Thursday, 31 January 2013

Philanthropy UK

Ever thought of becoming a Philanthropist? You might like to check out Philanthropy UK.

Philanthropy UK is the leading resource for free and impartial advice to aspiring philanthropists who want to give effectively. We develop and share current information and best practice on giving; provide accessible links to specialists; and aim to inspire more people to become philanthropic and so enjoy the extraordinary rewards this brings.

Sorry to disappoint, but this isn't a funding site.

There are a couple of ways for organisations to look at this, though. Firstly, as a collection of insider publications, including Why Rich People Give and Giving While Living. Secondly, as a source of research to put you ahead of the game. Honestly - why do rich people give?

You might also like to check out the previous post on Philanthropic Motivation.

Let's face it, if you can understand that, you're on to a winner.

For those of you who happen to be reading this and wondering what to do with your tax-deductible millions, you might like to approach them for advice, or check out their magazine.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


Liking the look of Rafflecopter at the moment.

Their tagline: Rafflecopter is the world’s easiest way to run a giveaway.

Thinking of running a prize giveaway via your social media or website? Might be worth checking out.

They offer free, non-commercial and business packages. The latter are priced in U$D, which may make them even more attractive to UK charities, given the current exchange rate.

Only thing worth mentioning though - check with your local council whether you need a gambling license to run a raffle. Each council authority is different. Some don't charge at all if it's a one-off or irregular event, others may ask £20 for a year's 'small gaming license'. This applies to church raffles and tombolas, too. 

Chances are you won't need anything, but it's always worth checking beforehand.

If you do run giveaways via social media, don't forget to stipulate whether it's for UK entrants only, or worldwide. Opening it up might bring you more entrants, but you'll also need to pay more in postage to get the prizes to the winners.

If you do give this site a go, please leave a comment below and let us know how you get on.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Funding Circle

This caught my attention due to their latest tagline:

Government announces plans to join Funding Circle, lending to great British businesses alongside you.

Ah, so is that where the money they're cutting from the Voluntary Sector is going? Another form of Social Investment Funding?

Funding Circle describes itself thus:

Funding Circle is an online marketplace to help businesses find low cost loans quickly and investors get better returns. There are no middlemen, no banks, and no lengthy delays. By directly connecting people who want to invest money with vetted, established businesses who want to borrow money, we eliminate the cost and complexity of the banking world. It's simple, we're better for business, better for investors, better all around.

Sounds a bit like an online Dragon's Den.

So far they reckon:

  • Loans funded to date: £68,832,320
  • Number of businesses borrowed: more than 1,000

If you're looking for a loan to start up a Social Enterprise or a Community Interest Company (CIC), this might be one place to go and look. As they say, it cuts out the middle man and, with that, most of the banking charges and high-end interest rates.

If you do decide to try it, please drop a comment below and let us know how it goes.

Monday, 28 January 2013


A dark shadow was cast over December when eight polio workers were shot in Pakistan.

The killing of eight polio workers in Pakistan in two days is a brutal reminder of the hurdles facing health teams trying to eradicate the virus from one of its few remaining strongholds.

Pakistan, along with Afghanistan and Nigeria are the only countries where polio is endemic, which means transmission of the virus has never been halted.

As a development worker, I've heard all sorts of conspiracy theories from polio vaccinations being a plot to sterilise Muslims, to condoms and AIDS being a ploy by white men to prevent African men from breeding.

Yet, killing unarmed aid workers who were saving so many lives?


Still, let's take a moment to look at just how far we've come as a global society in the fight against this crippling disease. Incredible History of Polio photos at the bottom of that article. You can keep up to date at the Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

Also on the BBC news the same day I posted this!: Bill Gates: The world can defeat polio

Friday, 25 January 2013

The Maharajah's Well

Following in the footsteps of Radi-Aid, this week's Voluntary Sector Humour tells the true story of the Indian Maharajah who saved a small village in Southern England by building a well:

There's been much discussion over British aid to booming India, but in the 19th Century a village in southern England was saved by aid coming the other way.

