Houston, the charity page has landed…

“Houston, the Eagle has landed”.

The immortal words of Neil Armstrong as Apollo 11 touched down.

On the moon.  The moon?!

It still amazes me.

(**Ah, Houston, we have a clunking segue**)

But if charity landings seems as unfamiliar to you as the moon must have seemed to Mr Armstrong, here’s a useful beginners guide.

For more really helpful info, do have a look at the Charity Digital News website, where there’s some excellent free resources to make use of.

“One small step for charities; one giant leap for charity websites….”

(I know, I know, I’ll stop now.)



Money, money, money…


It makes the world go round.

Or, at the very least, keeps your charity going a little longer.

So that’s why I’m excited to be going to the Institute of Fundraising’s Introductory Certificate in Fundraising in London on 28 March 2014.

If you hadn’t heard of this already, the IoF runs this course for “those fairly new to fundraising and who need to improve their current understanding; those not yet working in the sector and volunteers and trustees who wish to extend their knowledge of fundraising.”

Which is most of us working in small charities.

But even better, there’s a help on offer for small charities which means that it could cost you as little as £20.

So, what are you waiting for?

This is as close to a free lunch as you’re going to get…

For more details, visit the IoF website.

Charity Resources: A Trilogy of… Lots?

‘I may not have gone where I intended to go,
but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.’

‘I love deadlines.
I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’


I am a fan of Douglas Adams.

He was a great author, writer, humorist, and all round good egg.

So in honour, of Douglas Adams famous Trilogy in Five Parts, I’m starting my own trilogy, on Charity Resources.

And whilst it might  not be as funny as Hitchhikers, it does share a certain ambiguous numeracy. In that I’ve no idea how many there will be. 42 might be appropriate?

But, following Douglas Adam’s lead, I’m going to start at the beginning. And hope that this won’t be regarded as a bad move.

My first Charity Resource page is on charity law.

I hope this series will be helpful.

But as the great man once said:

“You live and learn.
At any rate, you live.”

10 Steps to Grow Your Busine… erm, Charity

I just came across this article on growing your business.

I think it’s helpful, even for charity management…


The 10 DIY Steps to Growing Your Business

So your business is going great, revenues are somewhere between £500k and £3m, and being an entrepreneur you’d like to successfully grow it into something more substantial. How do you do it?

1. Plan. A business plan does not have to be complicated, sophisticated or long. Initially it’s a document for your own use, with your workings out detailing the sales revenues you realistically believe you can achieve and the cost structure necessary to generate and support that level of business. Remember, cash is king, so if your plan is in the form of a P&L, work out a cashflow forecast as well.

2. Strategise. What are you trying to achieve? Write it down in words. Not sure what to write: search the internet and look at other business’s strategies to get ideas for your own. What will success look like? How will you measure it? When you’ve done that, write subset strategies for each key business area e.g. marketing strategy, product strategy, customer service strategy, people strategy, each with their own measurements of success.

To read more, visit Wallace Burch’s blog on the 10 DIY Steps to Growing Your Business.

Governance Workshop 14th November 2013

Governance Workshop Thurs 14th November 2013

I am delighted to invite you to our Governance Workshop!

Governance Workshop Info – November 2013

We are partnering with the Charity Commission to host this event. The details are:

Date: Thursday14th November 2013 from 10am to 3:30pm
Venue: Ascension Trust, Alpha House, Alpha Place, Garth Road, London SM4 4TQ
Cost: £15 with lunch provided for every person.

The Workshop is designed to help local charity trustees, staff and volunteers better understand the role of a trustee, the importance of good governance, the various legal, financial and policy issues to consider, and it will be a chance to meet and talk with various local trustees about their personal experiences.

Highlights include:Charity Tax Group

Rev Les Isaac OBE, CEO, Ascension Trust speaking about Trustees as Leaders; Contributions from the Charity Commission and Charity Tax Group; and AT General Counsel, Andrew MacKay, covering legal and policy issues.

Here are some of the reviews from the last Workshop:

“I found the last workshop very helpful and definitely worth investing the time to attend.”

“It was very helpful and something that would be of benefit to all trustees, especially if they have had little or no involvement as trustees in other charities. It provided a good overview. I think it was run extremely well and each session valuable.”

“It was well organised, good food. It was interactive which I think is great giving people time to digest the information being presented and reinforce it through discussion.”

