Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Theatre Ghost

Actually, this is more a post about ghost theatres.

This picture is part of a blog and photo collection by Adam Slater, who began travelling the country in 2008, 'on a quest to photograph Britain’s abandoned and derelict cinemas and theatres before they are gone for good.'

The recent spate of arts cuts make for bitter reading. Little consolation that it has been left to the likes of Andrew Lloyd Webber and Judy Cramer to dish out emergency cash:

Wilton's Music Hall in London, Sleaford Playhouse and Liverpool's Royal Court Theatre are among the first to benefit from the Theatres Protection Fund's new small grants scheme.

Each have received £5,000 to help fund urgent repairs and improvements. 

Having worked briefly in theatre, £5,000 doesn't get you very far. I can also say that theatres are rarely commercial successes, with almost all arts venues relying on funding and grants of one sort or another to help see them through. Blame television, blame waning attention spans, blame computers if you must, but there comes an awkward crunch point where we either need to accept theatres as works of cultural importance, and protect them as such, or bow to supply and demand and admit that many of them have run their course.

Whichever way we vote on this may define our society for generations to come.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Why Social Enterprise?

Nice PDF guide for charities by Pilotlight: Why Social Enterprise?

Pilotlight has worked with over 300 charities and social enterprises. For many, social enterprise is seen as an excellent opportunity for developing their organisation, particularly in light of recent changes in the funding environment. In our work with charities we have repeatedly been asked for advice on what they should consider when setting up a social enterprise. We wanted to produce a clear and concise guide to enable charities to learn more about social enterprise and explore whether this exciting and growing area is right for them.

For more along these lines, check the Social Enterprise tag on this blog.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Business Background Check

(Image courtesy of Images_of_Money)

I recently wrote a KnowHow NonProfit HowTo on How to Background Check a Businesses. These HowTos are written to answer requests for information by Third Sector practitioners.

Sometimes charities may wish to check out businesses they plan to partner with in more detail.

The quick answer for exploring UK registered businesses is to head to Companies House WebChecker. Enter any business name or number and it will provide you with a list of documents including changes of appointment, accounts and Articles of Association, usually charged at £1 per download.

There are also tips in that HowTo on making the most of Google to look into businesses and board members.

Make sure that any businesses you partner with on projects or tenders are solvent, and avoid conflicts of interest by looking into the professional interests of their board members.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Policy Bank

There was a discussion the other day on KnowHow NonProfit, posted by an organisation looking for policy templates. All organisations need policies on things such as Financial Control, Ethics, Communications and Governance.

If you would like to check the list of policies you might need, and get templates to write them, I highly recommend:

They're based in Australia. Whereas the ethos of governing a charitable organisation should be universal, just check any technical information or sections pertaining to the law with your own country's requirements.

It's a good idea to keep policy documents as short and straightforward as possible. The shorter a document, the more likely somebody is to actually read it, and the greater their chance of retaining the information.

If you need a hand drafting your first set of policies, I offer a package via my website.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Africa's Resources

An article in the BBC last week asked the question:

It raises the shock statistic:

"On average, resource-rich countries have done even more poorly than countries without resources," according to Joseph Stiglitz, former chief economist at the World Bank and professor of economics at Columbia University, in the United States...

In Nigeria, the continent's biggest oil producer, at least $400bn (£250bn) of oil revenue has been stolen or misspent since independence in 1960, according to estimates by former World Bank vice-president for Africa, Oby Ezekwesili. That is 12 times the country's national budget for 2011. Meanwhile, 90% of people live on less than $2 per day.

On the other hand:

Diamond-rich Botswana has been praised as a country doing things right, experiencing relatively stable and transparent economic growth for decades.

It has also managed to retain some of the profits from processing its raw materials - something most African countries have failed to do. 

The article asks the question 'who is to blame for so many African countries failing to profit from their resources,' and encourages participation via the Twitter hashtags #bbcafricadebate and #resourceafrica or via Facebook.

There will be a BBC World Service debate at 19:00 GMT this Friday (26th October 2012).

