NEWS - section 2

This buff-tailed bumblebee queen is just one of the UK's 25 species of bumblebees which the Bumblebee Conservation Trust is seeking to protect with sales from its online clothing and accessories store via a white label clothing system.
This Bumblebee Conservation Trust t-shirt was the result of the charity's design being printed on blanks by the third part system which also ultimately handles the despatch to purchasers.

Putting a real buzz into charity marketing

Seeking to put a real buzz into its awareness and fundraising efforts has led one charity to offer supporters the opportunity to purchase its own-brand clothing and accessories via an online store run by a (third party) white label clothing system. The Bumblebee Conservation Trust has worked with the Teemill platform to produce its own BCT branded products for purchase by its supporters with items being delivered both in the UK and globally. Teemill organises clothing merchandise stores for charities which they link to as their own shop.

Roo Cleland of the Bumblebee Conservation Trust says: "Working with Teemill not only helps raise awareness with their eye-catching designs but also helps to raise vital funds for bumblebee conservation, as each time something from the clothing and accessories range is purchased, we receive a donation. The website that has been created for us represents our brand, ethos, and sustainability and environmental credentials. Ordering is so easy.

"We have a large and dedicated audience of supporters, who are as passionate as we are about the protection of bumblebees. We are hoping to encourage as many people as possible to join us wearing a beautifully designed piece of clothing or by simply using a bumblebee tote bag for their shopping, to show support for bumblebee conservation. We have wanted to offer a range of bumblebee merchandise for many years but have never had the time or resources to make our dream a reality."

BCT's design ideas were originally uploaded onto the platform with ultimately the building of a fully customised webstore (optimised for selling clothing) with integrated cart and payment, where it was able to display all its products. When its shop makes a sale, the Teemill kicks in to print the design and deliver the next day in the UK - the profit being split between the charity and Teemill. There is no cost to uploading a new design so BCT could use it to trial variations before committing to a large volume screen print. Customers can order one item at a time.

Says Cleland: "Our supporters using our merchandise will help start conversations and help us reach out to a new audience of bumblebee guardians. Teemill has enabled us to raise awareness, increase donations and help save the sound of summer."

Universities successfully modernising marketing strategies

International higher education network QS Digital Solutions has published a report, Digital Marketing Trends in Higher Education, analysing key trends surrounding the digital marketing strategies of universities worldwide. The report is the first of its kind, and seeks to establish the strategic decisions university marketing teams are making regarding their digital practices.

According to the QS Digital Solutions report, Email remains the most used digital channel by higher education marketers, with 73% of respondents citing email among their most used digital channels. University marketing teams are devoting efforts to reaching students on younger media platforms: 70% of respondents cite social media among their top five most used digital channels. These two platforms are followed by website design and optimisation, named by 61.8% of participants.

32.9% higher education marketers intend to focus the highest proportion of their attentions to website design and optimisation, more than for any other channel. 25.9% of respondents cite website design and optimisation as the most successful of all their digital marketing techniques in 2015.

QS says these findings show that marketers are generally in sync with their student audiences, and the report indicates generally successful strategic planning by digital marketing teams at tertiary institutions.

Almost half (46%) of respondents expect their digital budgets to increase year on year in 2016. However, the most frequent constraint reported by digital marketers is budget; 37.6% of respondents expect this to be their main constraint this year, followed by lack of resources (27%).

Finally, Asia is generally a key target market for university recruiters, with more respondents citing it as a high priority than any other region, and indicating that digital marketing is on the rise in terms of scope as well as spending for 2016.

QS says the move towards website optimisation as a means of improving student recruitment – unsurprisingly the primary motive for using digital marketing channels – can be perceived as a direct result of students increasingly using mobile and tablet devices to research and interact with universities.

Previous research conducted by the company shows numerous candidates struggling to find the information they need online. Consequently, students report being "unable or unwilling" to apply to an institution as a result. With this in mind, the report’s findings indicate that digital marketing departments worldwide are recognising the desires and demands on their student audience, and are responding accordingly. 

Making bouncy castles safe for charity outdoor events

An absolute "must" for outdoor family charity events appears to be a bouncy castle for children, albeit there have been accidents with these fun items. So charities would be advised to read Ecclesiastical Insurance's ten top tips to help churches, charities and schools keep children safe as they enjoy the fun at fairs, fetes and barbecues.

Ecclesiastical’s top ten tips for hiring and using a bouncy castle are as follows:

  1. Hire the equipment from a reputable company, with adequate public liability insurance - at least £2,000,000.
  2. If possible, arrange for the hire company to set up the equipment for you. If not, follow the instructions in the operating manual, particularly guidance on siting and anchorage.
  3. Check that the inflatable has been manufactured to British Standard (BS EN 14960) requirements. A label will tell you if it has, as well as when it was made, how many people can use it and what heights they should be – make sure these instructions are followed.
  4. If the castle is over a year old, ask for proof that it has been tested by a competent person - usually by those registered with PIPA Inflatable Play Inspection or the Amusement Devices Inspection Procedures Scheme.
  5. If an electrical blower is provided, check that it has been inspected at least annually.
  6. Provide and maintain any additional equipment which might be required, e.g. crowd barriers.
  7. Get the hiring company to supervise its use for you. Otherwise, make sure you are given detailed instructions on how to do this properly.
  8. When castles are inflated, make sure there are always enough competent people supervising their use, following any operating instructions that have been provided.
  9. Make sure that the inflatable will not be used if the weather is likely to be inclement, particularly in high winds.
  10. While the castle is in use, make sure any necessary checks are completed. Where any defects are identified, make sure these are rectified immediately, or keep children safe until this has been done.

