This is where we’ll post third sector news and important updates that are useful for your organisation.

Charity Digital Code

Originally sent in an email from Media Trust:

This week sees the launch of the first Charity Digital Code of Practice. 

The code, now open for consultation aims to help charities, big and small, by providing them with a framework, best practice guidelines and principles of digital to work towards.

Author: Steering Member
Categories: News

Free digital skills training for UK Charities

Originally sent in an email from Media Trust:

On Thursday 21 June we launched our new UK-wide programme of digital skills training, with support from Google Digital Garage, which will be delivered through local masterclasses, mentoring and online learning.

The free half-day masterclasses will run from September 2018 to June 2019 and visit over a dozen locations across the UK. Sessions will cover topics ranging from Social Media Strategy to Building a Digital Marketing Plan. During each event, you’ll have the opportunity to receive advice from a range of media partners and communications experts as well as learning from other charities.

Read about the launch here and look out for regional dates which will be released shortly.


Author: Steering Member
Categories: News

Havens Hospice issues warning after men posing as fundraisers spotted across Essex

Originally Posted by The Echo:

A local hospice is urging the public to be vigilant after reports of men posing as fundraisers for the charity.

The two men are claiming to work for Havens Hospices which incorporates Little Havens Hospice in Thundersley, Fair Havens Hospice in Westcliff, and The J’s Hospice in Witham.

They have targeted two supporters, in Rayleigh and then in Chelmsford – where they have unsuccessfully tried to pick up and replace collection tins for the charity that cares for children, young people and adults with life-limiting illnesses.

Carmel Hudson, community fundraising manager, said: “In May, we were informed by a supporter in Rayleigh that they had been targeted by two fraudsters.

“It appears that two men have sourced old collection tins to try and trick supporters into swapping their full tins for empty ones.

“Thankfully our supporter noticed that the men didn’t have formal identification and that the seal was broken on the tin; so contacted Havens Hospices and the police.

“We’ve now been informed by a supporter in Chelmsford that they’ve also been targeted by one man claiming to be there to swap the collection tins.

“We believe that he is one of the men from the original incident in Rayleigh.

“We have raised this matter with the Police and urge our supporters to be vigilant, our fundraisers always wear formal identification and the tins will always be sealed; so if you are approached by someone claiming to be a fundraiser for Havens who does not have ID or the tin they try to give you has a broken seal please report it to us or the Police as soon as possible.”

Bruce Burgess, Essex Police said: “Essex Police are investigating unauthorised attempts to take charity boxes from shops and other premises.

“We urge anyone being told to handover their donation boxes to ask to see identification. If you are still suspicious please call the charity or the police.

“We will not tolerate the generosity of the community being abused by the selfishness and greed of a few.”

If you have any information regarding this story or see anything suspicious please contact Essex Police on 101 referencing: 42/68891/18

Author: Steering Member
Categories: News

International charity leaders agree code of ethics for fundraising

Originally published by charitytimes:

Written by Lauren Weymouth

Leaders from national fundraising associations around the world have agreed on a code of ethics for the sector.

The fundraising leaders gathered at the International Fundraising Summit, hosted by the Institute of Fundraising in London today following three days of the IoF’s annual fundraising convention.

Delegates approved a revised version of the International Statement of Ethical Principles, which outlines an ethical approach for fundraisers and is centred on shared principles for fundraising, which are aimed to be rooted in honesty, respect, integrity, transparency and responsibility.

The Summit was designed for leaders from around the world to reflect and discuss common opportunities, challenges and solutions for developing fundraising as well as sharing general insight from across the globe.

“I’m delighted to welcome the international fundraising community to London to sign the International Statement of Ethical Principles,” IoF chief executive Peter Lewis said.

“It’s an important symbol of international cooperation across the fundraising community and recognises that wherever supporters are asked for money, it should always happen to a high standard and according to ethical principles.

“I’m proud that the IoF is supporting this work which contributes to the delivery of excellent standards of fundraising across the world.”

You can read the full agreement here.

Author: Steering Member
Categories: News

Helen Stephenson: Charity auditors’ compliance with new rules ‘not good enough’

Originally published by charitytimes:

Written by Lauren Weymouth

Charity auditors’ initial responses to new reporting rules have been ‘disappointing’ and have raised ‘serious concerns’, Charity Commission CEO Helen Stephenson has said.

Speaking at the ICAEW Charity Conference last week, Stephenson said the updated guidance for auditors, published by the Commission following the collapse of Kids Co, which encourage charity auditors’ to flag matters of material significance in their audit reports, have been “just not good enough”.

