Monday, July 31, 2006

New web site under development

The new web site is under development and if you have any views about what you'd like to see, please let us know.

The current plans include the usual publicly available information as well as a log-in area for learners where you will be able to check on your progress in your studies, download resources and enjoy an instant messaging facility with other learners and the charitytraining team. Impressed? We hope that you will find the new web site a valuable resource to support you in your studies as well as providing lots of useful upto date information about developments in the sector.

We welcome your feedback as we plan our new web site at any time, and also would like to hear from you if you're interested in becoming a beta tester for the new site before it goes live in September.

Contact charitytraining at

Friday, July 28, 2006

PA's to charity Chief Executives

Yesterday was one of those really relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable days when the team did something a bit different.

Tony, Claire and Rebecca attended a meeting of PA's to charity Chief Executives (PACE) at Woodside conference centre near Kenilworth.

Tony facilitated an informal discussion about working with volunteers, especially trustees, that highlighted some key issues for PA's to consider in their work with their Chief Executive.

Thanks to Kate for inviting us, Nicky for the excellent lunch and goodies, as well as Gemma, Gail, and Traci for their input.

For information about PACE, email Kate Doherty at

Picture shows Woodside conference centre part of the Sundial Group (

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Majority of trustees ill equipped for role

The majority of charity trustees feel they are not fully equipped for their role despite being responsible for more than £39 billion of charity cash, according to a survey for the Governance Hub.

More than 80% of trustees say they took on their role in order to contribute to a good cause, but 94% say they do not have the skills they need to carry out their job.

The survey found that 45% required additional skills in charity law and compliance, and 41% had gaps in their knowledge about governance, fundraising and marketing and communications.

More than two-thirds of trustees said time constraints are the biggest obstacle to improving governance arrangements, and two-fifths of organisations do not have any budget for governance costs. As a result, just 46% of trustees have a formal induction while 22% of organisations fail even to supply role descriptions.

Jolanta Lasota, head of the Governance Hub, said the hub was launching a new campaign, Make Every Move Count, to ensure that boards are aware of and are using the tools available to skill up trustees.

“Good governance is essential for the health and success of an organisation, and boards need to focus on developing their governance arrangements,” she said.

For details of flexible Trustee Training programmes available from just go to and request our free Course Guide.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Age legislation a burden to charities

Gordon Lishman, Director General of Age Concern England speaking at yesterday's Age Concern Summer Event at the British Library where he highlighted the success of the Heyday project.

Charity employers perceive new anti-ageism legislation as a burden and are unconvinced of the business benefits of the new law less than six months before it comes into force.

New figures from the Age Partnership Group claim less than half of charity employers expect new legislation to improve staff retention. Just a fifth believe it will lead to better workers and less than a third expect it to increase choice in the labour market.

The majority of those questioned said age discrimination legislation would be challenging in recruitment (67%), selection (68%) and training (57%) of staff.

But the APG has warned that charities must act now to be prepared for the introduction of the legislation, which requires organisations to review their employment practices to ensure they are based on skills and competencies, and not age, from 1 October this year.

The Employers Forum on Age claims that lack of action could expose employers to £73bn worth of claims. The APG, funded by the Department of Work and Pensions, is now campaigning for employers to ‘Be Ready’ for the changes to age discrimination legislation when the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations come into force.

Meanwhile, membership organisation Heyday (backed by Age Concern) is taking the government to court over the new legislation. An application was lodged in the High Court on 3 July to seek a judicial review of the regulations.

Following a survey of 60,000 people of in their fifties and sixties, in which 80% said people should be able to continue to work over 65 if they wish, Heyday is calling for mandatory retirement ages to be scrapped. It says the regulations contravene a European Directive outlawing age discrimination, leaving people over 65 without the right to choose to work.

Source: Charity Times

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Road testing panel launched for new fundraising products

New fundraising products can now be fully tested before their launch following the creation of a live panel of reviewers from across the fundraising sector by the Institute of Fundraising.

The Institute’s new ‘Innovation Zone’ allows suppliers to present their new fundraising products and services to the panel of organisational Institute members, who will assess the proposals.

The scheme was piloted earlier this year. The full report from the pilot, however,is exclusively available to organisational members of the Institute.

