Thursday, 28 March 2013

Making Sense of Giving Statistics

charity donations statistics

Good article from Sophie Hudson in The Guardian: Making sense of charitable giving statistics

The research found that donations in 2011-12 fell by 20% to £9.3bn – a fall of £2.3bn in real terms...

Soon after, fundraising software company Blackbaud released its Donor Perspectives... found that almost a quarter of donors said they had increased the amount they had given to charity in 2012. It found that 60% of respondents said they had given the same amount as in the previous year, and 17% said they had given less.

Over the past year, countless other surveys have been released by various organisations – all presenting varying pictures of the state of giving in the UK.

One of the key recommendations from the article is to look carefully at the methodology of the study. I was recently astounded to receive a questionnaire from a leading UK NGO which punctuated its statement questions with emoticons!

Not so much leading the question as directly telling you what to tick :)

No? :(

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Application Notification

There has been an interesting discussion on LinkedIn's Third Sector Jobs group.

The discussion began as a plea for employers to let applicants know even when they have not been successful with a job. I've added my own opinion to the full thread, but the majority of participants echoed what we've known all long:

  • People who have spent several hours preparing an application to work for your organisation feel devalued when they don't receive a reply.
  • The disclaimer 'we will only contact you if you've been successful' does not make them feel any better about it.
  • People seem to remember quite clearly the organisations that didn't respond, and it puts them off applying again in the future.

And, most importantly:

  • Not responding gives a poor image of your organisation to potential job seekers. If you can't manage to administer a simple reply, what else can't you administer efficiently?

Employers keep a record of all applicants' e-mail addresses so that they can contact shortlisted candidates. It takes very little effort to use that database of contact information to BCC all unsuccessful candidates to let them know.

Time worth spent avoiding the negative image that highly skilled job seekers will develop of your organisation if you do not.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Social Media Scheduling

A common complaint from organisations is that they don't have enough time in the day to manage their social media. 

Forward planning can really free up your time.

Blogs and Twitter both tend to allow you to schedule posts in advance. 

Just think, if you put aside a few hours at the end of each week to schedule most of your posts for the following week, then you wouldn't have to make as many posts during the week. That would free up a lot of concentration for other tasks.

Preparing the posts could even be something that a volunteer could do, allowing a member of staff to cast a quick editorial glance over everything once it's ready to go.

If this is something you might find useful, check out:

I'm personally a fan of FutureTweets for Twitter. Very easy to use. Just make sure you're logged in using your organisation's account rather than you personal account when you start scheduling your posts.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Donor Irritation

This week's Voluntary Sector Humour follows on from a recent article in The Guardian on Is the fundraising community in denial about donor irritation?

Fundraisers have to raise more amounts to fund the work of their organisations, but have blocked their ears to people telling them that they don't like fundraising techniques. We have told ourselves that mild irritation is an acceptable price to pay for raising money that changes lives – that the end justifies the means.

This just tickled me:

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

PayPal Donate

Someone asked on LinkedIn recently how you create a PayPal Donate button.

Quick answer for personal accounts:

  1. Open your PayPal account
  2. Click the My Account tab and Profile
  3. Select My Selling Preferences on left
  4. Click Update next to Manage my payment buttons at the top of the list
  5. Select Create New Button on right
  6. Under Choose Button Type select Donations
  7. Once you have filled out the information and hit Create Button, PayPal will give you the HTML code to copy/paste onto your blog or website

If you need to make alterations to the button or delete it, go back through to Manage my payment buttons.

However, if you're an organisation, you need to make sure that your funds are going via your organisation's accounts rather than an individual or personal account. 

The process is just the same, but you need to head over to PayPal and open a Business account (this should be a direct link in the UK). A standard business account is free, and you need to select 'charity/nonprofit' as the type of organisation in order to get better transfer rates.

That's how I've been doing it. If anyone's got a quicker way, let me know. There's also a guide on PayPal's website, and a YouTube tutorial. It's free and easy to do.

Also, check out my post on Why is PayPal a Good Idea?

Monday, 18 March 2013


This was brought to my attention in a tweet by Dartmoor Search & Rescue: @Dartmoor_SRTA

Everyclick is an award winning technology and fundraising company. To date, Everyclick products have raised £3,262,163.80.

Impressive stuff. Unfortunately, their About page doesn't really offer a concise overview of what they actually do, but the major attraction is their Give as you Live scheme:

Thousands of stores will donate money to your favourite charity when you shop online.

This includes B&Q, M&S, Boots, iTunes, Sainsbury's and John Lewis.

Once your members sign up with them, any online shopping they do with these businesses will help to raise funds for your charity.