It was the mid-1800s in southeast England, and a little boy was being beaten by his mother for drinking the last of the water in their house during a drought.

Thousands of miles away in India, the story was narrated by Edward Anderdon Reade, acting governor general of the United Provinces, to the Maharajah of Benares (now Varanasi) at the latter's palace over dinner.

Moved by the story from the Chiltern Hills, the Maharajah agreed to fund the sinking of a well in the village of Stoke Row, still recognisable today by the golden elephant that adorns it...

How lovely is that?

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Social Care Cuts

A new survey commissioned by the British Red Cross shows that cuts to preventative social care support are putting elderly and vulnerable people at risk:
According to the new ComRes poll, almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of councillors across England have seen funding for preventative and low-level social care cut or frozen since the last local election.

And where cuts (averaging 16 per cent) have taken place, 76 per cent of councillors are worried about the elderly and vulnerable in their local area. In areas affected by cuts, 69 per cent of councillors state that, as things stand, people in need will not receive the appropriate care.

The current government is confusing all of us with their mixed messages. One moment removing funding from Civil Society, the next, asking them to deliver more public services.

How? With whose money, and what resources?

Did the Private Sector jump at the chance? Don't see too many businesses running off the good will of overstretched volunteers whilst wondering how much longer they can pay their rent. 

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

FIRMA Exchange

Had an interesting discussion with an operative of FIRMA Exchange the other day.

Just repeating what he was explaining to me, but they are in the business of wiring money between bank accounts. They claim to be able to do this at prices below that which you would incur from your bank and, possibly, Western Union, one of their competators.

Apparently, it becomes particularly viable for transactions over £10,000. So, useful for transferring donor funds between country accounts.

Sadly, they don't operate in a number of conflict and post-conflict zones considered 'financially risky.' These include Afghanistan, Nigeria, Rwanda, Pakistan, Azerbaijan and even Kenya.

More useful for NGOs transferring between secure European and American accounts.

For a full list of the no-go areas, and to enquire about services and prices, contact Lee Lambourne: UK .44 (0)1298 812 093 / or visit their website.    

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Writing Financial Procedures

(Image courtesy of Tax Credits)

Haven't posted one of these for a while: How to Write a Financial Procedure, aimed at smaller charities and NGOs.

As well as a governing document, charitable organisations should also have a clear set of internal procedures, including Health & Safety, Equality, Grievance, Child Protection and Communications. This HowTo addresses how to write a financial procedure, though the advice given can also be applied to writing many other types of internal document. 

A neat little guide providing templates and some participatory approaches to protecting your organisation.

You might also want to check out the posts on Charity Fraud and Open Source Accounting Software.

Monday, 21 January 2013

The Tax Man

Going to give a shout out this Monday to my friend Kieran Holmes who is alliterately busy being brilliant in Burundi:

Bodyguards Flank Burundi Taxman as AK-47s Back Revenue Doubling
Holmes’s overhaul of the East African nation’s revenue- collection system included dismissing almost all the more than 400 tax administrators and recruiting qualified replacements. He clamped down on tax evaders, simplified procedures for filing and seized assets for non-compliant individuals and businesses. He even had the tax office’s cement walls taken down with sledgehammers and installed glass doors.  
Burundi’s tax revenue has almost doubled from 300 billion Burundi francs ($202 million) in 2009 to a projected 545 billion francs ($367 million) this year...
My role in Rwanda was advisor to the Commissioner General and project manager for the DfID project from 2002 to 2010, while in Burundi as Commissioner General, my responsibility is more political. In both countries we were working with government agencies to establish revenue authorities, which takes six to eight years.
You can also listen to him talking to The Guardian about his work.

Really proud of him, and definitely an important aspect of sustainable international development.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Ways to Say 'Give'

Yes, this week's Voluntary Sector Humour is a charity ad., but it's a pretty funny one. A parody of all the direct giving approaches used.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

DFID Dispatch

Out of professional curiosity, as I'm sure many aid and development workers in the UK did, I tuned into Channel 4's Dispatch programme: Where Has Your Aid Money Gone?