The Institute's chief executive Lindsay Boswell said: “Fundraisers are well known for their innovative approach, and the last few years have seen the development of many new fundraising techniques.” He said the Innovation Zone aimed to “nurture innovation in fundraising” by providing a forum where suppliers and fundraisers could turn ideas into a real tools.

The launch came after the Institute published its new code of fundraising practice on accountability and transparency for consultation. The code draws together best practice guidelines and can be applied to all fundraising disciplines. It includes information on communicating achievements, fundraising costs and restricted funding. Interested parties have until 25 September to respond to the draft code, which can be viewed at

Meanwhile, small charities are now able to access regular fundraising through a new scheme called Key2Giving, offering donors the chance to pay a £5 a month fee to purchase a charity branded keyfob with a freepost address allowing lost keys to be returned to them.

And Guidestar has used the high profile case of Warren Buffett’s major donation to the foundation set up by Microsoft founder Bill Gates to encourage all givers to use its service to decide which charity to support financially, after YouGov research revealed that almost half of survey respondents felt they did not have enough information about local causes to give to them.

Source: Charity Times

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Gulf opens between large and small charities

The gap between large and small charities is widening. Figures from the Charity Trends 2006 report have shown that, overall, voluntary income for the top 500 charities is continuing to grow, increasing by 4.8% to £5.3 billion.

Cancer Research UK has maintained its position as the top fundraising charity with a voluntary income of £344 million. The charity earns £167 million more than Oxfam, which is in second place. The National Trust, British Heart Foundation and RNLI are also in the top five.

But while the biggest names in the third sector are doing well, small and medium sized charities are struggling to maintain their position. Charities placed in the bottom 100 of the table have suffered the greatest loss of income at minus 12%.

“The growing gap between large and small charities is very worrying for the smaller causes,” said Cathy Pharoah, director of research for Charities Aid Foundation and co-author of the report. “Small to medium sized charities are going to have to get smarter and look at collaboration over marketing and fundraising with others if they are going to compete with big brand name charities.

“While there is a perception that the public hold local and specialist charities in high esteem, this isn’t translated into financial support. There is a real risk that we could lose the diversity of the sector unless smaller charities rise to the challenge,” Pharoah warned.

Donations from individuals, companies and trusts to the top 500 charities have now reached £3 billion, and income from legacies also totals over £1 billion. The biggest growth comes from fundraising events, a 15.6% increase to £418 million.

Religious international causes have increased their aggregate voluntary income by 49% - the largest increase of any cause - taking over disability causes. Education, training and research causes suffered the most with a fall of 31%, followed by youth causes with a fall of 22.4%.

The unprecedented level of disaster appeals in 2004/05 led to a significant rise in the amount of money given to international causes, with a total of £60 million donated in just one week after the tsunami.

Source: Charity Times

Monday, July 17, 2006

Government putting up barriers to volunteering

The UK government has been warned that it is creating barriers which are preventing people claiming benefits from entering volunteering.

Volunteering development agency Volunteering England has hit out at the government for producing contradictory guidance for those on benefits interested in offering their time to the voluntary sector.

New guidance from the Department of Work and Pensions claims that lunch expenses are not a legitimate expense to be reimbursed to volunteers who are also benefit claimants. Volunteering England says this means those claiming welfare benefits will be unable to afford to volunteer, and that it contradicts both the long held understanding of permissible expenses and NHS rules on reimbursements which state that meal costs incurred during the course of voluntary activity are a legitimate expense.

The body says it also contravenes the Compact code of good practice for volunteering which says the government will “consult the sector so that proposed legislation of regulation, guidance and policies take account of the ways they may affect volunteers and volunteering activities.”

Volunteering England chief executive Christopher Spence said the organisation had already received a large number of complaints over the issue and had written to work and pensions secretary John Hutton to seek clarification.