What are your thoughts?

Monday, 22 October 2012

Google Drive

If you're collaborating on documents between offices or even countries, it's worth knowing that Google Docs has had a bit of an upgrade and is now called Google Drive.

I've written a very quick 'how to' guide with easy to follow pictures. Click here to download (PDF).

The video above explains what it does. It's basically a storage facility that allows multiple people to edit documents whilst avoiding the issue of having to e-mail huge files. Works for pictures, spreadsheets and just about everything else, too.

DropBox is another option which does exactly the same thing, however it gives you less free storage space.

Useful tool.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Civil Society Almanac


This is a nice post to end the week on.

First published in 1996 as the UK Voluntary Sector Statistical Almanac, the 2012 edition is the reference publication for anybody interested in the voluntary sector and its role in civil society. Widely cited by the media, government policy makers and sector leaders, the Almanac offers a definitive overview of the voluntary sector’s scope and characteristics, enhanced by analysis of long-term trends.

If you head over there and use the tabs along the top, you can find out all sorts of interesting information such as the VolSec's biggest income stream, whether the size of an organisation changes what they spend money on and even how many people benefit from the work of charities across the UK.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Education for All Global Monitoring Report

This week saw Malala Yousafzai, a fifteen-year-old Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for campaigning on education for girls, arrive in the UK for medical treatment.

This week also saw the launch of the 2012 Education for All (EFA) Global Monitoring Report.

Many young people around the world — especially the disadvantaged — are leaving school without the skills they need to thrive in society and find decent jobs.

As well as thwarting young people’s hopes, these education failures are jeopardizing equitable economic growth and social cohesion, and preventing many countries from reaping the potential benefits of their growing youth populations.

The 2012 Education for All Global Monitoring Report will examine how skills development programmes can be improved to boost young people’s opportunities for decent jobs and better lives.

Direct link to PDF.

Meanwhile, the BBC posed the question: Can the world keep its promises on schools?

The millennium pledge made by international leaders that all children would have a primary education by 2015 is going to be "missed by a large margin".

That's the stark conclusion of a report published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Do you agree?

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Urban or Rural Wealth

Infographic from the World Bank proving that: "Moving from farms to cities does not always bring economic growth."

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Philanthropic Motivation

Moving on from Sustainability and Donor Trust yesterday, here is an interesting interview with Dame Stephanie Shirley, wartime child refugee and self-made multi-millionaire. In this article there is a short video where she explains what motivates her to be a philanthropist, and why it's important.

The desire by the super-rich to create some kind of social impact is not a new phenomenon, according to Jen Shang, philanthropic psychologist at Indiana University and the University of Bristol.

What is new, she says, is how they care about the creation of that social impact...

An interesting insight.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Sustainability and Donor Trust

Today I'm going to have a word about sustainability, and I'm going to use a big name to illustrate my point.

Sustainability is an important word in fundraising. Donors are looking for it. They want to know whether you're thinking about the future, or only the immediate present. Are you going to take their money and spend it, or are you going to take their money and spend it on something that will help to provide security for your organisation in the future?

An example.

A few years ago, Wikipedia launched an appeal on their website. Like many millions of others, I donated. Why? Because I think Wiki is a fantastic resource that's helped me out no end of times in the past. I would dearly miss it if it went away.

Last week, I saw the following appeal on Wiki's website. A banner which read:

Wikipedia is non-profit, but it's the #5 website in the world, serving 450 million people every month. To protect our independence, we'll never run ads. Google and Yahoo have thousands of servers and staff. We have 646 servers and 140 staff. If everyone reading this gave £5, our fundraising would be done in an hour. Please help us forget fundraising and get back to Wikipedia.

This is the third time I've seen them appeal for money, and I'm becoming more bothered each time.

Here's why.

The campaign has been running yearly for a while now and it has constantly grown in its ambitions along with size of the site and the costs associated with running it. Last year the Wikimedia Foundation set a goal of raising $6 million to cover the day-to-day costs and it not only met its goal, it also went on to get $6.9 million in donations from over 125,000 donors... This year the organization has also set up several new ways of donating and spreading the word.