Following the collapse of Kids Company, the Charity Commission updated its guidance to auditors, extending the list of reportable matters and encouraging charity auditors to alert the Commission to matters of material significance to prevent instances like this reoccurring.

However, Stephenson said: “We were disappointed when we tested compliance with the new rules. We found fewer than one in four auditors alerted us to matters of material significance identified in their audit reports.

“Of 114 auditors who gave us audit opinions, containing information they were required to report to us in the six months to October 2017, only 28 did so. To be frank, this is just not good enough.

“In fact, it’s a serious concern to us and we’ve been working in partnership with the ICAEW and others to raise awareness of this new compliance,” she added.

The Charity Commission CEO, who has been in post for a year, explained that rebuilding public trust “does not begin and end with explaining ourselves to the public, as important as that is”.

She explained it also requires charities to adhere to “high standards of conduct and behaviour in the first place”, which means being “true to the purpose and mission, ethos and values” of each charity.

“Finance professionals play a crucial role in that respect, both in their role of driving strategies within charities, ensuring a tight focus on mission and rigorous management as auditors and examiners of charities.”

Author: Steering Member
Categories: News

Volunteering for a healthy mind and body

Originally published by charitytimes:

Written by Dr Nicola Davies
June/July 2017

Psychology and health research are increasingly showing the positive impact of volunteering on the well-being of volunteers. Indeed, evidence suggests the benefits of volunteering are vast and can touch all areas of our life – from the sense of purpose that comes with being involved in a meaningful activity, improved cognitive function, and increased social interaction.1 Benefits can even be attributed to volunteering in an outdoor setting specifically.

Contact with nature

Much research is being conducted into the effects of environmental volunteering. Benefits such as increased time in natural surroundings and more physical exercise are unique to those volunteering outside, and these in turn can have a positive impact on the mental health of volunteers.

Research indicates that contact with nature in outdoor volunteering has positive benefits for both mental and physical health. This has been attributed to increased physical activity and reduced stress levels.2 Furthermore, it has been found that hands-on interaction with nature through volunteering can help individuals suffering from mental illness to reintegrate into society.3

A study into the mood effects of exercise found that those who exercised in an outdoor setting experienced greater improvements in mood, attributed by participants to the restorative and calming effect of greenspace.4

Sense of purpose

Meaningful occupation and contribution to society are both necessary for a person’s well-being. The research shows that many volunteers attribute a sense of achievement and meaning to the work they undertake. Indeed, studies have repeatedly shown that volunteers, no matter their age, gain a sense of purpose and improved quality of life through their volunteering activities.2,3 Volunteering has also been associated with increased confidence and sense of achievement.5

In a study on individuals with mild or moderate dementia, Dr Daniel George of Penn State University in the US found that volunteers reported a renewed sense of purpose and improved quality of life in comparison with those who didn’t undertake volunteering.9

Creative freedom

It has been argued that volunteering can only be considered leisure if the sense of obligation is balanced with creative freedom, which is an intrinsic component of well-being.5,6 Volunteering has also been shown to have a significant positive impact on an individual’s satisfaction with both the amount and use of their leisure time, and many volunteers, especially young people, consider volunteering a time to have fun and make new friends.2,5,7

While volunteering in nature has been strongly correlated with reduced stress levels due to the restorative nature of the environment, Dr George’s research shows outdoor volunteering is not alone in its stress-relieving properties. He shares that the most important finding from his own research with dementia patients volunteering in schools was the significant decrease in stress levels of those who undertook regular volunteering compared to those who did not.

Improved cognitive function

Dr Yannick Griep, assistant professor at University of Calgary in Canada, and his colleagues looked at the role of volunteering in reducing the likelihood of a dementia diagnosis. “Previous studies found evidence for the protective role of physical activity, cognitive activity, or social interactions in lowering the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia,” Dr Griep says. “We decided to focus on volunteering because voluntary work is a prototypical activity that combines physical and cognitive activity and social interactions in such a way that it resembles a paid job.”

Dr Griep and his colleagues found that those who volunteered regularly reported improved cognitive function and decreased use of anti-dementia medication. They were also more active both physically and cognitively. “Our results clearly indicate that constant volunteering, for at least one hour per week every week, significantly reduces the likelihood of being diagnosed with dementia 2 years and 4 years after being retired,” he says. Participants also reported significantly fewer problems remembering things, fewer problems concentrating, less difficulty making decisions, and less difficulty thinking clearly. “Based on our results,” says Dr Griep, “we would advise everybody who retires to volunteer at least one hour per week and to keep up this voluntary work on a steady basis, every week ideally. By engaging in voluntary work, older people are able to access what is called the ‘latent benefits of work’ (social interaction, daily time structure, social status, meaningful contributions to society) that would otherwise be lost when you retire from a paid job.”