“Volunteering England would be unable to support a position which runs counter to accepted good practice in volunteer management, as well as to the government’s expressed aim of opening up access to volunteering to disadvantaged groups,” Spence said.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Fire safety law is changing in October 2006

Changes in the law will have an impact on voluntary sector employers, as well as your health and safety policies. The new law will:

1. Emphasise preventing fires and reducing risk
2. Make it your responsibility to ensure the safety of everyone who uses your premises and in the immediate vicinity
3. Do away with the need for fire certificates

A set of guidance notes has been developed to tell you what you have to do to comply with fire safety law, help you to carry out a fire risk assessment, and identify the general fire precautions you need to have in place.

The guides are designed so that a responsible person, with limited formal training or experience, should be able to carry out a fire risk assessment. If you read the guide and decide you are unable to apply the guidance then you should seek expert advice.

More complex premises will probably need to be assessed by a person who has comprehensive training or experience in fire risk assessment. However these guides will be appropriate for more complex, multi-occupied buildings to address fire safety issues in individual occupancies.

For more details and to download the guides, go the Department for Communities and Local Government website at

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Try Before You Buy Event Cardiff

Despite previously being a volunteer, I had no real experience or insight into the Voluntary Sector until I met charitytraining. Although I already knew Claire, my first experience with charitytraining came when I went along with Tony and Claire to a taster day of their BTEC Professional Certificate in Voluntary Sector Management in Cardiff. I was in for a real treat! As we motored down, feeling hungry and in need of a break from the beautiful scenery of the motorway, we came across what we thought was a service station. As we drove in, we saw one lorry followed by another and another and another. Someone must have moved the service station, either that or we had just gate crashed the annual Welsh Trucker’s Festival! So we thought it best to carry on driving. Thinking we had found salvation in the Little Chef a couple of miles down the road, we pulled in, desperate for a cup of coffee. We went in only to discover we had walked into a place where time had stood still since the 1970s! We quickly had our cup of freshly machine-made coffee and began again on our tip.

Arriving in Cardiff, we were lucky enough to see the magnificent Millennium Stadium, which was only a stones throw from our hotel. We checked in and made our way to our rooms, only to discover these too were stuck in a different decade! At breakfast we found out that the hotel was run by Basil and Sybil in true Faulty Towers style!

However, after sitting down to our hearty breakfast the day improved and we were welcomed to the training room where we would spend the rest of the by Anna and Adrian. One by one the delegates arrived and the workshop got underway. Everyone introduced themselves and it was nice to see a mixture of large and small charities attending, who by the end of the day could all see the value of the course to improve the running of their charities. One of the great things about the session was that everyone could freely talk about the problems that each their charities faced and how the session was already beginning to give them answers.

The main topics for the day were Leadership and Management. Everyone got really involved in the activities which gave all food for though on how their charities were managed and how important being a good leader and a good manager are to charities, regardless of their size. I certainly learnt a lot as did everyone attending. Tony was a great trainer for the day, explaining everything carefully and thoughtfully. He was professional but kept the day informal and relaxed so that all delegates felt at ease speaking to the group.

By Rebecca Green (

If you are interested in attending a try before you buy workshop which we run at various training centres across the county please email us on or call us on 01778 344113.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Introducing Rebecca...

Rebecca is the newest member of the charitytraining team and we're delighted to see that she's already hard at work! To contact her, just email

Monday, July 10, 2006

What's in a name?

What’s in a name? This question has been asked by The Institute for Philanthropy.

The name of the sector still causes problems. Many minds have gone to work to come up with a good name but none has met with general acceptance. Here is a list of some that have been tried: voluntary sector, charity sector, public benefit sector, third sector, independent sector, community and voluntary sector.The Cabinet Office Strategy Report, Private Action, Public Benefit, published in September 2002, tackled this issue in its Introduction, Section 2.1: 'What's in a name.' The report itself settled for 'charities and the wider not-for-profit sector.' Some people have suggested 'Third Sector' makes us seem like the poor cousins of the public and private sector.

Whether or not the term, ‘Third Sector’, is the most appropriate description is just part of the question.

Increasingly, there is a need for a more detailed description of the organisations that make-up the sector that may in due course lead to the need for a range of definitions.

For example, globally there are various NGO’s who operate on a scale that is virtually on a par with small countries. In turn, the aspirations of some foundations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, is positioned to work alongside organisations such as international aid agencies.

