Businesses urged to help with small charity skills

With more and more pressures on all kinds of charities to improve or maximise their performance there is a danger that small charities are in danger of failing to meet the challenge due to a skills gap, according to the Foundation for Social Improvement.  The FSI is responding to this situation with an initiative to offer training courses and obtain help from the private sector.

The last FSI Skills Gap Survey (2012/2013) showed that small charities felt they had the greatest skills gaps in areas of fundraising, impact reporting and long term strategic planning. The FSI says this is a worrying trend as these skills link directly to the long term sustainability of the small charity sector.

Knowledge gained from the FSI's own research has become the basis for over 20 one day training courses which it is now offering to small charities.  These range from fundraising to leadership and impact measurement; deliver an annual workshop looking at back office skills such as strategy development and implementation, accounting and policy; and offer free tools to assess the needs of small charities.

However, the FSI is now asking for the private sector to get involved in developing the support available to small charities so they can continue to run their vital services. The FSI is calling on businesses to assess whether they can meet these skill gaps, either through mentoring, speaking at conferences or working with the FSI to develop training modules.

Small charities represent approximately 97% of the charities registered in the UK and exist to support a wide range of beneficiary groups, not just in the UK but across the globe.  The FSI says: "Small charities tend to be grass roots organisations which work directly with those in most need, they are trusted within the communities they serve and they touch all of our lives.

"With an estimated 33.5% of the UK population supported by a small charity it is in everyone’s interest that staff are supported and given access to the skills they need to do their work as efficiently and as effectively as possible."

Involvement by staff from businesses is a good alternative to cash support.  Says the FSI: "In a time when corporate budgets, as well as charity budgets, are under pressure, opening up other ways of supporting small charities is vital. Leaders in companies can do this by developing partnerships with small charities and sharing skills and knowledge that can be translated to the charitable sector. This will also bring huge rewards with corporate staff more engaged and more motivated – a win win for all."

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Managers and companies benefit from trustee roles

Getting On Board, the charity which encourages voluntary commitment by senior and middle managers through trusteeship, has released research that underlines the importance of trusteeship for professionals. At the same time the research establishes that the benefits of trusteeship are not confined to the individual, with instead employers benefiting from increased expertise, skills and stronger corporate social responsibility programmes.

The results reveal that for job seekers, trusteeship is more important than ever. 92% of trustees who are currently out of work said they felt being a trustee was building their professional skills and boosting their motivation. 73% of respondents said that a role on a charity board boosted their confidence.

Getting On Board points out that for ambitious workers, board level volunteering could provide the next step up the corporate ladder. Trusteeship has taught vital skills to 100% of respondents aged 18-24, with 65% of all trustees stating that a board volunteering role has improved their CV. A quarter of respondents (22%) even went so far as to say that they received a promotion as a result of trusteeship.

Trusteeship can also be an important weapon in cultivating female leaders. 74% of polled women improved in confidence thanks to being a trustee, and 38% had new leadership aspirations as a result.

The research shows board-level volunteering has considerable benefits for UK employers too. 85% of bosses said trusteeship is an effective and low cost way for staff to develop skills. 62% of bosses believe that firms which encourage trusteeships among employees positively raise their corporate responsibility profile.

Katherine Sparkes, chief executive of Getting On Board, says: “Our research highlights the many great things about being a trustee, from the opportunity to work with new people on new challenges, to gaining additional experience to help get ahead of the competition when it comes to career aspirations.

“Being a charity trustee does so much good for individuals, communities and charities. However, the many benefits for careers, causes, health and wealth are simply not being acknowledged widely enough. 85% of trustees don’t think volunteering opportunities are widely known.  With 98% of trustees saying they would recommend board-level volunteering, it is vital that we shout about these fantastic opportunities and the good they bring into all our lives.”

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Most charities failing to measure social impact

More than two thirds of charities risk missing out on new funding by not measuring the social impact of their work, according to a survey from accountancy firm Baker Tilly.