There doesn't appear to be a setup fee, they simply take a small percentage of the money raised. I asked DSR how they were getting on with it and they responded:

It has its advantages but also has limitations. One major one being no SMS way of giving.

You might want to check out JustTextGiving for that.

If you decide to check out Everyclick, please drop a comment and let us know how it goes.

Friday, 15 March 2013


In yesterday's post about working from home, I included a slide presentation.

It's from this site, which I'm absolutely loving at the moment, called SlideShare.

It does what it says on the tin - allows you to share slide presentations.

There are some excellent and high quality presentations if you search Charity and Fundraising.

Here's all you need to know.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Working From Home

A topic close to my heart, as I do rather a lot of it. Also ties in with the post on TOIL, as to whether workers really need someone standing over them in order to get work done and targets achieved. How much could we save in unnecessary management costs if we worked towards a culture of self-management?

Nice article from the BBC: Teleworking: The myth of working from home

People in the West are constantly bombarded by news about technology that makes it easier to communicate with the office. Many have fast broadband and webcams that allow their faces to appear through the ether at any important meetings. They are surrounded by smartphones, laptops and tablets.

Everything is surely there to free them from the daily commute. Those in manufacturing or retail might always have to be present, but in an age when so many work in offices, why can't they have their office space at home?

This part was rather worrying:

They stress the continuing importance of so-called "passive face time" that is being in the office, regardless of what someone is doing.

'Passive face time' sounds more like a euphemism for slacking off than 'working from home', even though it takes place in an office.

I think the schism is likely to remain. Some people actively enjoy being part of an office, getting up and going into work both to do work and to socialise with colleagues. At the other end of the spectrum lie people - like myself - who feel most productive when I have a kettle, laptop and absolutely 0% of distraction from other people.

This is the key point. A blanket approach is not going to work for a company of individuals. However, if you base results monitoring on... well, results, rather than whether someone is in the office or not, then it shouldn't matter whether people prefer to work from home or the office. To make a presumption that someone at home isn't working, or that someone in the office is working, based purely on their geography, seems rather silly. 

As is the concept that putting people who work best at home in an office, and people who work best in an office at home, will result in anything getting done.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Church Registration

I've had a few ecclesiastical groups inquire about charity status in the past.

Thought it was worth covering this as it's a common question

Under the Charity Commission's information guide: Excepted and Exempt charities, most churches are excepted charities, which means they are regulated by the Charity Commission, who may investigate them, but they do not have to formally register.

The best place to start if you're a church and want to understand your position better is this PDF:

In brief, it explains:

What is an ‘excepted charity’?

An excepted (church) charity is described by law broadly as a church which is connected with the following bodies: Baptist Union; Church in Wales; Church of England; Congregational Federation; Evangelical Fellowship of Congregational Churches; Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches (FIEC); Grace Baptist Trust Corporation; Methodist Conference; Presbyterian Church in Wales (also known as Calvinistic Methodist Church); Religious Society of Friends; Strict and Particular Baptists; United Reformed Church.

Which churches are not ‘excepted charities’?

Any church that does not fall within the list of ‘historic denominations’ listed in the previous question are not except ed from registration.

It's worth also seeing CC23 - Exempt Charities  

An exempt charity is one that is not regulated by, and cannot register with, the Charity Commission. This is an area that affects certain church funds which were traditionally considered exempt but which are likely not to be so at some point in the future.

(click to enlarge)

I recently spoke with a church who had set up a registered charity alongside itself. One reason for doing this was because they wished to work with homelessness and substance abuse. Although the Church was an excepted charity in its own right, they stood a better chance of raising funds and focusing on that specific problem as a separate charity. In cases such as that, the additional charity would need to register.

If you are at all unsure, you can contact the Charity Commission of England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

CT Xchange

CT Xchange is a donation scheme for technology to UK charities.

Most are aware of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

For charities in the UK, there's also the Microsoft Software Donation Scheme. It's available to most types of charitable organisation, except faith organisations, health and education institutes. Libraries, housing associations and international development groups may also be considered, providing they're based in the UK. There's a full list on their website.

The idea is to help organisations to afford the software they need. This may include things like Windows Vista Business, Windows 7 Professional, Visio and Windows Server.

As part of Microsoft’s Affordable Access to Computing Programme, Microsoft operates the Software Donations Programme through Charity Technology Trust's CTX Programme, providing support and software donations to eligible registered charities in the UK.

Microsoft UK’s aim is to build UK prosperity, both socially and economically, through their Citizenship programmes.

Full FAQ on their website, and simple sign-up procedure.

