Thursday, 29 August 2013


Concluding this week's focus on employment, thought I'd mention ACAS:

ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) aims to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations.

They do this by offering a range of services including dispute mediation:

Harmonious workplace relationships are essential to optimum business efficiency. Even minor problems can develop into grievances or disputes if they're not dealt with quickly and effectively. 

Tools and resources (including e-learning), and training.

We all run into difficulties from time to time, whether you're an employer or employee. This is a good place to head to stop things from deteriorating, and to try to find solutions that everyone is happy with.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Right Consultant 

I recently had a message through about Right Consultant. They work on a membership scale, but creating a basic profile is free. Useful for both consultants looking for work and for organisations looking for consultants.  

Though, naturally, I would suggest that you check out my own consultancy and training pages first.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

National Careers Service


On a careers theme this week, thought I'd add a link to the National Careers Service in the UK. Helpful for anyone looking to change career, find their way into the Voluntary Sector, switch sectors, or simply looking for a new job after all the government cut-backs and failing employment levels.

They offer a range of free career tools, including a CV builder and action plan, dedicated career advisers, and a section specifically for young people aged 13-18.

You might also like to check out Vision2Learn.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Africa Scholarships


Excellent online database at Africa Desk listing a wide range of links to scholarship funding for African undergraduates and postgraduates looking to study in the UK.

Friday, 23 August 2013

aBowman Gadgets

A little bit of desk-based entertainment for this week's Voluntary Sector Humour. Run your mouse over it...

You can pick them up at aBowman Gadgets.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Community Right to Challange

Right to Challenge 1 

In a similar community-empowerment vein as Asset Transfer, this might be of interest to local voluntary and community groups:

The Community Right to Challenge is now in effect. It enables communities to challenge to take over local services that they think they can run differently and better. The Right to Challenge could be used to run a wide range of local services.

You can find out all about Community Right to Challenge and much more at My Community Rights.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Mind Tools

Mind Tools is an essential site to bookmark for any organisation.

Offering extensive free toolkit, videos and Bite-Sized Training. If you find this useful, you might also like KnowHow NonProfit's free HowTos and affordable training courses.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Big Data


Having discussed data protection yesterday, here's an interesting development that my friend Martin mentioned recently.

According to Wiki:

Big data is a collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using on-hand database management tools or traditional data processing applications.

The article Big Data – for better or worse outlines why large statistical analysis is here to stay:

A full 90% of all the data in the world has been generated over the last two years...

An increasing amount of data is becoming available on the internet. Each and every one of us is constantly producing and releasing data about ourselves. We do this either by moving around passively – our behaviour being registered by cameras or card usage – or by logging onto our PCs and surfing the net.

The volumes of data make up what has been designated 'Big Data' – where data about individuals, groups and periods of time are combined into bigger groups or longer periods of time.

The article goes on to cover some really interesting points, including the advantages to research, how data is being compared, and what conclusion might be drawn.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Data Protection Act

As an organisation, you have a duty to protect sensitive information in your care. Managing this data is covered by the Data Protection Act. Here's a quick summary: 

The Data Protection Act 1998 restricts the use of personal data stored in computers or in structured paper files. There are eight principles to follow when processing personal data. Organisations must ensure that data they keep about individuals is: 

  • Processed fairly and lawfully: Data must be obtained and processed fairly and lawfully. Normally this means that individuals have given their consent. The more sensitive the data (such as that concerning religion or mental health), the more explicit the consent must be. 
  • Processed for limited purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate and up to date 
  • Not kept for longer than is necessary 
  • Processed in line with the rights of individuals 
  • Secure 
  • Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection: Data should not be transferred outside the EU unless the recipient country also protects data 

Under the Act a person may see any information held about them, although they may be asked to pay for this service a fee not exceeding £10. 

Individuals have the right to: 

  • Access data held about them 
  • Prevent processing which would cause distress or damage 
  • Prevent direct marketing usage 
  • Reconsideration instead of Automated decision making, such as credit checks 
  • Address inaccurate information 
  • Compensation if the Act is contravened 

Exemptions to the act may occur in cases of: 

  • National security 
  • Crime detection 
  • When the data is for domestic use only 

If you want more information on Data Protection, there is a free PDF from CFG called: Protecting Data, Protecting People: A Guide for Charities 

Also worth checking out BCCing when e-mailing.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Asset Transfer Funding, England


I mentioned a while back how Community Asset Transfer can be used to help your organisation obtain possession of a building.

Well, here's a quick heads-up for organisation in England. I recently noticed there's funding of up to £100,000 for organisations to conduct a feasibility study into undertaking Community Asset Transfer. 