If we adopt a tiered approach to definitions, sitting just below say, NGO’s, there are those charities that enjoy the bulk of UK voluntary revenue. According to Cass Business School, some 3,800 organisations receive two thirds of the total income of a sector with revenues in excess of £26 billion. As these organisations are also those who are at the forefront of establishing partnerships for the delivery of public services, perhaps a more accurate term for these organisations would be the ‘Fourth Sector’? eg charities with business-like processes and behaviours that supplement the public sector.

Of the 180,000+ registered charities, 56% have revenue of less than £10,000 (source: Cass and NCVO) which probably by definition equates more to the ‘Voluntary and Community’ or ‘Volcom’ sector, especially as there may be a higher proportion of these organisations that are entirely managed and run by volunteers.

That still leaves over 75,000 organisations, that could be described as the ‘Voluntary Sector’ or the ‘Third Sector’.

Whatever it is called, has the time arrived to adopt a more structured approach to how we describe the not-for profit sector? If only so that when looking at their funding needs, there is less of an uneven playing field and greater opportunites for all – especially if funders recognise the differences in scale between all these organisations.

Friday, July 07, 2006

The Giving Calculator

Most people in Britain support charities with two-thirds of us making voluntary donations every month, but we tend not to tell even our family and friends who we support, and hardly anyone knows how much anyone else is giving.

The Giving Calculator is a simple tool that you will find on the Institute for Philanthropy site, to help you see how your giving compares to the national average.

The Giving Calculator also tells you how you can meet the recommended target, set by The Giving Campaign, of donating 1.5% of your annual income.

For this and other information about the work of the Institute for Philanthropy go to

Thursday, July 06, 2006

New guide to public service delivery procurement

A free guide to the processes involved in public service procurement is set to be launched on 11 July by the newly established Public Service Delivery Network.

The guide, "Before signing on the dotted line", aims to help voluntary and community organisations become successful providers of public services, examining the full process of procurement from initially locating contracts to preparing tenders.

It includes information on contract regulations and management and the different types of agreements you may encounter along with case studies of organisations that have tendered for contracts.

The guide will be available on the NCVO’s website from 11 July at

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

National Occupational Standards

National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) have published the new National Occupational Standards for fundraisers, management of volunteers and trustees/management committee members on the UK Workforce Hub web site. The BTEC Professional Certificate in Voluntary Sector Management course provides all the under-pinning knowledge required to implement these National Occupational Standards.

What are National Occupational Standards?

National Occupational Standards define a framework of good practice in the way people work, based on the functions of their job. They describe the knowledge and skills required to carry out a specific task and are outcomes-based. This means they focus on WHAT needs to be done, not HOW you should do it.

As the Standards Setting Body for the voluntary and community sector, the UK Workforce Hub has worked with hundreds of individuals and VCOs to develop three suites of National Occupational Standards specifically for the sector: those for fundraisers, management of volunteers and trustees/management committee members.

However, National Occupational Standards exist for numerous other roles and occupations across the UK. For example, there are standards for administration, management and leadership, community work, training and development and advice and guidance, to name just a few. A directory listing all National Occupational Standards available can be accessed at

For more details about the UK Workforce Hub and to download copies of the National Occupational Standards for fundraisers, management of volunteers and trustees/management committee members go to

Monday, July 03, 2006

UK voluntary sector: Where is the money going to come from in the years ahead?

The Economist and The Sunday Times have each published articles about philanthropy during the past week, specifically reporting on the decision by Warren Buffett to join Bill and Melinda Gates in creating the world’s biggest charitable foundation.

Mr Buffett’s gift of $37 billion exceeds the $31 billion Mr Gates gave to his own foundation, but even so, both men are quoted as having global aims in making a difference in eradicating disease and poverty in developing countries, highlighting the need for investment in the areas of research and education to overcome malaria, tuberculosis and HIV Aids. Mr Gates has stepped down from his day job at Microsoft to focus his talents on running the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, where he is joined as a trustee by his wife and Mr Buffett.

The new Gates Foundation has overnight become the world’s biggest charitable foundation. Already though, Mssrs Gates and Buffett have cited concerns that many billions of dollars have been squandered over the years by well-intentioned philanthropists which is why their new foundation is being run along much vaunted businesslike lines with an emphasis on beneficary organisations achieving outcomes from the money given to them. The Economist describes Bill Gates as one of the leading practitioners of the new “philanthrocapitalism”, an approach that draws on modern business practices and an entrepreneurial spirit to get more for its money.