It appears that most products are simply reduced in price, rather than free. However, it may be worth having a look though, especially if you're starting up or about to receive a donation of new computers. Drop a comment below and let us know how it went.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Haiti and Other Places

Sorry to start the week on a grumble. Something carried over from Thursday, when Haiti was brought up as a text giving success example.

In terms of text giving, huge success:

The simplest form of mobile donation is text giving, which has been most vividly realised in America, where close to $50m (£32m) was raised through texts alone after the devastating Haiti earthquake.

In terms of transparency, not so much: Haiti quake: Why isn't aid money going to Haitians?

Three years on from Haiti's devastating earthquake, the country's UN special envoy has revealed little official aid money has gone to the country's government and organisations. Why is the funding bypassing Haitians?

...most still accept, despite the billions of pounds of aid, progress in Haiti has been slow. Some 358,000 people remain in temporary accommodation with little access to sanitation, health care and education, according to Oxfam.

Hot on the heels of the DFID Rwanda Dispatch, which seemed to struggle to account for where very large amounts of tax payer spending had actually been spent. 

As an individual donor and tax payer, I feel that the system of 'crisis campaign and forget' tends to work very well. The other day, I was having a discussion with a friend and found myself asking: "Do you remember that huge flood in India a few years back? What ever happened there?"

It dominated rolling 24-hour news for weeks, yet nobody I've spoken to since, many of whom donated to the appeal, actually knows how the situation now stands for people living there. Did we make a difference? We assume that because it's no longer on the news, we must have done. 

I think a lot of organisations know this. We're all waiting for the next crisis to talk about, with little afterthought for the one we've just participated in. There's little follow-up reporting because there's little demand for information.

If we want a change in reporting, we - as donors - need to demand one.

As a consultant, I was disappointed by the Dispatch programme as DFID is currently #1 in the table of international transparency. If they can't answer, when asked, what they're spending money on, what example is there for other organisations to follow? More than that, shouldn't they be expecting to be asked?

I don't accept the answer 'Oh, international development is such a complicated thing.'

If I walked into any other organisation and they couldn't clearly account for their income and expenditure, I'd start by remodelling their recording system so that it is easy to understand. 

One of my favourite quotes of all time, from Einstein:

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.

If a system is overly complicated, that is because it has been allowed, even encouraged, to become so. 

Instead of assuming that the system is so complicated that it cannot be explained to people, perhaps DFID, the World Bank and other international development agencies should take control of their own media image. Instead of waiting for Dispatch to roll up and ask perfectly reasonable questions, in a slightly confrontational manner, they could instead film on-the-road documentaries showing the progress and pitfalls involved in undertaking such massive projects across diverse cultures.

If David Attenborough can explain the intricate lifecycle of the continent of Africa to us over six episodes on BBC One, it can't be beyond the capabilities of an international aid conglomerate to explore the complexities of the work they do in a language that most people will understand. 

The public are generally more willing to support the work you do as an organisation when they don't feel that the language and systems you have developed are there to keep them out. Transparency begins with a desire to want to share knowledge and experience.

Friday, 8 March 2013


Cartoon by Inform Local
I was clearing out some old e-mails the other day and found one from a friend which fits the Voluntary Sector Humour bill perfectly.


The tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed down from generation to generation, says that when you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

In the Public Service, however, a whole range of far more advanced strategies are often employed, such as:

  1. Change riders.
  2. Buy a stronger whip.
  3. Do nothing: “This is the way we have always ridden dead horses.”
  4. Visit other countries to see how they ride dead horses.
  5. Perform a productivity study to see if lighter riders improve the dead horse’s performance.
  6. Hire a contractor to ride the dead horse. (Can be useful as a saddle when it comes to covering your back!!)
  7. Harness several dead horses together in an attempt to increase their speed.
  8. Provide additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse’s performance.
  9. Appoint a committee to study the horse and assess how dead it actually is.
  10. Re-classify the dead horse as ‘living impaired’.
  11. Develop a strategic plan for the management of dead horses.
  12. Rewrite the expected performance requirements for all horses.
  13. Modify existing standards to include dead horses.
  14. Declare that, as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overheads, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line than many other horses.
  15. Promote the dead horse to a supervisory position (but the competition for positions is fierce).

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Text Giving and Apptivism via mobile platforms is growing at a blistering rate. The simplest form of mobile donation is text giving, which has been most vividly realised in America, where close to $50m (£32m) was raised through texts alone after the devastating Haiti earthquake. Closer to home, text giving is enfranchising many smaller organisations – not just charities, but also causes that want to raise money and capitalise on a nation that is increasingly spontaneous. For instance, Acorns Children's Hospice raised £7,500 through JustTextGiving by simply publicising a text code during a football match.