In case that link disappears, here's the lowdown:

Public spending is being slashed across the board. But the Department for International Development, which doles out Britain's overseas aid, is set to enjoy substantial year-on-year increases to £11bn by 2015.

Jonathan Miller travels to Rwanda - the jewel in the crown of British overseas aid - to investigate what British taxes have paid for, and to ask what our government has achieved with the influence our aid supposedly buys us. 

Having spent two years living in Rwanda, most of what was said regarding the political regime really wasn't news. What was shocking, however, was  the level to which DFID (the UK's Department for International Development) could not account for its spending, and, more dishearteningly, their lack of willingness to discuss the matter in an open and frank manner. It appeared from the programme that DFID in-country were willing to talk to the programme, yet seemed to receive a gagging order from London.

I have a huge amount of respect for DFID. On the whole they do fantastic work, and the people working for them are wholeheartedly invested in helping to make this world a better place. That's why it was so upsetting to see them turning it into a PR disaster, when it really didn't need to be one.

Not what you'd expect from an organisation that's just come top of the 2012 International Aid Transparency Index.

A few days later this appeared on Twitter:

@GlobalIntegrity 29th Nov: Really interesting - @DFID_UK is going 2 require grantees 2 publicly disclose how they spend money: 

The new initiative could really make governments and aid agencies accountable, said Mr Barder. “The idea that you can follow the money is a game changer.” By contrast, he notes, foreign-aid spending from America is divided between more than two dozen agencies and is virtually impossible to track. “Nobody across the system currently knows how much is going anywhere. At the moment it is a complete mess”, he said. “Whether you are an aid enthusiast or an aid skeptic, transparency is effective.”

Rather begs the question: why has it taken this long?

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Time to Stop Giving?

This week I've been covering the fall in the number of British Charities over the past couple of years. Since the recession hit, and Cameron announced his 'Big Society' (what ever happened to that?), charities have been in for a rough ride.

We've seen the rise of the Back Britain's Charities campaign in response.

Meanwhile, advocates at the other end of the scale are asking whether it's Time to Stop Giving?

At first, I was shocked by the title. Reading on, I actually found myself nodding quite a bit. The author, Georgie Fienberg, spent "...14 years, founding and developing the international child rights charity AfriKids and consulting for a further 50 organisations both in the UK and Africa."

I want to see poverty shock advertising consigned to the history books, right alongside the 80s perm. Only then can we start to engage in a dialogue that answers those big questions about the real efficacy of charity.
As a nation, the UK has already agreed to stop financial aid to India in 2015, due to its economic growth. We've held off donations to Uganda recently, due to corruption. Also, an educative Channel Four documentary showed DFID in a hugely unfavourable light as being unable to account for its spending in Rwanda, and refusing to talk about it to the press. Well, DFID on the ground said they would, but received a gagging order from London.

Along those lines, I'm absolutely in agreement that emotive fundraising needs to give way to logical approaches to problem solving, with far better implementation of monitoring and evaluation. We really must Learn from Failure, in the words of David Damberge. 

However, headlines like this certainly aren't about to make us feel warm and fuzzy about ourselves as a nation: Britain drops to eighth position on the list of most generous nations.

Britain has dropped to eighth place in the annual league table of world generosity, according to the World Giving Index, which surveyed more than 155,000 people in 146 countries, and was conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)...

The survey found that in 2011, 72% of Britons gave money to charitable causes, down seven percentage points from 79% in 2010. Just 26% of people volunteered time, down from 28% in 2010, whereas 56% of people had helped a stranger, down from 63% in 2010. 

Big Society coming along well there, then.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Charity Closures

This makes for interesting reading after yesterday's post on charity numbers falling: Behind the headline: why "7,000 charities close" doesn't tell the full story by David Kane.

Highly relevant given the current financial situation. It'll be interesting to see whether the recession causes these figures to fluctuate. Data in this article includes:

  • Number of charities registered and removed in Britain between 2000-2012
  • Reasons for removal
  • Small charity-specific (below £100,000) removal

The results are interesting, and suggest that there may be more charities closing since the advent of the financial crisis. However, I think this chart should be treated with caution - these results may simply reflect the increase in the number of large and medium charities over that period.