Almost half (49%) of the charities which took part in the accountancy firm's biennial Funding Challenge survey recognised that there was increased demand for social impact measurement from government and private funders, and nearly two thirds (64%) agreed that there is now an overt focus on outcomes in public sector commissioning. However, fewer than one third (31%) of respondents said that they were actively measuring their social impact.

A shift in the funding landscape has put more pressure on charities to demonstrate the value of their work. Part of this shift is being driven by the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012, which places a legal obligation on local authorities and other public bodies to consider the social good that may arise from a procurement exercise.

Baker Tilly says this means charities have to do more to measure and demonstrate the value of their work when bidding for public sector contracts. There is also a shift in government thinking towards payment by results, where the success of a contract will be judged on outcomes rather than outputs.

The survey found that of those charities which are using evidence of social impact to open up new opportunities, 41% expect to use it to attract new forms of social investment or to develop payment by results approaches. One in ten charities surveyed said they were considering using a social impact bond (SIB) to raise funds.

Jim Clifford, Baker Tilly’s head of public sector and non profit advisory services, says: "While less than a third of charities are currently measuring the social impact of their work, our survey found that of those which don’t, around half are planning to do so in the near future. This underlines the increasing demand among funders for quality information about the impact of a charity’s work, and reflects the changes in the way services are being procured by the public sector.

"There is an inherent risk that those charities which don’t measure their impact risk will miss out on winning contracts, securing funding and ultimately being able to deliver their much needed services to their clients."

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Opposition to charity fat cats

At a time when the salary levels of senior charity executives have come under fire in the media and the public at large and the "great and the good" of the charity sector seem to be in a state of perpetual denial about the criticism, a survey from research consultancy NPF Synergy reveals strong concern about the situation by politicians and charity workers themselves.

According to the NPF Synergy survey, almost half of MPs (47%) think it is "unacceptable" for charities to pay some staff over £100,000 a year, while over a third (35%) are in favour. Research amongst 480 charity staff showed 38% of them were also against it, with 47% in favour.

According to the NPF Synergy survey, almost half of MPs (47%) think it is "unacceptable" for charities to pay some staff over £100,000 a year, while over a third (35%) are in favour. Research amongst 480 charity staff showed 38% of them were also against it, with 47% in favour.

Over a quarter (27%) of the general public would be confident a charity would spend a donation well if they didn’t pay anyone over £100,000.

89% of Conservative MPs think it is "acceptable" for charities to provide frontline services instead of the Government, but only 56% of Labour MPs agree. Just 5% of Conservatives see it as unacceptable compared to 30% of Labour MPs

43% of charity workers are in favour of more public services delivery by charities, while 46% think that charities do a better job than the Government

Just 18% of Conservatives think a charity should pay its trustees compared to 36% of Labour MPs. Over half (51%) of the general public are against it.

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Health charities' partnerships to be extended

Accountancy firm Deloitte is to embark on another two years of its national partnership programme for three health charities - Alzheimer's Society, Mind and Prostate Cancer UK.   Ambitious fundraising targets for the year ahead include a target of £200,000 it is aiming to raise via the 280 employees taking part in the Royal Parks Foundation half marathon and “Ultra” events, in the firm’s first year as corporate sponsor. The new efforts come after a very intensive first year, mobilising the support of Deloitte staff.

David Barnes, managing partner for public policy at Deloitte, says: “The three charities we are currently supporting were selected by Deloitte employees, based on the impact we could have over the course of our three year partnership. To date we have raised over £640,000 and provided pro bono support to the value of £350,000 for the charities. Importantly, awareness of the issues they each address has also significantly increased across the firm.

 “Through our pro bono work, Deloitte’s people have already helped the charities to tackle some key organisational challenges. This will continue throughout the two years ahead. For many employees there is a personal connection to one or more of the charities and the incredible efforts that are made to raise money are reflective of the strong connection our people feel to the causes.” 

The three year partnership began in June 2013 and at the end of 12 months fundraising carried out by the firm’s employees has helped Alzheimer’s Society to deliver important research projects; supported the recruitment of an additional Infoline adviser for Mind, enabling the charity to take an extra 8,000 calls a year; enabled Prostate Cancer UK to deliver its Search and Rescue programme, helping the charity to identify 300,000 men in at risk groups.

