Voluntary Support

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Fisglobal Volunteer at Mane Chance

Mane Chance provide sanctuary and relief from suffering for horses, while promoting humane behaviour to all animals and mutually-beneficial relationships with people who need them.  The hard working team from Fisglobal cleared the area around the pond which would have taken them weeks to do.

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Menzies Volunteer at Salvation Army Addlestone

The Salvation Army are a cornerstone of life in Addlestone  and offer a space for community groups of all ages to run activities. They rely on volunteers give the community hall a facelift so that it is always welcoming. A fantastic team from Menzies painted the facilities and spindles to brighten up the communal area.

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Salesforce Volunteer at St Peters Hospital

Many people find visiting the hospital intimidating.  St Peters works hard to maintain the grounds to make visitors and patients more comfortable and welcoming. An enthusiastic team from Salesforce in Staines worked tirelessly in the grounds of St Peters Hospital to remove all the weeds at the main entrance.

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Local Employee Volunteers at Surrey Youth Games

Despite the weather an enthusiastic corporate team from ADP helped to set up for the Surrey Youth Games.  Held at the Surrey Sports Park it is the largest annual multi-sport sports festival in Surrey.  Spread over a single weekend every year it brings together over 2,000 young people over the course of the games who represent their local community.

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Fundraising with Facebook and Instagram

Many of you have active Facebook pages, I see you online every day, but a surprising number of you are not using the fundraising capability that Facebook offers registered UK charities. There are lots of reasons why you should:

  • It’s easy!
  • All the funds raised on your page are all yours – no fees.
  • Facebook has one of the largest online social communities where you can reach hundreds of your supporters and potential supporters every day.
  • Your supporters can set up a dedicated fundraising page to promote your cause and rally their friends around a fundraising goal.
  • Donors can make a donation without leaving your Facebook page.
  • You can sign up to receive donations automatically through Facebook Payments and get paid biweekly based on when donations are received.
  • Use Facebook ads for relatively small fees to target your campaign to a particular location – especially useful for small local charities.
  • Learn about who is making a donation to your cause by accessing contact information of donors who have opted in.
  • Use Facebook Insights to analyse and engage better with your audience
  • Make Facebook donate button an addition (not a replacement) to your fundraising strategy

It’s worth noting for those of you with an Instagram platform, on May 1st, 2019 Instagram in the US followed in the steps of its parent Facebook and added a way for users to easily donate to nonprofits. Similar to Facebook’s donation button, Instagram covers 100% of credit card/processing fees for nonprofits that are officially US registered charities approved by Facebook.

The date of the UK Instagram donate launch has not yet been announced, although its rumoured it will take place later this year.

https://www.facebook.com/donate/signup

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Trustees – Volunteers Week 2019

Trustees are literally the foundation of all nonprofit organisations. They are the volunteers who help control how the charity is run and responsible for making sure it is doing what it set out to do and that it has the funds to achieve its aims.

Trustees use their skills and professional experience to support the charity’s cause or causes, working together with the other trustees as a team.

One of the most important things charities need from their Trustees is someone who is committed to the organisation and enthusiastic about what they stand for. It is important that they recruit people from a wide range of backgrounds who offer a variety of different skills and experience.

Richard is a trustee for Egham Education Trust:

“I’m 23 years into a great career with Microsoft and I consider myself the luckiest person alive. I have a decent income, a loving family and a roof over my head. I don’t think I would have ended up in this position if it wasn’t for the Egham Education Trust, which stepped in when I needed it most to help me with financial support, so I was able to afford my education after I left school. The Trust set me on the road for a career in technology and I’ve always been grateful. Now it’s time for me to give back, to help others get the opportunities which I was given to live their lives to the fullest. I’m back at the Egham Education Trust, but this time I’m helping them find people who are in need like I was. It’s a chance for me to give back to the charity that did so much when I needed it the most, and it’s a simple thing to offer my time and skills to volunteer with them.”

Recruiting new trustees is an ongoing issue for most non-profits. Finding someone who has the right skills and experience, a connection with your cause and enough free time to make a genuine contribution can be time consuming.

For the sake of diversity don’t limit your recruitment process to personal connections. Use your social media channels, create a dedicated page on your website and use our Surrey-wide volunteer recruitment database Volunteer Plus (contact alison@voluntarysupport.org.uk for more information)

You can also go national using resources listed by the Small Charities Coalition

As you can see from Richard’s experiences, being a trustee is enormously rewarding. If you’re interested, have a look at our trustee volunteer roles – we have opportunities from a diverse range of local charities.

As we’re so fond of saying … we really do have a volunteering role for everyone!

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Volunteers Week 2019

Volunteers Week is celebrated between 1st and 7th June every year. It is a week in which the UK celebrates volunteers and says thank you to them for the contribution that they make. There’s lots of information about events and how to get involved on the NCVO website and still time to organise a thank you for your volunteers.

For us Volunteers Week 2019 is a busy time of year, we have information events to celebrate, inform and thank volunteers in our community and also our annual Runnymede and Spelthorne Volunteer Awards 2019 ceremony at Royal Holloway University. There are 15 million people in the UK who regularly give their time to local communities and our awards recognise some of those amazing volunteers in our own community. It’s an inspiring, fun evening where we get to meet lots of old friends and make some new ones!

‘Wanting to do good’ remains the most important reason to volunteer. 46% of people say improving things and helping others remains the most common reason why they volunteer. 31% of people said they gave time because the cause was important to them.

Being a volunteer means having time to give, which can make work and family commitments a barrier to volunteering. However, locally we have found increasing numbers of local businesses are interested in help with employee supported volunteering (ESV), where the employees of a business take paid time off to volunteer during work hours. Approximately 11 million employees in the UK are taking part in ESV schemes, estimated at two billion pounds worth of support to deserving charities. By helping tackle local issues, employers can benefit both themselves and the communities in which they operate. Contact us to find out how you can get your business involved. We’d also love to hear from you if you’re a charity with a project that you think a team of volunteers can help with.