Worth checking out JustTextGiving.

If you're not too sure how apps might be used to benefit your charity, there's a list of 5 Charitable Apps For Tech-Savvy Humanitarians which  gives you a sense of the direction technology is heading in. We've also mentioned Facebook apps before.

In early 2010, after acquiring my first iPhone, I soon discovered the power of Apps… how regularly I was willing to spend small amounts of money – and how addictive the very best Apps can be. An ‘ah ha’ moment occurred and my direction was set – to create a cool little iPhone game that benefited Sea Shepherd. The key ingredients were that the game had to be fun, and addictive. Thus ‘Apptivism’ was born...

Many organisations are put off this concept because it's highly technical. Whereas most people understand how to use an app, few are savvy enough to build one. 

Nobody is expecting you to. Fall back on community engagement and volunteering. If you can't make one yourself, find somebody who can. Draw up a skilled volunteer role, canvas your members, post in tech forums, talk to your Volunteer Centre, approach university departments and software corporations - ask for help.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Charity Bank Accounts

As a voluntary organisation, who you bank with can be important on a number of levels.

Most major banks provide free charity banking for organisations with a Constitution and Board of Trustees. My personal favourite is the Co-operative Community Directplus account. I recommend this one to my charity start-up clients for the following reasons:

  • The Co-operative Bank is extremely ethical. It doesn't invest in countries with oppressive political regimes, or trades that damage the environment, test on animals or peddle fur. For a charity, it's nice to know that your bank shares Voluntary Sector values.
  • You receive free banking to a tune of £1mil per annum, whereas some banks review this at £100,000.
  • It's easy to bank using your local Post Office.

All in all, I like the Co-operative.

It's always good to look around, and there are ultra ethical banks such as the Charity Bank, which is itself a charity (although this may be about to change). Drop a comment below with your own recommendations.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Social Media Analytics

Last week I explained how to do a basic calculation to track your increase in social medial followers.

That leads in rather nicely to this article: How To Analyze Campaign Success Rates Through Landing Pages

Managing a successful campaign is all about understanding your targeted audience and finding the best ways to appeal to them. Get active in finding the best approaches to maintaining customer retention by understanding what pages and information yield the most positive results.

This explains how to use your web statistics to work out whether your PR campaign is working effectively. There's a lot to be learned, if you know what to look for. 

Useful to think about how you channel people from your social media to the correct landing page, translating into donations, petition signatures or whatever else you're trying to mobilise people into achieving.

Monday, 4 March 2013

International Development Jobs

(Image courtesy of Judy **)
A friend recently asked me where I pick up contracts.

There are lots of international development job lists advertising both full-time posts and consultancies around the world. They also tend to advertise volunteer positions and internships. Perhaps the biggest and best known is Devex. They certainly run one of the most exhaustive lists, however they also tend to charge to view certain jobs and to promote your profile.

I'm not a big fan of paying to find work, so here's my preferred pick:

AlertNet, run by Reuters, tends to pick up most of the same jobs without asking you to fork out money to view them. You can view listings on-site or sign up to their bulletin. 

Another smaller, but perfectly formed, resource is Idealist. There's been a notable increase in TEFL jobs in China over the past year, but they still post quite a few IntDev opportunities. Nice online networking community alongside. Again, you can receive bulletins via e-mail.

If you're particularly interested in UN jobs, then UNJobs is the place to go. Search by Country, Department and Closing Soon.

Another place worth keeping an eye on, especially if you're in the UK, is The Guardian Jobs site, under Charities Jobs. Scroll down to 'Location' and you'll see the main ones advertised, or check 'International'. Many of their international jobs are UK, and often London-based, but quite a few are overseas or require travel.

Finally, over the past few months I've become more interested in LinkedIn. Their job search function is average, but their groups offer quite a bit of potential. Groups such as Technical Assistance Consultancy Network, Third Sector Jobs and International Development tend to have quite active job listings. When you join a group you can opt to receive a daily or weekly digest via e-mail. It's also good for promoting your CV.

Another couple of e-bulletins that are good for consultants looking for contracts and tenders are ALNAP and GRM.

Those are my top job and contract hunting sites. Feel free to drop a comment listing yours.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Non-Profit Humour

It's been a while since we did Voluntary Sector Humour. Since it's the last day of the week on the first day of the month, here goes.

I particularly enjoyed this one after a representative of my university alumni phoned up to make scripted small talk before asking me to pledge my direct debit details.

Anyway. This came from a blog specifically dedicated to Non-Profit Humour. Good for a chuckle.