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A Five Step Plan to Reduce Charity Fraud

Fraud is on the rise and it’s estimated by the Annual Fraud Indicator 2017 to cost the UK economy £190bn per year. Charities are far from immune. Recent cases have highlighted the vulnerability of the sector. Jonathan Orchard, Partner at Sayer Vincent, has put together a five step plan to help your charity avoid the financial and reputational damage that fraud can wreak.

Accept that fraud exists
Organisations are estimated to be losing between 3 to 8 per cent of their income due to fraud – income that won’t get through to beneficiaries. Additionally, the impact of fraud on a charity’s work, beneficiaries and reputation can be hugely damaging, so the first step towards reducing fraud is to accept it exists.

Understand your own vulnerabilities
Charities need to think like fraudsters and really scrutinise their organisation’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities. There are common areas for fraud such as payroll and expenses, payment and procurement processes, fundraising and of course cyber risks –which must all be considered.

Given the scale of cyber risks, we advise that charities should consider what information they are putting in the public domain and how that information could be used in the wrong hands. For example, publishing important contact details such as finance personnel or the names of key suppliers or senior managers on their website. Having access to these contacts makes it easier for fraudsters to engage in phishing.

Build awareness and the right culture
Fraud risks should be openly discussed internally with trustees, staff and volunteers. There needs to be clear policies around fraud, bribery and corruption that everyone understands. To develop the right culture, employees need to understand what fraud and theft means to the charity, the responsibilities of staff in managing fraud, details of any whistle blowing plan or policy and crucially, how the charity will react to fraud.

To read the full Directory of Social Change article click here.

Source: Directory of Social Change

Solving the Top 5 Challenges of Onboarding and Motivating the Volunteer Workforce

Volunteers are the lifeblood of many UK charities and not-for-profits. According to the Community Life Survey, volunteers donate over 2 billion hours of their time each year – equivalent to 1.25 full-time employees.

However, research suggests that volunteer engagement is harder to build, and loyalty harder to retain. That presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to find new and better ways to onboard and engage your volunteers – the opportunity is to break down the barriers that are getting in the way so your whole organisation can be more effective.

1. Paperwork

For most not-for-profits, taking on volunteers has more than its fair share of associated – and often essential – paperwork. It’s critical that this doesn’t bog down either yourselves or your volunteers. Everyone hates being asked to provide the same information in triplicate, or wasting hours chasing down missing forms – or turning up on the first day to be told you can’t actually do anything because an essential check has not been completed.

Mapping out your new joiner process can help minimise the risk. What information do you need to collect for each volunteer, how do you get it and who needs to be involved? Once you’ve got to grips with the process, finding onboarding tools that can help you streamline the collection of the relevant documents and data are worth their weight in gold.

To read the full Charity Today news story click here.

Source: Charity Today

Tips for Increasing Donations on a Mobile

Think about the last charity website you looked at or even the one you’re looking at now – chances are, you were looking at it through the screen of a mobile device.

Mobile now accounts for accounts for over half of web traffic worldwide. So it’s surprising that many charities still aren’t thinking about their online fundraising with mobile users in mind. Recent analysis from non-profit digital agency Reason Digital found that charities could be missing out on billions each year simply because potential donors were frustrated or put off by the experience of a charity’s website on mobile.

As Matt Haworth, co-founder of Reason Digital said: “These users represent a vast and potentially untapped audience for many charities. It’s therefore vital for charities to not just attract new users, but keep them on the website and encourage them to find out more through a properly optimised design and carefully considered user journey.”

The good news is that designing a mobile-friendly donation journey is easily within the reach of most charities. While these tips are not comprehensive, they could be a good starting point to improving the way your charity fundraises through mobile.

1-Use empathy when considering your user experience

Nowadays, just having a website that is ’mobile-responsive’ (automatically adapts its layout to all mobile devices) is not really enough anymore. Google has been favouring mobile-friendly websites since 2015 when it updated its ranking algorithm, and most website builders nowadays will be making sites mobile responsive as standard. But having this feature doesn’t automatically make for a great experience for donors.

To get the most from your fundraising efforts, you still need to work on removing as many barriers as you can for people to give to your charity via mobile. You really need to assess your website from the point of view of someone scrolling on their mobile and ask:

  • Is our message clear?
  • Is information clear and concise?
  • Is it obvious what to click next?
  • Is the donate button easy to find (always available or one click away)?
  • Could I make this any easier for them?
  • Is it a pleasant experience?
  • Is there enough interesting content?