To its credit, the Gates Foundation has built performance measurements into all its projects and is reported as being prepared to axe those that fail to deliver.

This trend for more businesslike approaches to philanthropy is apparent to New Philanthropy Capital (NPC), which advises donors and charities on how to be more effective.The Sunday Times cites NPC’s chief executive, Nigel Harris, who says, “What we’re seeing is potential and actual donors becoming more and more concerned with the effectiveness of the charities they support, how the money is used, and what difference the charities actually make on the lives of the people they work with.”

In other words, NPC and the new breed of philanthrocapitalist are talking about the importance of outcomes and not merely outputs.

One definition of the difference between the two terms is that the outcome is the result of the intervention by the charity, or the direct result of having received a particular service. The output may well be the number of interventions (even if they are not all successful). Another simple way of defining the difference is that a charity may produce 10,000 information leaflets to support a specific awareness raising campaign (the output). However, the outcome would be a measurement of the number of people who read the leaflet and took action accordingly.

The point about understanding the difference between measuring outputs or outcomes, as well as noting the news about the rise of philanthrocapitalism, should be taken seriously by charity trustees and managers the world over, as both issues have a potential impact on future funding.

First and foremost, it is very easy for financially hard pressed charities to get very excited about the news that the Gates Foundation has been established, and it is not hard to imagine lots of fundraisers preparing well-crafted emails and letters to highlight why their particular cause is worthy of support by Mr Gates and Mr Buffett. This writer’s advice is this: don’t waste your time!

To fully appreciate the impact on the world of an organisation like the Gates Foundation, let us consider for a moment what exactly is meant by ‘the voluntary sector.'

What is the ‘voluntary sector’?

There is often talk about ‘the voluntary sector’ as though it is one homogenised mass of similar organisations when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. The focus for the Gates Foundation is either worldwide activities on a par with those led by non governmental organisations (NGO’s) such as the various United Nations agencies as UNAIDS or The World Health Organisation, or projects in the United States such as the $1 billion reported in The Economist poured into school districts from San Diego to Cincinnati to raise graduation rates. So, in this context, the voluntary sector focus for the Gates Foundation is either those organisations with a global remit, and/or NGO’s as well as projects that mirror the aims of the foundation in one specific country eg the United States. In the case of projects supported by the Gates Foundation, it is also important to note that many philanthropists (or philanthrocapitalists) are the ones who decide on the beneficiaries for their money and are not easily swayed from their own aims and objectives.

Incidentally, just as it is equally important for charities to make their aims and objectives clear in their own governing document and not be swayed in order to ‘chase the money’. It is also noteworthy that ‘the voluntary sector’ is a term that is more clearly defined and understood in some countries than others.

For example, there is an established voluntary sector in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, but even within the European Union, the concept of the voluntary sector, and indeed, volunteering is not part of the culture of all member states eg in France and the newer member states, the concept of volunteering is not widely recognised.

In the UK, there is a well established voluntary sector made up of over 190,000 registered charities with total revenue of £26.3 billion. The UK voluntary sector is also a major employer with a paid workforce estimated to be 608,000, equivalent to 2.2% of the working population. Also, employment growth in the UK sector has been rapid: 45,000 more people were working in the sector in 2004 than in 2000. According to Cass Business School’s Centre for Charity Effectiveness, it is estimated that 1.1 million people would be needed to replace volunteer input on behalf of UK charities at a cost of £25.4 billion.

However, when considering the size of all those charities, it becomes clearer that the term ‘voluntary sector’ means different things to different people.

Only 2% of the registered charities in the UK receive two thirds of the total income. In other words, there are only 3,800 organisations that really matter in financial terms. As 56% of UK charities have annual revenues of less than £10,000, it can be misleading to apply the same definition to the big players in the sector. As the term ‘third sector’ is sometimes used inter-changeably with the phrase, ‘voluntary sector’, perhaps the bigger UK charities should be described as the ‘fourth sector’? After all, it is these organisations with the revenues and staff structures that enable them to operate on a scale and in some cases, demonstrate a culture more akin to big business than the local self-help group working in the local community.