For more information, just email a.mackay@ascensiontrust.org.uk, tweet @BetterCharity or call 0208 330 2809.

I look forward to seeing you there,


Flood-Gate: Five Emergency Action Points

Monday was a water-shed moment for our office: there was lots of water, and it felt like working in a shed.

It was, if you like, Flood-Gate.

Apparently a pipe had burst over the weekend, and had slowly shared its goodness with the staff kitchen, main office, and the meeting space below.

When I arrived on Monday morning, it was like a biblical scene: sodden carpets, ceiling tiles on the floor, mushed up paper and books. And so began the slow clean up.

But it was certainly not, to stretch the metaphor, all plain sailing.

There were real difficulties dealing with the landlord; we lost access to servers, computers, and email accounts; our staff and volunteer contact details were stored electronically and couldn’t be accessed; and we didn’t have hard copies of key documents.

As a small charity it’s easy to forget that life happens sometimes.

And happen it did.

So here’s what I’ve learned from my Noah-esque adventures, handily summarised for you by the word of the day: FLOOD.

1. FOLLOW an Action Plan

When things go well, which is usually, getting on with work life is easy. But when things go wrong, it can get stressful, emotional, and difficult. And that is *the* worst time to start thinking about how to deal with emergencies.

Even as a small charity, you should be thinking about your emergency plan before things go wrong. Some of the main things to cover are: alerting your employees and volunteers, and making sure they are safe; reporting the emergency to the appropriate authorities; thinking about helpful procedures; identifying the right safety equipment; and delegating responsibility to the right people.

Our office is fortunate to have a Mother Hen office manager and management with life experience, but we’ll be better prepared next time.

2. LEAVE Emergency Supplies 

When we were came in on Monday morning, we had no electricity or heating, and all the windows were open to help dry the office.  And it was rather cold.  And it was raining. Yay.

We were fortunate that our neighbours were able to help us with coffee and teas, providing us with an electricity hookup, and letting us use their canteen and toilets.  But it might not have been as easy.

Think about what supplies would be useful in an emergency, and build a kit in an easily accessible place. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and only take essentials with you: what would you need?

3.  ORGANISE Hard Copies 

Once we had sorted the immediate danger, the next round of questions were thrown out: do we have insurance, what does the lease say, who’s responsible for the leak; who do we contact about…

It was then I realised that being obsessively ‘paper-free’ at work has its disadvantages.  All the relevant documents were neatly filed on the server and in my inbox. D’oh.

You should think about what important documents and files you might need if everything starts going wrong, and keep them securely in a paper file. Consider keeping documents like leases, insurance details, contact forms, warranties etc.

4. ORDER  Backups and Spares

When we first arrived, around 6 staff computers were sitting in the pooling water.  We raised them off the ground, but the damage was done. Turns out electricity and water don’t mix. Who knew?

We have been fortunate in having spare capacity in our office with extra desks, computers and volunteer space, which we were able to use to relocate essential staff members.

But you should think about what spare capacity you might have to deal with the loss of key systems, personnel or space? Order in spare batteries, torches, paper, pens etc, so that life can go on without electricity.

And make sure your essential computer data is being backed up. When it’s gone, it’s gone….

5. DEVELOP Incident-Ready Staff 

We had recently undertaken some staff training on issues like data protection and office policies. But none of us had been trained in dealing with an emergency, or in following any action plans.

Think about training staff in your emergency action plan, where to find emergency supplies, spares and backups, who to ask about what, and who’s responsible for what.

Because time spent preparing is not time wasted.

So remember, even as a small charity, life can happen.

You never know when the FLOOD gates might open…

Stella blog right on the Wonga

I have a problem.

I will freely admit it.

As someone who is reasonably committed to “seeing things get better”, I must confess that Wonga and the pay-day lender gang make me angry.

And especially when you see the size of profit they are recording at the expense of the poorest and most vulnerable in society.

The stats are galling: Wonga recently announced a 36% increase in profit on last year; 40% of those with payday loans say it made their financial position worse;  the Citizens Advice service has seen a ten-fold increase in four years in clients seeking help with multiple bills.

This must change.

I would thoroughly recommend this excellent Huffington Post blog by Stella Creasy, MP for Walthamstow, who has been campaigning about this issue for a while now, for more.

Ok, rant over.

For now.