6.9 million dollars? 

My concerns as a funding consultant piqued in the second sentence of this year's appeal: "To protect our independence, we'll never run ads."

Great. You've told me what you will never do to create financial sustainability, but what will you do?

By the sound of thing, Wiki don't plan to do anything, they will simply hold out their hand year after year. Probably raising close to the same amount each time provided people don't get bored of being asked, at which point they will - like me - stop giving.

It's rather a let-down for donor relations. For an organisation to have that level of individual giving support is huge. An organisation then has a responsibility not just to spend that money and think about the immediate future, but to think how they will use that money to generate more money, or projects that result in sustainable products and services. 

Like many donors, I will often give once in response to an appeal that I feel engaged with. However, I expect to see that money used strategically and responsibly. If an organisation doesn't feed back how they are doing that, or does not appear to consider sustainability in their model of operation, then I am unlikely to give again.

This is something worth thinking about in your own operations. I will make another post soon about sustainability cycles and how to plan sustainably.

Friday, 12 October 2012

Importance of Sanitation

Signing off this week with a little toilet humour. Actually, rather more serious than that.

Interesting article on the BBC about the importance of sanitation:

In a world where 2.5 billion people still do not have access to basic sanitation facilities, and 1.5 million children die each year from preventable diseases as a result, there is a pressing need to find sustainable solutions to this most ancient of human problems...

"The United Nations estimates that achieving the Millennium Development Goal for sanitation could save us $66bn [£41bn] in time, productivity, averted illness and death," says Sanjay Bhatnagar, chief executive of WaterHealth International...

This has led to quite a bit of business interest and innovation. Especially since the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation launched the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge with $3.2mil in grants at stake. Apparently, designs had to be 'hygienic, sustainable, cheap to operate, and capable of working "off-grid" - without connections to water, electricity, or sewerage networks. Ideally, they should also be capable of reclaiming reusable materials from human waste.'

Some of the responses were quite incredible.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Politics of UK Aid

Very interesting article in The Guardian:

David Cameron has reaffirmed the coalition government's commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) on foreign aid and has called on other countries to meet this long-standing UN pledge. But the government is under pressure from its own backbenchers to reduce aid spending, which has been protected from budget cuts.

There are some interesting statistics outlining what UK aid has helped to achieve, as well as a short piece about whether aid promotes development.

I was recently at a meeting where someone told me they wanted to volunteer in a 'real developing country - not somewhere like India.' When I asked what they considered a real developing country to be, they brought up India's recent economic growth as a case against its need for international aid. There's an interesting line in this article:

Questions have been raised by politicians, including most recently Ivan Lewis, the shadow development secretary, on why the UK is sending aid to India, a country that has its own space programme, although it also has more people living on less than $1.25 a day than all of Africa.

I suspect if you did a bubble burst of Hans Rosling's development statistics on India, the gap would be visually astounding. 

With a global increase in the gap between rich and poor, external aid needs to be focused on alleviating true poverty. At the same time, donors need to encourage initiatives for the growing financially stable populace within a country like India to begin building its own Third Sector. 

Cutting aid to India in the short-term will see the poorest people, those benefiting from aid, suffer most. In the long-term, it is right that a growing economy starts to make provision for all of its citizens.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Twitter Design

Last month, Twitter introduced a new design tool. It allows you to personalise your Twitter feed to a much greater extent. This article:

Gives examples of charities and not-for-profit organisations using the new design tool, as well as providing four easy steps for using it yourself.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Cost of Generating Voluntary Income

(Click to enlarge)

Thanks to Fundraisingfanatic on the KnowHow NonProfit board for this.

It's a graph from 2007-2009 showing how much money charities spend on fundraising initiatives (light grey) verses how much money they bring in from those efforts (dark grey). It was posted to illustrate that not all money given to charity goes on fundraising.

It's calculated from the published accounts of all 162,363 charities on the Charity Commission books at that time.