It's called the Community Ownership & Management of Assets Feasibility Grant and funding is open until December 2015, so you've got plenty of time to work out your project.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

More Learning From Failure

Illustration Caroline Gamon

As you probably know, I'm a huge fan of  David Damberger's TED talk, Learning from Failure.

Pop over and have a quick watch of that if you haven't already. He may be talking in an international context, but it's applicable to each and every NGO on the planet.

That's why I also enjoyed this article by Sam Loewenberg: Learning from Failure.

Essentially, the overriding sentiment is:

Last year an Obama administration official called on the aid community to adopt a “permanent campaign mind-set,” in which fund-raising and promotion are on the front burner. This creates an incentive to go for easy victories, highlight successes and bury failures. Even with the new fad in the aid world for metrics and impact assessments, their public reports are rarely forthcoming about missteps.

That’s bad science. While aid organizations must be accountable for outcomes, that pressure for positive results should not be an encouragement to skimp on the truth. Making a difference in the world is hard, often messy work. Pretending otherwise is no help at all. 

Heed those words.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Global Corruption Barometer

Thanks to my friend Dirk for mentioning this recently: 

Since its debut in 2003, the Global Corruption Barometer has surveyed the experiences of everyday people confronting corruption around the world.

Lots of excellent resources and stories. You could honestly spend hours on their site. The above picture comes from the results of their global survey. They also have an extensive publications section.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Currency Converter 

If your organisation has projects running in more than one country, chances are you need to do quite a few currency conversions. is an excellent site for this. A straightforward currency converter based on up-to-the-minute market rates. It can convert between any currency in the world. 

You might also like to check out FIRMA Exchange for shifting some of that converted money between countries.

Friday, 9 August 2013

Go Home!

After my post earlier this week on Ice & Fire, today's Voluntary Sector Humour is dedicated to the inventive ways the UK public have responded to the government's horrific 'go home' vans: 

Liberty responded by hiring this van and driving it around London:

Liberty vans

And someone made this wonderful mock-up, which has been doing the rounds on Facebook:

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Courier Comparison

I haven't actually tried this yet, but I thought it was an ingenious idea.

If you're struggling to come to terms with Royal Mail's recent price hikes, or you need to get something halfway around the world at the best price possible, simply measure it, weight it, and pop it through Parcel Monkey or Delivery Quote . It should get back to you with the most cost-efficient option for your item.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Ice and Fire

I went to an AGM at a refugee and asylum organisation a few weeks back and they started off with an incredible theatre company called Ice and Fire (Facebook/Twitter).

ice&fire explores human rights stories through performance. We are a company with a distinct, contemporary voice creating work of excellence across our four work strands: production, outreach, education and participation. Founded in 2003 by Sonja Linden, the company sees theatre as the natural medium to communicate stories that make real and relevant the impact of human rights issues on our everyday lives: a dedicated space to explore and understand stories that are often passed over or ignored. Through active involvement with human rights themes we creatively respond to key issues affecting our society and the world beyond.

They told the true stories of two women seeking asylum in the UK, one from the Cameroon and the other from Uganda. No props, no distractions. It was absolutely brilliant and hugely thought provoking.

If you get the chance to see them, do. Also, if you work in schools or colleges, a Council office, a community centre, or with asylum seekers, book them to come and deliver a performance or run a workshop.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Charity Finder

You can search the England & Wales Charity Commission website by using either the charity's number or name. However, the Charities Aid Foundation allows you to do so much more.

Looking for a charity in your area to volunteer with or make use of their services?

Head on over to the aptly named Search Tool and follow the steps. It allows you to filter charities by location, income, interests and size.

Monday, 5 August 2013



A while back, I covered the basics of SMART project planning.

The other day, I fell over a website that turned my world upside down. Apparently, all this time I - and the rest of the strategic development world - thought  SMART stood for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (or Realistic), Time-bound objectives.

We were wrong.

An 'inter-agency initiative launched in 2002 by a network of organisations and humanitarian practitioners,' have put us right on this front. It's actually: Standardised Monitoring Assessment in Relief and Transition

I thought I'd just point that out in case, like me, someone should find themselves slightly confused over which SMART methodology we're working to.

It might have been slightly smarter if they'd given their new initiative an acronym that wasn't already widely understood to mean something else. Again, harking back to the importance of naming your project

All the same, there's a free methodology manual and I'm sure it is very useful for  conducting the standardised surveys it was invented to assist with. Sort of like the MICs methodology, I think.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Wrong, Wrong, Wrong

Today's Voluntary Sector Humour focuses on a delightful little article in The Independent: British public wrong about nearly everything, survey shows

Research shows public opinion often deviates from facts on key social issues including crime, benefit fraud and immigration

If you'd like to find out what we're particularly wrong about, read on.