Church schools warned to keep close watch

Law firm Lee Bolton Monier-Williams is warning that while the Government has done a "U-turn" on its announcement that all state-funded schools will have to become academies, those which have not converted to academies will need to be aware of the situation to ensure they are not affected.

Lee Bolton Monier-Williams points out that at the end of February 2016, an average of 24% of state-funded schools had converted to academies. The range is extreme, from Camden with only 3% of 62 schools converted to NE Lincs with 79% of 61 schools.  The current announcement states that 104 schools have been directed to convert since the Education and Adoption Act was passed.

Says Simon Foulkes, education consultant at LBMW: "It was understood up to 400 schools could come to be directed in this way and therefore we might assume, at the current rate of progress, that the remaining 300 directions will be completed before the end of the year.

"However, those directed conversions do not include the required interventions for coasting schools or schools yet to suffer an adverse Ofsted outcome. So one might well expect hundreds more directed conversions to follow from the enacted legislation to date."

Given the U-turn announcement on 6 May, and the DfE statement of the same date ("the Government is committed to every school becoming an academy"), LBMW observes it is now apparent that a further category of directed conversions is anticipated.

That will be those schools within a local authority which has either requested that all its remaining maintained schools become academies, because it can no longer sustain its role as a provider of maintained schools; or where the LA has been identified as "fail(ing) to meet a minimum performance threshold across its schools" and all its schools are converted to academies as a result.

Comments Foulkes: "One can therefore anticipate a continuing and significant pressure for a) the conversion of underperforming schools; and b) the achievement of the Government's declared aim of converting every school – though we have yet to see how strong the pressure for this will be in reality."

LBMW advises that there are many implications to be noted and watched for, saying that to some extent the simple policy needs to be that each diocese needs to continue to make strategic plans to achieve its goals. The revised approach means there will need to be a way for the DfE to require all schools in weak local authorities (or ones in which most schools have already become academies) to become academies.

Dioceses should be watching carefully to see what statutory place, if any, is retained in interim legislation for church schools. Dioceses will still have to plan for how to handle a situation in which most if not all of their schools are academies.

Half of British men do nothing for charity

Almost half of men in the UK do not support a good cause or get involved in social action in a typical month, according to the Charities Aid Foundation. British men are failing to close the gender generosity gap as they continue to lag behind women in volunteering, donating and sponsoring. Three in five women (60%) got involved in some form of charitable behaviour in a typical month in 2015, compared with 52% of men.

The most popular way for people in the UK to support a charity was donating money – done by two in five people (39%) in a typical month - followed by donating goods (20%) and sponsoring someone (9%).

CAF’s annual report on charitable behaviour, UK Giving, also reveals that the youngest generation are the least involved in supporting good causes with less than half of young adults doing so in a typical month (43%). People of pensionable age were nearly twice as likely to have given money to charity, with 44% of over 65s having done so in the past month, compared with 23% of people aged 16 to 24.

UK Giving estimates that Britons donated a total of £9.6 billion to charity in 2015, suggesting that overall levels of giving may have fallen in the past year. The report from CAF also found that:

  • Four in five people in the UK (79%) got involved in at least one form of charitable action in 2015. London and the West Midlands are the only regions where less than three quarters participated
  • Popular causes: Children’s charities were the most widely supported (30%), followed by medical research (29%) and animals (22%).
  • Typical donations: £14 is the median average charitable donation and cash is still the most common way for people to give, accounting for 55% of donations. Those most likely to donate are women, middle or upper middle class and aged over 45. Less than half of young people aged 16 – 24 (48%) donated to charity last year.
  • Charity shops: Almost half of Britons have donated goods in the past year (46%) with one in five (20%) doing so in a typical month. Women are almost twice as likely to do this as men (26% v 14% in a typical month).
  • Volunteering: One in seven people (13%) volunteered for a charity in 2015. While young people are least likely to give money, they are the most likely to give their time for free, with 19% of people aged 16 to 24 having done so. By comparison, one in ten (11%) people aged 65 or over volunteered for a charity.
  • Sponsoring: One in three people (32%) sponsored someone for charity in 2015. Women are more likely to be sponsors but give smaller amounts (£11.38) than men (£15.13) on average. People give most to sponsored events for hospitals and hospices, which attract an average sponsorship of £34.

CAF chief executive John Low says: “While we should rightly be proud of this track record, many of us will be a little disappointed to see that men are still struggling to keep up with women when it comes to acts of generosity. Charities need to work harder to motivate men to back good causes and, importantly in the long term, find new and better ways to get people involved in charitable giving at every age."