A decision whether to stay on a website and find out more often happens in a split second and on an emotional level. Sometimes the simplest changes can mean the difference between a user being compelled to keep engaging with your charity or getting bored and clicking off to any number of other distractions.

To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News

How to Create Effective Charity Hashtags

Looking to leverage your supporterbase via social media? Here’s our five-step guide to creating effective charity hashtags.

Have you admired recent charity digital campaigns? Dreaming of going viral but unsure how? Charity digital leaders may have read our earlier tips on how to leverage social media, and how platforms can add to the fundraising toolbox. Creating hashtags on social media allows for audiences to contact charities regardless of location or size.

Adding to the power of hashtags, these digital portals can also work as a call to action. Charity digital marketing and communications teams have created memorable hashtags across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, targeting audiences for charity fundraisers, new product launches, announcements, and brand awareness.

Additive to every charity digital leader’s toolkit, here is a quick DIY guide to creating an effective charity hashtag.

1.Decide how you want your hashtag to work

Hashtags can, and should, form part of the charity social media strategy. When deciding how you want the hashtag to work, marketing and communications goals may be helpful.  Social Media Today advocates deciding on what value can be derived from the hashtag:
•Is there a specific event happening?
•Is this a digital fundraising appeal?
•Or, maybe the aim is to create a buzz?

Once decided, brainstorming a catchy, memorable phrase is important to motivate audiences. Simple ones tend to work very well – #GivingTuesday is a prime example of how worldwide charitable events can come together.

To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News

5 Tips to Improve Your Charity’s Email Marketing Strategy

Is it your charity’s new year’s resolution to improve its email marketing campaigns? Here are five things you can do to get ahead now and start improving the click-through rates and engagement of your emails.

New digital channels like social media and virtual assistants might be stealing the headlines, but email remains king when it comes to charity marketing. Studies from Mailchimp and Campaign Monitor put email open rates for charity emails at around 20-25% compared to a universal open rate of 6%, proving that good causes still make a big impression in people’s inboxes.

However, there are always things you can do to further improve the performance of your emails and build stronger relationships with your valued supporters.

Here are five strategically-driven ways to give your charity’s email campaigns a boost in 2020.

1. Have clearly-defined goals

First and foremost, it’s important to have a solid strategy for each email campaign you send. This means setting out in as much detail as possible:

What you ultimately want to achieve

How your emails fit into the bigger picture of your other brand campaigns

Who your target audience is

How you will measure success

This guide to email marketing strategy from email marketing platform Uplers gives a good grounding in how to set out your strategy, and particularly your objectives and key results, so you’ll always know what you’re working towards and stay focused.

To read the full Charity Digital News Article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News

Four of the Best Charities Leading the Push for Digital Transformation

Charities with digital transformation on their list of New Year’s resolutions need look no further. Through efficiencies gained from digital fundraising, operational speed, and time-saving processes, digital transformation can give charities of all sizes a make-over in both online and in offices. Here we showcase four of the most inspirational transformations.

Parkinson’s UK data-led approach to digital strategy
In 2017, the UK charity focused on determining internal digital maturity levels and developing a digital strategy.

“We now talk an awful lot about our data maturity as an organisation and about making sure that our 400 staff know how to use information to make better decisions,” said Ms Dodd, Director of Digital Transformation and Communication, when speaking to Computer Weekly magazine.

“That stretches from our strategic priorities right down to a project-level basis, where our people use information to make better decisions.”

Since then, one of the major challenges Ms Dodd has worked on is to link up data sources across the organisation. A cloud-based solution was found using Snowflake to centralise data.  For the inside scoop on the journey, Charity Digital News interviewed Carolyn Nutkins, Director of Organisational Development at Parkinson’s UK – the video can be found here.

Cancer Research UK’s journey is about digital cultural change
Two years on from the first conversations and implementation of the charity’s digital transformation, leadership and skills have come to the fore. Writing for CRUK’s blog, Ellie Budd, Digital Proposition Manager noticed how the charity’s entire operating model had shifted from demanding services to testing new, innovative digital ideas.

“For us, it’s a little about the technology, but a lot more about the skills teams have. We learnt very quickly those skills needed to be different for every team. Some would need to set up complex A/B tests, some needed to write user stories in BDD format, and some had to optimize their content for search,” said Ms Budd.