So, when talking about the ‘voluntary sector’, and using the UK model as a point of reference, we can already see that there are at least three tiers based on size alone eg NGO’s (including organisations with a global remit); the ‘fourth sector’ organisations, and finally the small (less than £10,000 revenue) organisations that make up the majority of UK charities.

It is when considering financial issues (not always the first thing that charity people like to talk about) that the differences between organisations grouped together in the ‘voluntary sector’ become even more pronounced.

According to Cass Business School, 38% of the £26.3 billion going in to the UK voluntary sector comes from statutory sources. Given the analysis that the bulk of total revenue is being received by the ‘fourth sector’ organisations, it is not unreasonable to assume that the bigger organisations are also the principle recipients of statutory incomes.

This figure should be viewed alongside a reported 10% drop in income for charities in the revenue bracket £10,000 - £100,000 between the years 2002/2003 – 2003/2004, and the on-going commitment of the UK government to partnerships with the voluntary sector as part of its reform of the delivery of public services.

In his speech to the Future Services Network conference on 22 June, the Prime Minister Tony Blair once again highlighted government plans to reform public service delivery with greater collaboration between the public, private and third sector.

The Prime Minister said: “It seems clear to me that partnerships between commercial companies, third sector organisations and the public sector will, more and more, be the way we deliver better focused and more cost effective public services.“A great deal has happened in the sector since 1997. It is the same sector in name only. Its scope, capacity and skills have been transformed. Of course the major credit for that goes to the people who have done it. But I like to think that a supportive government has played its role too.”

Meanwhile, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has released new research which highlights “systematic failing in the government’s approach to the delivery of public services by voluntary and community organisations”. The survey demonstrated how funding bodies were largely failing to provide contracts for longer than one year, while failure to agree payments in advance, or to pay on time, were commonplace.

Of those surveyed, 55% have not had funding negotiated and agreed promptly for this financial year, while 41% who had their funding agreed had not been paid on time. Also, 46% had not had their funding agreed for a period longer than one year, while 47% had not had funding agreed for payment in advance.

So, what does all this mean for the future funding of the UK voluntary sector?

The UK government talks about placing public services in the hands of the voluntary sector, but does it really mean those registered charities that are big enough to be described as the ‘fourth sector’? Or will future government initiatives be open to even the smallest of those charities that make up the vast majority of registered UK charities?

Phil Woolas MP, minister for local government and community cohesion told the Future Services Network conference that a cross-government action plan is due to be launched this autumn, which will hopefully allow for greater inter-government collaboration at a time when it is calling for greater collaboration between sectors. The action plan was originally muted for May this year, though the cabinet reshuffle caused this to be pushed back.

Given the complexity of what is meant by ‘the voluntary sector’ does the UK government need to show a greater understanding of how the sector operates? If this does not happen, a real concern will be that voluntary and community organisations cannot take on a greater role in public service delivery as envisaged.

Even worse from a funding perspective is a concern that funding for bigger charities will become increasingly linked to the political agenda in support of public services, leaving smaller charities increasingly cut off from those funding streams.

Long term, it could have the net effect that the big get bigger, just so long as they understand the politics involved, and the small get smaller (or disappear altogether).

Given that this is the scenario being faced by the UK voluntary sector, is it any wonder that the voluntary sector viewed on a global scale by philanthrocapitalists is even more complex?And finally, what about the difference between outputs and outcomes? Outputs are often easier to measure than outcomes, yet the focus on outcomes rather than outputs is precisely what charity trustees should be looking at to ensure a sustainable future for their organisation.

It probably comes as no surprise to find that 53% of formal volunteers are involved in fundraising, but for the sake of the longevity of many charities let us hope that those fundraisers are looking at longer term funding issues and not just the next project.

Tony Gibbs is Director of

Sources: The Economist 1st July 2006, The Sunday Times 2nd July 2006, Charity Times 22nd June 2006, The Centre for Charity Effectiveness at Cass Business School, and The UK Voluntary Sector Almanac: The State of the Sector 2006.