Beyond fundraising, the pro bono projects delivered by Deloitte staff have been highlighted as one of the most valuable aspects of the programme to date. The charities recognise Deloitte’s ability to offer the time and support of dedicated relationship teams, as being a very distinctive contribution from a corporate partner.

For Alzheimer’s Society, Deloitte has provided expertise and guidance during the charity’s review of the National Dementia Strategy for England (NDSE). The NDSE, formed in 2009, provided a five year strategy to improve care and support for people with dementia and their families.

Deloitte is assisting with one of Mind’s broader strategic goals, helping people who are likely to develop mental health problems to stay well. Primarily, the firm has helped the charity develop an app for smartphones to provide support to the increasing number of people who seek mental health support online.

For Prostate Cancer UK the key pro bono aspect has been access to Deloitte employees’ expertise. Deloitte’s people have been able to review the charity’s financial processes and reduce its costs.

In addition, the three charities have benefited from Deloitte’s volunteering efforts, with three and a half hours a month available to every Deloitte employee to dedicate to volunteering. Over the last year, more than 3,100 Deloitte employees have been involved in volunteering activity, 90% of which has been skills-based.

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Lycamobile donate to Cricket United
A big cheque for cricket charities - left to right: Omar Khan, head of sponsorship at mobile call company Lycamobile; Paul Robin, CEO of the Lord's Taverners; Chris Tooley, CEO of Lycamobile; Jason Ratcliffe, assistant CEO of the Professional Cricketers' Association.

Mobile call donation for cricketing charity

Lycamobile, the provider of low cost international mobile calls, has continued its long standing support of Cricket United with a £5,000 donation. Cricket United is joint fundraising appeal that brings together charities the Lord’s Taverners, Chance to Shine and the PCA Benevolent Fund in an effort to raise money to support the wider cricket community. It has seen nearly £60,000 raised for the charities so far this year.

The money will further bolster the funds raised from the day to help the Lord’s Taverners give hundreds of disabled pupils across the UK the chance to represent their schools at competitive cricket. It will further empower Chance to Shine to give one thousand schoolchildren the opportunity to play and learn through cricket, and will further enable the PCA Benevolent Fund to continue to run a confidential helpline, providing advice and treatment to players suffering from mental health issues.

Lycamobile chairman Subaskaran Allirajah says: “Throughout our partnership with Cricket United we have been consistently impressed with its people, its proficiency  and its passion.  When it comes to making charitable donations, we look for charities which share our vision for a healthy connected community. Our work with them thus far has been incredibly rewarding and this is a cause we are incredibly proud to invest in.”

This donation came as the final part of the summer cricket campaign which saw Lycamobile sponsor both Surrey County Cricket Club and UK Test Match Grounds while also launching the first ever cricket focused SIM card.

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DHL send bikes to Madagascar for free
Awaiting their health worker riders in Madagascar - 880 bicycles shipped in by DHL on behalf of Transaid.

Malagassy health workers get on their bikes

Logistics company DHL has shipped 880 bicycles from the UK to Madagascar free of charge to help local community health workers deliver medical care in rural areas. The company shipped the bikes more than 5,000 miles around the world on behalf of international development charity Transaid, which is pioneering a number of projects in the country to help improve people’s access to health facilities.

The bicycles, sourced with the help of Transaid’s partner charity Re-Cycle (Bikes to Africa), are part of a programme which helps local health workers reach more patients and have resources for delivering medical care in remote regions. Before Transaid began supplying bikes, together with a package of training on safe riding and maintenance techniques, health workers had to make difficult journeys through challenging terrain on foot to provide medical care.

Graham Inglis, chief development officer of DHL Supply Chain, says: “We are committed to supporting Transaid’s life-saving work across the African continent. I’m therefore delighted to confirm that, through the DHL UK Foundation, we have also successfully secured two years’ funding for Transaid’s Driver Training programme which will both provide our employees with development opportunities and enable them to volunteer their expertise to make a real difference to this much needed programme.”