For CRUK, digital transformation and experimentation came with not only a shift in digital culture but buy-in from digital leaders throughout the organisation.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News

6 Steps to Prepare for Your Next Financial Audit

Audits can be a stressful time for any organisation. Even if your records are completely blemish-free, the experience can still be taxing. This is heightened if you’re a charitable non-profit and your future funding depends on it…

So, how can you prepare for your next financial audit and what should you expect from it?

What is a financial audit?

An external financial audit is carried out by an auditor/certified public accountant (CPA) not employed by the organisation they are auditing. The audit itself is an examination of an organisation’s financial accounts, records, transactions, accounting practices and controls.

The auditor carries out this examination to check whether the financial statements prepared by the organisation meet the ‘Generally Accepted Accounting Practices’ in the UK (UK GAAP). These accounting principles are statutory as defined by the UK Taxes Acts.

Does your non-profit need an audit?

It is not always necessary for charitable non-profits to carry out an audit. In some cases, an independent examination may be acceptable instead. However, situations where an external audit might be required are:

If your organisation’s gross income exceeds £1,000,000
If your organisation’s gross income exceeds £250,000 and its gross assets exceed £3,260,000
If the charity commission requires an audit
If your charity’s governing document requires an audit
If trustees wish to have financial statements audited
If a funder asks to see your audited financial statements
In certain cases where a non-profit is not legally required to conduct an audit, they may choose to do so anyway. One of the main reasons for this is demonstrating a commitment to financial transparency. Furthermore, funding – in many instances – is dependent on conducting audits, as are ratings by charity watchdogs.

Preparing for your financial audit and what to expect

1. Define who will have responsibility for the process

One of the first tasks is to define exactly who will carry the responsibility for the audit process. The trustees of a non-profit have responsibility for the oversight of the conduct related to any external auditor hired. They also have the power to delegate this responsibility to an audit committee if they so choose. Nonetheless, those designated responsible must be familiar with the scope of the end-to-end process and be a member of one of the accepted professional bodies in the UK.

To read the full Charity Financials article click here.

Source: Charity Financials

The Best Cyber Security Tools for Charities

Charity Digital News has taken a look at some of the best cyber security tools available to charities – from general security to password management and measures against phishing.

Charities offer the potential of rich pickings for hackers and cyber criminals for several reasons. They often store large amounts of valuable data about supporters, they may control significant amounts of money raised from those supporters, and 44% of charities don’t protect themselves with the right cyber security tools since they don’t believe they are at risk.  That may explain why 22% of UK charities faced cyber attacks last year.

Risk management

It’s also true that many charities have a limited number of IT staff, and those staff may have a small cyber security budget compared to large businesses. That means it is essential for charity leaders to deploy that budget as effectively as possible to minimising the risk of cyber security breaches by mitigating the most common vulnerabilities.

Phishing, malware and ransomware

For many charities, the most likely form of cyber attack that they will encounter is a phishing attack, which involves criminals sending out fraudulent emails. 81% of charities reported receiving phishing emails last year. These emails often contain links to websites that imitate the websites of banks and other financial institutions to enable criminals to steal login names and passwords.

They may also include attachments that are infected with viruses and other malware such as keyloggers, which steal user names and passwords from an infected computer, and ransomware, which can spread around a charity’s network and encrypt the data on all the computers it encounters. The cyber criminals then demand a ransom, usually payable in cryptocurrency, to restore the systems to working order.

Date exfiltration

Criminals may also exploit vulnerabilities in software used by charities to gain entry to the charity’s computer network. Once they have infiltrated the network they will typically search for databases and stores of valuable information and exfiltrate any useful information that they find to exploit or sell to others in the criminal underworld.

To read the full Charity Digital News article click here.

Source: Charity Digital News

4 Ways Charities Can Get More Social Engagement

Four ways in which charities can improve their social engagement, and build a better, content-led social strategy.

Simply being on social media is not enough – silent, observer, accounts with many followers are losing out to charities with voice, impact, and social engagement. Leveraging Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and charity websites, social media managers can get more from social media. For charities on a budget, many of the techniques can be implemented free of charge.

1.) Keep the content coming

Social media engagement is about so much more than the number of followers or likes. Charities looking to do more with their social media accounts should consider how to disrupt mindless scrolling. Crafting regular, quality, engaging content is important. JustGiving suggests using explicit interactive content, which directly asks viewers to engage. For charities, explicit content can be used to:

  • Probe audience personalities and preferences
  • Post a ‘test your knowledge’ Q&A on charitable impact
  • Play a quiz
  • Built in polls from Instagram Stories can also help grab attention, gather feedback, and drive audiences to charity sites.

