

Charities need to take risks as well as avoid them, so trustees and managers should draw up a policy to put these in context
Having the right brains around the table to navigate your charity through its challenges and opportunities over the coming year is critical and a skills audit will help you identify the gaps. When scoping the landscape, remind yourself of who is due to step down and when. You don’t want to end up without finance expertise because your forgot your treasurer was due to stand down in the next year. Essentially, you need to analyse the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to the skills on your board.

Evaluate your board
Trustees should not be afraid to evaluate each other and themselves to ensure their board is fit for purpose. It sets a powerful precedent when boards hold the mirror up to themselves to evaluate their effectiveness.

This means a top-to-tail review of the people, processes, papers, timetabling, committee use and executive involvement. And on an individual level this is also a good time to consider your own contribution to the board.

Are you just coasting? Perhaps it’s time for you to lend your skills elsewhere and allow your seat around the table to be filled by someone else who can contribute in a different way. Knowing when to step down from a board is critical to that board’s survival. Lame duck trustees are a nuisance.

To read the full article click here

Source: The Guardian

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