It isn’t just older people who notice cognitive and physical improvements due to volunteering. Students have also reported that volunteering improves their physical health, skillset, and career opportunities.2,5,8 According to Dr Griep, research demonstrates the neurological underpinnings of being physically, cognitively, and socially active – and volunteering is one way to achieve all three of these regardless of age.

“Engaging in activities that require cognitive capacities has been found to increase the use of cognitive skills and functional reorganisation, and induced neurogenesis [the birth of new neurons in the brain], synaptogenesis [the formation of synapses between neurons], and cortical plasticity. It, thus, seems that there is a neurological underlying explanation for the findings we reported in our study,” explains Dr Griep.

Social connection

There is a significant body of research into the positive effects of volunteering on social connection. Volunteering is fundamentally a social activity. Not only do volunteers form relationships with each other and the volunteering organisation, but they also interact with other members of the community. It is important to note, however, that these relationships are not always positive, with exclusion and frustration often being experienced alongside improved social skills, community relationships, and social cohesion.3,6,11

Overall, however, evidence suggests a positive link between volunteering and social well-being. One large study found that 51 per cent of young volunteers began to socialise with people from different backgrounds due to volunteering.3 Another study showed that social interaction and integration into campus society was the most important benefit for student volunteers.5

Altruistic contribution

Volunteering balances community contribution and personal attainment in a form of ‘reciprocal altruism.’ Volunteers provide assistance and support to members of the community and the organisations or charities they work for, while the volunteers themselves receive positive benefits for their personal health and well-being.

Research has found the values of altruism and humanitarianism to be important motivations for voluntary work, alongside gaining a practical understanding of skills and improving career prospects.5,8 Volunteering is not only a group accomplishment, but also reflects personal effort, so altruism is realised by both the individual and the community. Dr George advocates ‘intergenerational volunteering,’ which can be seen as a form of reciprocal altruism. In his own research, retired people entered schools to help children, with participants not only experiencing positive improvements to their own well-being, but also providing much-needed assistance to children. According to Dr George, “Volunteering in a school is generative – it creates value and adds to our community fabric. I think it would be interesting to examine the benefits of intergenerational interactions on children over time since there is reciprocity in that relationship.”

Holistic benefits

A wealth of research suggests that volunteering is no longer an activity that needs to be seen as entirely altruistic. By giving our time and energy to others, we can benefit too – psychologically, cognitively, socially, and physically. Volunteering is good for everyone involved, regardless of age. The question is how charities can communicate these benefits and help people help them and help themselves.

Dr Nicola Davies is a freelance journalist

1. Molsher, R. & Townsend, M. (2016). Improving wellbeing and environmental stewardship through volunteering in nature. EcoHealth, (13): 151.
2. O’Brien, L., Townsend, M. & Ebden, M. (2010). Doing something positive: Volunteers’ experiences of the well-being benefits derived from practical conservation activities in nature. Voluntas, (21): 525-545.
3. O’Brien, L., Burls, A., Townsend, M. & Ebden, M. (2011). Volunteering in nature as a way of enabling people to reintegrate into society. Perspectives in Public Health, March 131(2): 71-81. Retrieved from
4. Peacock, J., Hine, R. & Pretty, J. (2007). Got the blues, then find some greenspace: The mental health benefits of green exercise activities and green care. MIND Week Report, Centre for Environment and Society, University of Essex, February, 2007.
5. Qian, X.L. & Yarnal, C. (2010). Benefits of volunteering as campus tour guides: The rewards of serious leisure revisited. Leisure/Loisir, 34(2): 127-144.
6. Gallant, K., Arai, S. & Smale, B. (2013). Serious leisure as an avenue for nurturing community. Leisure Sciences, 35(4): 320-336.
7. Binder, M. (2015). Volunteering and life satisfaction: A closer look at the hypothesis that volunteering more strongly benefits the unhappy. Applied Economics Letters, 22(11): 874-885.
8. Fletcher, T.D. & Major, D.A. (2004). Medical students’ motivations to volunteer: An examination of the nature of gender differences. Sex Roles, (51): 109.
9. George, D.R. (2011). Intergenerational volunteering and quality of life: Mixed methods evaluation of a randomized control trial involving persons with mild to moderate dementia. Qual Life Res 20: 987.
10. Griep, Y., Hanson, L.M., Vantilborgh, T., Janssens, L., Jones. S.K. & Hyde M. (2017). Can volunteering in later life reduce the risk of dementia? A 5-year longitudinal study among volunteering and non-volunteering retired seniors. PLoS ONE 12(3): e0173885.
11. Smith, M., Timbrell, H., Woolvin, M., Muirhead, S. & Fyfe, N. (2010). Enlivened geographies of volunteering: Situated, embodied and emotional practices of voluntary action. Scottish Geographical Journal, 126(4): 258–274.