Certainly does make a difference who is interpreting the data.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Charity Numbers Fall

Not to get stuck in a doom-and-gloom rut, but after yesterday's article from August 2012 on Charity Closures, I thought I'd point out that this is an ongoing trend with an article from June 2011: Charity numbers fall leaving 'big society' pledge under threat

Official register records fall of over 1,600 charities in coalition's first year, with mergers seeing a 150% increase.

Definitely worth reading yesterday's article first, on how these figures can be interpreted. However, I'd like to pose a theory. When Justine Greening said the UK was stopping financial aid to India in favour of supporting its Private Sector, rather than its Civil Society or Voluntary Sectors, I felt she may well have been talking about the government's plans on the home front. 

Given the current government's push towards Social Enterprise and Social Investment Funding, one rather suspects that they would prefer to do away with the purely charitable sector altogether, in favour of Community Interest Companies (CICs) and Venture Philanthropy.

Rather an unsettling thought given the track record of privatisation in the UK, and the government's reliance on outsourcing service provision to the Voluntary Sector. Raises the age-old question: what do you do with the people you can't make money out of?

Ties in with the Back Britain's Charities campaign.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Bid Writing Tips

Final HowTo of the week is a little bit wordy: How to Provide Relevant Information when Outlining a Lottery Bid

The Big Lottery Fund is one of the UK's largest donors, supporting everything from expensive building renovations to local community projects. This HowTo has been written to help you to outline relevant information when making your bid. 

Don't be put off though, most of the tips in this HowTo are transferable to other types of funding bid. It covers the basic principles of proving need and thinking SMART.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Charity Staff Mentors

(Image courtesy of bujiie)

Following on with HowTos, here's a helpful one on How To Find a Mentor for Charity Staff.

Capacity building within a charity often starts with staff. Having the latest software isn't much use unless people know how to use it, and sending everyone on a course can get expensive fast. Here is how to plug the knowledge gap without breaking the bank.

Two of the main issues smaller charities and NGOs face are:

  1. Training staff at an affordable cost.
  2. Keeping skills within the organisation, so they don't walk out the door when staff do.

In this article I've tried to address both of those issues, as well as taking you through an easy Gap Analysis to identify missing skills.

Worth checking out if you're looking to build the capacity of your organisation.

The Small Charities Coalition also offer charity mentors.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Deciding Whether to Start a Charity

(Image courtesy of hellojenuine)
I've mentioned before that I write the occasional HowTo for KnowHow NonProfit. Most recently: How To Fundraise Using Facebook.

Over the break I've been writing a few more, so I'll take these first few days back to point them out. Starting with: How to Decide Whether to Start a Charity

With over 160,000 charities registered, and thousands of smaller community groups and local projects across the UK, it's a good idea to think carefully before deciding to set up a new charity.

I'd highly recommend that guide to anyone considering starting a community group or charity. Not just because I wrote it, but because it offers some vital alternatives to starting a charity, and also a simple viability test to help you to make up your mind.

Many of us have made new resolution for the year ahead, and social responsibility is probably included in there somewhere. Don't forget, you could also volunteer for a charity of your choice.

If you need an extra hand, check out my Charity Start-up Package.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Happy 2013

Happy 2013, and welcome back!

Here we go again for another round of tips, titbits and general commentary on all things Voluntary Sector and International Development.

I received an absolutely lovely e-mail on Boxing Day from a lady I gave some advice to about an orphanage project:

I don't know if you remember me, you helped me out giving a lot of information on how to tackle being an NGO two years ago... Having come a long way in those two years, and much of the progress founded on your advice, I just wanted to thank you once again... I doubt I would have gotten here now without your advice, so I really want to thank you very much for giving me that boost to get going.

Really made my day!

As a short-term contractor it isn't often that I get to see the results of the work I've put in. It's really special when someone takes the time to tell you about the difference your input has made. So, thank you, Florence. Hope the project continues to gain strength over the coming years.