Importance of phone payments for charities highlighted

Donate (the brand of charity the National Funding Scheme), in conjunction with YouGov, has produced research which shows that charities need to make more effort to facilitate payment by mobiles for people in the street or in other situations where up until now cash donations have been sought.

The Donate/YouGove research finds that 37% of all GB adults carry £10 of cash or less, with 15% of those between 25-34 carrying no cash at all. Moreover, 74% of adults hold £30 or less in their wallets, 60% hold £20 or less and 8% hold no cash at all. This shows a further reduction in those not holding cash, as a similar survey from 2013 said only 5% of UK adults had no physical money.

Donate argues that this research, looking at the holding of cash against a range of demographic variables, supports the concerns of charities which rely on donations. Whilst retailers have moved to provide non-cash means of paying for goods and services, charities remain some way behind.

Philippa Esson of Donate says: “This research underscores the importance of charities making use of the one device that all of us have; a mobile phone, for collecting donations. No longer can charities rely on their donors having cash in their pockets.”

Charities cite loss of funding as biggest risk

A report from accountancy firm Grant Thornton UK, Transmitting trust through good governance, highlights the need for charities to address concerns around transparency and governance so as to tackle the loss of trust in the sector following the demise of Kids’ Company, the case of Olive Cooke and the Etherington Review.

In its fourth review of governance in the charity sector, Grant Thornton examined the disclosures made in the trustees’ reports of the top 100 charities in England, Wales and Scotland. The review found that the most commonly cited risk was related to loss or availability of key contracts/funding streams. This was disclosed by 50% of the top 100 charities (2015: 47%). This figure has increased by more than a fifth in the last two years and is five times the figure reported in 2013.

While the number of charities reporting the risks associated with the state of the economy has fallen gradually over recent years (2013: 58%; 2014: 43%; 2015: 34%; 2016: 14%), new risks have emerged in the sector following additional media and regulatory scrutiny. Over a quarter (27%) of charities reported the retention of staff was a key concern, up from 13% in 2015. This might reflect an improved labour market and challenges in recruiting talent from outside the sector.

REBUILDING TRUST IN THE SECTOR THROUGH GOOD GOVERNANCE. The report found that some charities are making efforts to report on those areas identified as potential weaknesses for the self-regulating sector. However, they still have some way to go, particularly around the recruitment and skills of trustee boards. These areas include:

  • The length of trustee involvement: only 26% of the top 100 charities report on the length of their chair’s involvement. Of these the average length of involvement is about 3.5 years, well below the recommended limits.
  • The skills of trustees: While many charity websites give details, only 17% included information in their accounts beyond what is required by law.
  • Recruitment processes: almost a quarter (23%) have no information on recruitment or appointment of trustees.

DIVERSITY OF BOARDS. The diversity of boards is still a concern for many, says Grant Thornton. It is generally accepted that a diverse board can help ensure that a charity has an appropriate range of skills and experience at its disposal, and can provide a link to the charity's beneficiary group. Most charities (63%) disclose the existence of a diversity policy, with 30% of the top 100 including a good or detailed diversity policy, an increase on the previous year (2015: 20%).

The report found that within the top 100 charities, where it is possible to determine from the disclosure of names, 33% of trustees are women (2015: 28%). Only two boards have no female members, and women represent at least half the board on 15 boards (an increase from nine in 2015).

MEASURING IMPACT. As the demand for transparency about funding, trustee involvement, and the tactics they employ to raise funds, increases, charities are looking for new ways to demonstrate the impact they have. Some charities are moving away from simply reporting on their outputs and outcomes, and are instead adopting impact reporting as a way to measure their performance. The report found that 16% of charities published a separate impact report in the last 12 months.

Impact reporting requires more complex monitoring frameworks, or an academic evidence base, as well as needing boards to take a much longer term view. However, charities are using it not only to ensure they can fend off any reputational risks by demonstrating more clearly what they can do, but to keep them focused on what their purpose as a charity is, and also to engage employees by sharing with them how their contributions make a difference.

There continues to be a significant amount of debate and challenge about how to measure and report on impact, with some innovative thinking emerging.

Carol Rudge, partner and head of not for profit at Grant Thornton UK, says: “Demonstrating transparency is crucial for those charities looking to rebuild trust with donors, employees, the public and wider stakeholders. Our report found some encouraging signs of charities trying to communicate more transparently through their annual reports. However, there is always more progress that can be made.

“With conversations and consultations turning to whether the sector should move to an opt-in model for fundraising, charities must be transparent and clear on their governance measures. Charities have already identified loss of funds and contracts as their key risk, and some commentators have indicated that if opt-in fundraising becomes mandatory, the attrition rate from regular donors could rise to 70%.

"If charities can’t provide robust and reliable information on those areas scrutinised by the media, public and regulators, they could find it difficult to keep funding and contracts. Charities must demonstrate that they are in control and focussed on getting the best value from external funds."

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