DHL became a corporate member of Transaid in 2013 and has supported the charity by providing a range of pro bono services; plus it recently donated a tanker trailer to aid driver training in Tanzania.

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Time to question the concept of CIFs

It's time to take a hard look at the merits of Common Investment Funds (CIFs) as they now come under the dual regulation of the Financial Conduct Authority and the Charity Commission, and there are proposed changes in their regulation, says a white paper from Quilter Cheviot Investment Management. Also, an opinion survey of charity trustees and executives about CIFs carried out for the investment firm's white paper doesn't make decisively favourable reading for supporters of the concept.

However, close reading of both the white paper and the survey reveal that neither are able to deliver a knock-out blow to CIFs.

As the Quilter Cheviot white paper points out, Commons Investment Funds are UK investment vehicles, similar to authorised unit trusts in structure, originally appearing in 1960 under Section 22 of The Charities Act. They are themselves registered charities, set up by schemes made by the Charity Commission. They are not available to retail investors, but enable charities to invest in sector specific pooled funds, across a range of asset classes including equities, cash, fixed interest, property and hedge funds.

There are currently 47 UK CIFs which are now estimated by State Street Global Services to be managing close to £12 billion in charity assets. The Charity Commission highlighted that the 2012 annual returns suggested over 13,000 charities invested in CIFs.

Historically, CIFs have proved especially attractive to small and medium sized charities, primarily due to the diversification they can provide for smaller investable sums through their pooled nature. They have also found favour through lower headline fees and tax exemptions including those relating to capital gains tax and stamp duty on equity purchases. Often the minimum sums required to access discretionary or bespoke investment services have been much higher – in the region of £200,000 - £500,000.

Quilter Cheviot's research shows that while CIFs are still widely used, they do not account for the majority of investments by charities; a total of 46% of survey respondents currently invested in CIFs.

In performance terms, 39% of respondents said their charity’s portfolio performed better than expected, 35% performed as expected. Almost one in five, however, said they did not know how their portfolio had performed against expectation, with 6% saying it had underperformed.

Knowledge about CIFs among the charities questioned was patchy with more than half (52%) of charity executives underestimating the number of CIFs (47) which UK charities are currently able to invest in and 21% per cent overestimating the amount. There was also confusion about who regulates CIFs – 41% of respondents said the FCA alone regulates CIFs.

37% of charities surveyed were not sure which benchmark their investment manager uses to measure the success of their charity's investment portfolio.

The white paper takes a considerable look at the ethical investment aspects of CIFs. It notes that around one in two charities have an ethical investment policy, according to research published in 2012 by the Charity Finance Group and Ethical Investment Research Services. Figures for the proportion of UK CIFs which have an ethical investment criteria have historically been hard to trace.

When the survey asked charity executives what percentage of CIFs they would expect to employ some form of “ethical screening” or criteria for ethical investment, it received a wide range of responses. More than a third (34%) thought that 0-25% of CIFs would screen, almost a quarter (24%) thought between 25-50%, the same number (24%) thought between 75% and 100%, and 17% suggested between 50% and 75%.

The white paper concludes that historically CIFs can offer a useful way for charities to invest, but the research has highlighted some weaknesses that need to be addressed if the market is to retain its investment appeal. There is a need for the CIF market to become more transparent in terms of regulation, accountability, benchmarking and application of ethical criteria.  Without these improvements, the risk to the CIF sector is that charities and their advisers will continue to switch to other types of investment vehicles on offer.

William Read, head of head of charities at Quilter Cheviot, says: “Charities which may have chosen CIFs as a relatively simple off the shelf solution to their investment requirements should be reviewing that policy and considering whether there are other solutions which might better suit their purposes."

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Northern Rock Foundation to close

The Northern Rock Foundation has announced that, after 17 years of grant making, it will close its current grant programmes at the end of 2014 and begin to prepare for the foundation’s likely eventual closure.  

The foundation explains: "In May 2014 Virgin Money made a generous offer to us of £1 million per year for five years, to be matched by the foundation raising £3 million per year from the private sector locally. This was considered very seriously by our trustees.