What we found was that in both 2007 and 2008, the amount of money charities spent to raise £1 was just 10p. In 2009, during the recession, when donors had less disposable income to donate (and their surpluses were being squashed – see previous blog), the figure went up slightly to 12p.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Voluntary Sector Worth

Yesterday, I gave my answer to a question on LinkedIn: What are the biggest challenges facing voluntary organisations today?

In brief, I think that, given the amount of money the top 1,000 charities in the UK turn over, they are going to need to become better at explaining what they do with their funds in order to maintain their good relationship with the public.

I also suggested that there is a widening financial divide between the top charities and local, smaller charities.

Whilst replying to this, I found myself wondering what the total worth of the Voluntary Sector was to the UK economy.

Here's a very helpful guide from NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations):

Makes for interesting reading:

...we estimate that the voluntary sector contributes £11.7 billion to UK gross value added, equivalent to 0.8% of the whole of the UK GVA. The voluntary sector makes a contribution to the UK economy comparable to other sectors: for example, the GVA of agriculture is £8.3 billion.

It is also estimated that the total output value of the UK's volunteers is £23.1 billion!

Don't forget to calculate their worth to your organisation.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Data & Art

(Image from presentation.)
As you know, I'm a fan of Information is Beautiful and any other way of making hard data into something informative and pleasing to look at.

This just about tops the scale. It's taken from a great audio slideshow presentation put together by Dave Lee for the BBC, called:

This unique jewelry was made by Stef Lewandowski. He analysed his wife's Twitter account, then created this bar chart necklace of  top tweets, laser etching individual tweets down each bar.

As he puts it, a 'semi-private locket'.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Beginners' Guide to EU Funding

(Image courtesy of European Parliament)

EU funding, and the process of applying for EU funds, is notorious for being rather tricky.

Thankfully, there's a free Beginners' Guide for EU Funding (2007-2013), published by the European Commission.

Overview of financial rules and funding opportunities 2007-2013.
  •     Are you a newcomer to EU funds?
  •     Do you think the financial procedures are too heavy?
  •     Are the funds transparent and the control effective?
  •     How much is at stake?

This updated Beginners’ Guide provides you with:
  •     An overview of funds available in different sectors
  •     Information on rules to follow when accessing funds
  •     Advice on where to look for more detailed information on a particular funding opportunity
  •     Contact details

If you would like this document in any European language other than English, you can find it here.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Paying Volunteers

(Image courtesy of PoetPrince)
There was an interesting question raised on KnowHow NonProfit the other day: Is it possible to pay volunteers?

In my mind this opens up a lot of other questions, such as 'can trustees take paid roles within an organisation,' and 'should we pay per diems'? The latter is largely an international development question. I'll try and get to all of these in time.

The short answer to the original question is 'no'.

By definition, a Volunteer is: 'A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.'

The good practice rule is that no volunteer should ever be out of pocket for helping you. As an organisation, you should always reimburse the volunteer for any expenses they incur with regard to transport, materials and office supplies, provided these expenses have been agreed in advance and receipts are provided for your accounts.

If you think that it is too expensive to do this, take a moment to calculate the worth of the volunteer to your organisation. You'll usually find it's a pretty good deal.

However, once you start paying a volunteer for their services, by definition they become an employee. No longer freely undertaking a task, but contractually obliged either verbally or in writing. You then need to consider employment law and taxes.

Both ethically and practically, you should not be paying volunteers to volunteer.

However, as mentioned in that discussion, if you would like to give your volunteers a little extra something to say 'thank you', you can do this by giving them a gift that isn't money. Perhaps a gift card to spend elsewhere, a box of chocolates, a bunch of flowers, or offer them a training course for free. This will improve their skill set and the capacity of your organisation at the same time.

For more information on volunteering best practice, check out Volunteer Now.

There are also some additional rules relating to Trustees.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Google Entrepreneurs

Isn't this an interesting concept?

Google funding entrepreneurs, focusing on international development and start-ups. 

It will be very interesting to see how this goes. Nice display of corporate and social responsibility.