When fundraising, content is equally if not more important. Using digital tools to enhance the experience of giving is key. Social media platforms have encouraged the use of fundraising tools – Twitter uses the #Donate system by the Good Agency, allowing donors to give directly to charities. Using the #Donate system allows charities to tap into Twitters 15 million UK users.

2.) Curate your content

Curating and producing creative content can help build a relationship with your audience. While charities do want to fundraise, sharing news and brand recognition rank as even higher priorities when planning charitable social media efforts.

Content should generally be mixed – videos, photos, and explicit content can help shape a charity’s social media wall. Cancer Research UK used a social media wall during its #adaytounite campaign, to showcase the nation’s efforts. Miappi, the ad agency also engaged digital billboard advertising to help fundraise – the campaign reached close to £2 million in donations for CRUK and partners.

In general, charity social media marketers can build engagement by following the 70/20/10 rule. DonorBox, a digital donation tool provider, recommends that 70% of content should be news or impact related produced by charities; 20% should be shared content from audiences; while the remaining 10% should be promotional or ask-based content.

3.) Respond to your audience

Once a post has been produced and posted, charity social media managers need to take care to genuinely respond to audiences. SproutSocial, an online social media manager, suggests that social engagement is about interactions, relationships, and engagement over time. In particular, charities can provide a ‘customer experience’ to audiences, by answering questions, commenting on posts, and posting responses across video, photo, and emoji formats.

4.) Measuring your success

Social media analytics can help charities determine which platforms to use, as well as to refine content. A sample of some of the key metrics of success are:

  • ‘Likes’ and ‘shares’ from a post can help measure how popular your posts are
  • Audience and follower growth rates examine how large your network is
  • Followers versus following is a careful balance between networking with those with shared interests and followers – too few followers over the number of accounts followed might give off a ‘desperate’ impression

Source: Charity Digital News

Maximising The Long-Term Return From Your Fundraising Events

Statistically, events fundraising has never been one of the more profitable forms of fundraising. While both special events (e.g. a gala dinner or concert) and challenge events (e.g. a marathon or sporting challenge) can sometimes raise a lot, promotion costs are often high and a lot of staff time is required. For example, while you might expect a return on investment of 10:1 (£10 raised for every £1 spent) from trusts fundraising, or 5:1 from corporate fundraising, events are often closer to 2:1 or 3:1.

Even this figure is decreasing as fundraising events are hit by the current financial climate, market saturation and supporter fatigue (the challenge of keeping on going back to the same limited pool of supporters). If you have a small fundraising team, you’d be forgiven for wondering whether it’s worth your time committing to new fundraising events at all.

So in what circumstances are events still worth your time, and how do you decide whether they’re right for you?

To capitalise on these advantages, you need to be crystal clear what you’re looking to achieve from your fundraising events, and plan accordingly

Maximising The Benefits Of Special Events

Special events are excellent for engaging corporate and major donor prospects, encouraging existing supporters to introduce people from their own network, and recognising the contributions of key supporters. Particularly when your event features stories and speeches from the people you support, or creates an inspiring and celebratory atmosphere, or when senior staff and trustees are on hand to mingle with people.

When planning an event, liaise with people across your organisation to map out who should be invited. Then invite them well in advance, warmly, and with a personal message. Depending on how much you want them to be there, you can consider offering discounted or free tickets where appropriate, particularly if the long-term benefits outweigh the short-term cost.

On the night, make sure key prospects get plenty of time and attention, and take every opportunity to educate and inspire them about your organisation’s work. If you have a long-term plan about how you ideally want them to support your cause, you might be able to cunningly sow some seeds on the night.

Carry on the personal touch after the event, by thanking people and sending any follow-up material promptly, personally and creatively (for example with a handwritten card or colourful social media image). This often requires some advance planning, particularly if staff plan to take some much-needed time off after your event.

Bear in mind that high-value prospects expect ‘senior’ attention, so you need to enlist support from management and trustees at every stage – before, during and after your event. Particularly for corporate and major donor fundraising, it’s rare to be successful without senior level buy-in.

To read the full Lime Green Consulting article click here.

Source: Lime Green Consulting

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