Author: Steering Member
Categories: News

Government recommends upping society lotteries’ annual limit to £100m in new consultation

Originally posted by UK Fundraising:

The Government is recommending raising the maximum amount society lotteries can raise for good causes from £10 million to £100 million per year.

consultation into society lotteries opened on 29 June into on changes to the amount of money they can raise for good causes.

The Government recommends increasing the maximum draw prize from its current limit of £400,000 to £500,000. The consultation also asks for views on recommendations to increase the number of tickets society lotteries can sell to a value of £100 million per year and the amount they can raise per draw to £5 million.

Society lotteries raised over £255 million for good causes in 2016/17 but the individual draw limit for large society lotteries was last raised in 2009. The Gambling Act sets the current limits for society lotteries as £4 million sales per draw, £10 million sales per year and a maximum draw prize of £400,000.

The consultation follows the sector’s calls for limits to be increased. It will run for ten weeks and is open to members of the public.

Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport and Civil Society said:

“Society lotteries make a vital difference to communities up and down the country. They raise hundreds of millions of pounds every year, supporting our veterans, lifeboats, hospices, air ambulances and many other great causes. They are an important fundraising tool for charities and we want to ensure that both society lotteries and the National Lottery are able to thrive now and in the future.”

The Institute of Fundraising, Lotteries Council and Hospice Lottery Association wrote to Crouch in March this year, calling for the consultation to be brought forward following House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee recommendation in 2015.

In response to the news of the consultation, Daniel Fluskey, IoF Head of Policy and External Affairs, said:

“We are pleased that DCMS have published this consultation to review society lotteries. We know that the current system restricts how much charities can raise through the limits set and welcome this opportunity to review how the system can work better so we can raise more money for good causes and beneficiaries. We look forward to discussing the proposals with our members and engaging with DCMS through this process.”

Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) also welcomed the announcement.

Nicole Wastell, Lottery Manager at EHAAT said:

“Essex & Herts Air Ambulance will soon reach the £10 million annual sales turnover limit set by the current lottery regulations. Unless the regulations are changed, we will be forced to take out a new licence and restructure our existing lottery, at an estimated total cost of £100,000.

“As a charity which receives no central Government funding we believe our supporters across Essex & Hertfordshire would prefer us to spend this money delivering our life-saving service.

“Each year our Critical Care Teams are called to over 1,000 life-threatening incidents, at a total cost of £6.5 million. £100,000 could pay for us to attend an extra 40 missions or equip 65 premises, such as our charity shops, with defibrillators.”

Author: Steering Member
Categories: News

80% of charities need to revisit digital strategy

Originally published by charitytimes:

Written by Charity Times staff writer

Eight in 10 charity leaders acknowledge they need to advance the pace of digital change within their organisation, new research has revealed.

According to Engineers for change: Why finance teams must drive the digital agenda, published today by Charity Finance Group and Eduserv, 60 per cent of charities are successfully implementing a digital strategy, but over 80 percent said they would benefit from rethinking the approach they have to a digital transformation.

The research further highlighted that charities could increase the effectiveness of their plans by involving finance professionals earlier in strategy development and more closely in their delivery.

Only a minority of finance professionals are currently (43%) involved in digital planning or delivery in their organisations, but 86 per cent acknowledge they need to advance scope and pace of digital change.

Investment in technology (60%), collaboration across teams (58%) and investment in skills (52%) were found to be the top three factors charities think are critical to successful digital change.

CFG chief executive, Caron Bradshaw said it is becoming increasingly noticeable that finance professionals are “leading on digital and IT because nearly every change a charity faces will have an impact on their risk profile, the business model and sustainability”.

“Despite the many competing pressures facing every charity today, it is good to see clear evidence that organisations across the sector are committed to digital transformation,” she said.

“One key message came through our conversations with members: digital transformation is less about the technical demands and more about the leadership skills of the people we employ.”

Eduserv chief executive, Jude Sheeran, added: “It is no longer the case that digital technology serves merely to make our organisations more efficient.

“Across all sectors, digital technology is converging with operations and in doing so, fundamentally changing the way we do business.