"Virgin Money and Northern Rock Foundation together looked at many different ways in which this offer could help to generate an income for the foundation including reviewing the current funding environment and canvassing views from private, public and voluntary sector bodies. Eventually it was concluded that, given the existing charitable commitments and links with other local funders of many other businesses in the region, this was not a viable option for the foundation."

The foundation's trustees believe there are now no funding routes left to pursue, (although they would be open to viable approaches) and will therefore proceed with the scaling down of the foundation's work.

The foundation’s remaining funds will be used to help the  lives of children and young people in the region, and also to support the development and sustainability of voluntary organisations.

The trustees will decide on their final plans in the following months, but it is their immediate intention to support the opening of a Youth Zone project in the north east, and will be working with businessman and philanthropist Sir Peter Vardy and  the charity Onside Youth Zone, alongside Virgin Money, to achieve this.

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Testicular cancer awareness campaign

Round Table Great Britain & Ireland has launched an ongoing social media campaign to raise awareness of testicular cancer in young men, following the diagnosis of several members of the organisation.

Initially thought up by Lichfield man Julian Webb and members of his local table three years ago, the campaign asks men across the country to examine themselves for signs of the disease. Webb says: "Following my successful treatment for stage one testicular cancer I felt extremely lucky and just wanted to get back to my normal life, spending time with my family.

“More recently I attended the vigil of Stephen Sutton MBE at Lichfield Cathedral and felt very moved and humbled to see what an amazing affect one individual can have on a nation of people. He was a local lad and it was then that I decided the time was right to do something to raise awareness of my particular illness and help other young men catch it early for a better chance of a full recovery."

Testicular cancer affects around 2,300 men aged 18-45 every year in the UK alone, the same age group that Round Table targets for its membership. The organisation has therefore spread the message to all of its members, to get them to spread the message wider into the community.

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LAWYERS WALK FOR CHARITY.  Over the last 10 years London's lawyers have now walked over £4m for charity, with over £550,000 being raised so far this year by 8,200 participants in the London Legal Walk.  This is organised by the London Legal Support Trust, a charity which was established in 2004 to raise funds for specialist free legal advice. It is sponsored by the Law Society.

INSURANCE SUPPORT. Childhood bereavement charity Winston's Wish is to receive financial support from insurance company Sun Life, which will donate £1 every time a first free quote is requested for the company's new Family Insurance product.

CORPORATE PARTNERSHIP. Neurodegenerative disease charity the Multiple System Atrophy Trust has entered into a corporate partnership with celebrity and personalised mask company Mask-arade, founded in 2008 by Dragon's Den participants Ray Duffy, Chris O'Nyan and Dean Walton. Every personalised mask that Mask-arade produces will feature the MSA Trust logo and a unique text-to-donate code.  Duffy says: "We are supporting the MSA Trust after my father-in-law was diagnosed with MSA."   

Intestinal birth defect charity the LJS Foundation has received some £5,000 from the Liz and Terry Bramall Charitable Trust which supports charities in Yorkshire.  LJS was set up by ex Sheffield United and current Leeds United striker Billy Sharp and his wife Jade Fair after their two-day old son died as a result of gastroschisis, where the baby's intestines grow on the outside of the body.

APPOINTMENTS.  Liverpool Football Club has appointed Andrea Cooper as head of Liverpool FC Foundation, the club's official charity.  She was chief executive of youth development organisation UpRising.  The Voluntary Organisations Disability Group has promoted Rhidian Hughes to be its chief executive from a senior consulting role. Mencap has appointed well known Derek Lewis as its chair of trustees.  Apart from many senior roles in the charity sector, he has been chief executive of Granada Group and director general of the Prison Service.  Young people's charity the Youth Federation has appointed Jim Bisset as chairman of trustees.  He is a former chief executive of sportswear company Umbro International. The Insurance Charities has appointed Adrienne O'Sullivan as its president in succession to John Greenway.  She is CEO Ireland for DAS Legal Expenses Insurance.


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