Saturday, 24 December 2011

'Good Egg' 2011

Taking a break now until the New Year. Nobody likes to work over the holidays. Hope everyone is enjoying theirs. On a parting note, I've just been nominated KnowHow NonProfit's 'Good Egg' of 2011. 

Check out their website for lots of information on how to make your organisation a success. 

Heroes of 2011 + Other News e-bulletin  - 22.12.11

Thursday, 22 December 2011


(Image courtesy of bandita)

As an organisation, you have a legal responsibility to protect personal information about your members. Even if the country you operate in doesn't have a Data Protection Act, it's still good practice.

Whereas most organisations in the UK uphold strict practices on keeping sensitive information locked away, or password protected, many make an unintentional blunder.

I have seen this happen on a number of occasions. Often when organisations are sending out mass updates to their members, and once when I applied for a job and the organisation thought it best to reply to all applicants in one go. Not only did I know that I hadn't got the job - I knew who else hadn't either.

CC on an e-mail stands for 'Carbon Copy' - harking back to the days when purchase orders and receipts were written out by hand and duplicated with a sheet of carbon paper. Everyone in the CC box will receive a copy of the e-mail you send. They will also be able to see everybody else who has been CCed, including their e-mail addresses. 

In doing this, you may be distributing personal contact information without prior consent.

BCC stands for 'Blind Carbon Copy'. As with CC, everyone listed in that box will receive a copy, but they won't be able to see who else has received a copy. If you address the 'To' box to yourself and BCC everybody else, they will only be able to see your contact information.

This is a really good habit to get into, and something to bring to the attention of administrative staff.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011


Thinking of conducting some stakeholder research? Want to find out what the public think of your image, or the issues your members think are important? Head over to: 

Sign up for a Basic, free account and start asking the questions that matter. 

Don't forget to balance your closed questions (requiring yes/no answers) with open-ended ones. It's not always enough to know whether something is happening (22% of respondents indicate that they have stopped using your services), you will also need to know why (they say they have stopped because...) 

Use the 'If not, why not' rule. Instead of just asking 'Yes/No' - ask: 'if no, why?' 

Knowing the reasoning behind responses will help you to formulate your strategy for the future. 

Try to be specific in targeting the information you need. What will you use this information for? The larger your sample group, the longer it will take to analyse feedback. Make sure you're not creating unnecessary work for yourself.

Finally, don't forget that online surveys will only provide one side of your sample group. What about elderly respondents, or those from very low income backgrounds? They may not know how to use a computer or have access to one. You may also need to run postal or face-to-face questionnaires to make your data truly representative of your members. 

You can get advice on designing your survey or analysing the data at

Monday, 19 December 2011

Information is Beautiful

A fascinating look at how visual representation can give you the big picture. Check out their website for more.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

NCVO Funding Central

[UPDATE JUNE 2016 - Funding Central is going subscription for organisations over £100,000 per year and individuals.]

Thanks to Madeleine Sugden of KnowHow NonProfit for mentioning another funding database in the UK, along similar lines to GRANTnet:

Click on the blue 'Search for grants, contracts & loans' button to get started.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Wait A Minute...

(Image courtesy of stratic)

Are minutes really essential for effective meetings?

Action logs can successfully take the place of reams of paper whilst effecting real change and achievement.

If something is important enough to be minuted, it usually involves an action. With Excel you can log every action ever agreed, and its progress.

Think about it. How often have you read back through all of the minutes written on a meeting? How many times have you turned up to meetings to find that other people haven’t read them either?

Nobody likes long documents to read through, especially people who are already busy. But it has become ‘business culture’ to keep writing them. 

Replacing minutes with an Action Log prevents concrete decisions from getting lost under piles of 'he said', 'she said'. 

If we accept that the whole point of holding a meeting is to make decisions, in order to take positive action, then this is how we can monitor those decisions and clearly report on progress.

Having a ‘To Do’ list will spur people into action, especially when they know that they will have to report on their progress at the next meeting.

Actions shouldn’t be written in the margins of minutes, they should be at the forefront in bold letters!

(click to enlarge)

The important things to include are:

Who: has agreed to the action?
What: specifically have they agreed to do?
When: have they agreed to complete this task by?

At the beginning of each meeting, review the log to monitor progress and encourage support in completing any tasks not yet done. At the end of every meeting, read back through to make sure that everybody is clear about what they have (and have not) agreed to.

Happy logging.

Thursday, 15 December 2011


[UPDATE JUNE 2016 - GRANTnet has rebranded as Open4Funding. It's now practically impossible to find free council access and their website is incomprehensible. I'm not even sure if they still offer a database. Another one bites the dust.]

Right, let's get the ball rolling with the one thing everybody always wants to know more about: funding.

If you're in the UK, there's a huge database of trusts and grant-giving bodies called GRANTnet.

The best part - it's totally free to access. Simply head to:

Enter the postcode of your organisation and find your local access point. Register for free, follow the steps, and away you go. Instant access to hundreds of potential funding sources.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011


Having spent the past eight years working in the Voluntary Sector, both in the UK and internationally, I have a few things to say on the matter.

This blog is a place to share ideas, tips and information on all aspects of the Third Sector and International Development. 

If you're working or volunteering for a community organisation anywhere in the world, whatever size or length of experience, you'll hopefully find this blog useful.