It is particularly exciting to see that charities are beginning to understand and exploit the opportunities.”

You can download the full report here.

Author: Steering Member
Categories: News

GDPR: how charities can prepare with one week to go

Originally published by charitytimes:

Written by David Britton

When Ecclesiastical surveyed charities about GDPR at the end of last year, more than a third of small charities had not heard of the legislation. Fast forward five months and with the deadline looming, the good news is that the picture is now a very different one. In my conversations with charities over the past few months, awareness of the legislation has been steadily growing, and it’s now the hottest topic of discussion when I talk to clients.

There’s no doubting that the amount of time and effort that’s been put into planning and preparing for the GDPR has been significant. But while everyone is now aware of the legislation, there are still a lot of charities working hard to understand the implications for their own organisation.

A lot of focus for charities has been in reviewing the key questions for fundraising, in particular around the debate on whether or not they need to gather fresh consent from donors and supporters. Recent guidance from the Institute of Fundraising and, the Information Commissioners’ Office (ICO) has helped address some of these issues, but the implications of the GDPR are wider than just consent versus legitimate interest.

One area charities will need to think about is how prepared they are to manage the knock-on effects of data breaches. The GDPR imposes a new duty on charities to report certain types of data breach to the ICO within 72 hours of becoming aware. Above this if the breach is likely to result in a high risk in individuals, then they must also be notified.

This brings in a need for charities to review their processes to detect breaches, and then respond if something happens. The risks posed by cyber threats means that the likelihood of breaches is increasing and charities need to be prepared to manage the risks and deal with the consequences.

In light of this, charities are still in need of more support in terms of managing the risks posed by cyber threats such as hacking and phishing. There’s an increasing trend of charities data being targeted by cyber criminals so we’ve been working to help charities improve their cyber security, including publishing a recent guide in conjunction with the Cyber Security Forum.

It’s important that charities understand the risks to their organisation. The costs of not complying with the new data regulation are significant – new sanctions available to the regulator under the GDPR, include the power to issue greater fines for serious breaches, up to 4% of turnover or €20m. However these significant fines and penalties will only be used in the most serious of breaches.

So what can charities do now to prepare in the run-up to the introduction of the GDPR? If they haven’t already, then make sure trustees have discussed the GDPR and looked at what work needs to be done to ensure they are ready. It will depend on the circumstances of different organisations but a good place to start is to review all the personal data they hold, in all areas from donor and supporter information to staff and volunteer details and beneficiary data.

There’s guidance on the ICO website about the 12 key steps to take now so review all the existing guidance available. Charities should also see if there are similar organisations out there to talk to. One of the great strengths of the charity sector is its focus on collaboration so this is also a great opportunity to speak to similar organisations and learn from each other.

At this late stage, the key thing is not to worry unnecessarily about the GDPR. Many charities will already be well on the way to complying with the GDPR, particularly through any steps they’ve already taken to ensure they comply with the current data protection act. The GDPR will need focus from charities to ensure they are compliant but it’s not designed to be an excessive burden.

It provides charities with an opportunity to review the ways they engage with donors, supporters and beneficiaries to make sure they are fundraising effectively and taking any opportunities to show people how charities can do great things with personal data to help meet the needs of those who charities support.

David Britton is charity director at Ecclesiastical.

Author: Steering Member
Categories: News

Ex-charity boss John Briers guilty of £700,000 fraud

Originally posted by The BBC:

A former charity chief has been found guilty of defrauding his organisation out of more than £700,000.

John Briers, who was the head of Age Concern South Tyneside, used fake invoices and banked unauthorised bonus and pension payments between 2007 and 2015.

Briers, 57, of Woodstock Road, Gateshead, had denied three counts of fraud by abuse of position.

He will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on 24 May.

Briers stole a total of £708,499, the jury heard.

He paid 60 fraudulent cheques amounting to £433,236 into his bank account as well as awarding himself £105,560 via 12 unauthorised bonuses and £169,703 through 19 unauthorised top-ups to his pension.

‘Deeply saddened’

The jury heard concerns were raised by a finance officer in August 2015 who had become worried about an invoice claiming to be from an architecture firm.

They were also told number of submitted invoices were not sequentially numbered and had no supporting documentation.

Briers claimed he had banked the cheques as reimbursement for paying suppliers from his own funds and said the original invoices had all been lost and replaced by substitutes.

Following the verdict, the charity said: “We are deeply saddened by this serious breach of trust and highly conscious of how much more might have been done by the local charity to help older people in the South Tyneside area if it had not happened.”

Author: Steering Member
Categories: News