There are also ways to volunteer that only take a little time but mean a great deal to the charities and their beneficiaries. If you’d like to volunteer and need help finding the right role please get in touch with alison – there really is something to suit everyone!

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When Grant Funders Say No

Grant funders don’t like to say no. They strongly believe in what charities do and they want you to succeed. Yet many of the applications they receive don’t qualify for funding, often because of problems that could have been avoided.

Knowing the reasons for rejections may help you avoid negative outcomes so I’ve put together a top 10 list given by funders to help smooth your application process:

  1. Applicant and application do not fit the grant givers funding criteria. This is the number one and by far the most important reason why applications get rejected. If you’re requesting any level of grant money, read the basic funding guidelines published by the funder. As well as reading the criteria, funders websites often list previous grants showing the types of organisations funded, the amount granted and an outline of the project.  If you are still unsure, give them a call or write a letter to ask if you are a suitable applicant.
  2. Applications lack the required documentation. Most funders require similar documents in addition to the application and you should have these in order before beginning the grant application process. Usually you will need your Charity Number, Charity Constitution, Charity Accounts, Financial Policy and for capital funding, a lease (or ownership) information and building permissions.  You may also be asked for your organisation’s policies – volunteer, health and safety or safeguarding for example, so they should be up to date and readily available.
  3. Nonspecific projects. Funders complain that organisations share their mission, challenges and activities without describing the project they want to fund and the specific amount needed. Tell the funder exactly what you are doing, who you are helping and how it will get done. What specifically will you spend the grant funds on? Describe the specific project with budget, resources required, statistics and surveys of need, expected outputs and outcomes and the overall project timeline.
  4. Project budget not accurate or non-existent. Your project budget should include detailed documentation to support the actual expenses your project will require. A ballpark request for funds to support a project or initiative will be rejected no matter how great the goal or idea. Compile a detailed account of what your project will cost, including documents showing the basis of your expenses. Calculations should be double checked to make sure that your figures add up!
  5. Funding requested is too large an amount for the funding offered by the grant maker. Check the funders criteria and previous awards made to make sure you are within the correct funding limits.
  6. Underestimating the time involved in the grant application cycle. Grant funding is not a quick process and from application to receipt of funds you should allow for a minimum of 6 months, sometimes the better part of a year. The solution is to identify your funding needs as part of your organisation fundraising strategy, start your application research and plan your applications according to submission deadlines.
  7. Work on the project has already started. Funders very, very, very rarely give retrospective grants and this is not negotiable.
  8. You did not show how your project would be sustainable. Ask yourselves “what will happen once the grant funds run out?”. If you do not have a plan to sustain your project or have not made that plan clear in your application it may cause your application to be declined.
  9. Your organisation doesn’t have a track record to deliver this type of project. If the work is new to your organisation, show either that you have piloted the project, are following a similar model that has been successful elsewhere or that you have experienced staff or volunteers who can make the project a success.
  10. Application submitted after the deadline. Prepare and assemble all the correct documentation to avoid leaving the submission to the last minute, especially for online applications. A rushed application will always look like a rushed application.

You should also be aware that your application could be fine but that applications from other organisations fit the criteria more closely or that the money has all been allocated already for this grant cycle. You may want to ask the funder for feedback and use what you’ve learned in your next round of grant proposals. Send your applications to a diverse group of funders and be sure to explain how your project can help each foundation meets its own goals, not only how the foundation can help you meet yours.

Above all—be patient, be persistent, and be positive.

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Mental Heath Awareness Week 2019

Monday 13th May is the start of Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme for 2019 is Body Image – how we think and feel about our bodies.

Last year the Mental Health Foundation found that 30% of all adults have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. That’s almost 1 in every 3 people.

Body image has profound implications for our mental and physical health. The more comfortable you are with your body, the greater your overall wellbeing, and the less likely you are to engage in destructive behaviours.

This week we’re appreciating the strengths of our bodies and helping one another feel comfortable in our own skins. Here are a few ideas about image positivity that may help improve your mental wellbeing:

  • Write down 10 things you like about yourself that aren’t related to what you look like but what’s good about you on the inside.
  • Help others – it will make you feel good about yourself, reduce stress, improve your emotional wellbeing and benefit your physical health. There are lots of ways to volunteer in North Surrey and we can help you find a role.
  • Appreciate what your body does for you by giving yourself some ‘me time’ – try yoga, have a bubble bath, go for a walk in a peaceful place or just put your feet up!
  • Surround yourself with positive people – you’ll hear positive views and stories and their positive words will help you see yourself and the world around you in a more upbeat way.
  • Celebrate all of the amazing things you CAN do (breathing, laughing, walking, dreaming) and take care of your body by eating well.

The Mental Health Foundation are running a body image challenge called Be Body Kind. They are asking people to post on social media a picture of a time or a place when you felt comfortable in your own skin – this could be now, five years ago or at the age of five. It can be a photo of yourself or something else that reminds you of the moment. Using the hashtags #BeBodyKind and #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek.

There’s lots of support from organisations in North Surrey if you need to talk to someone. Have a look at the websites of Cornerhouse, Oakleaf, The Mary Frances Trust, Catalyst and Healthy Surrey.

Our Amigo project offers support to anyone recovering from mental ill health who needs help to reconnect with their community and take part in local activities to continue in their recovery. If you are interested in being a volunteer or feel you would benefit as a client please contact us.

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Make Your Website Work

This week I’ve been catching up with some of the groups that attended our Digital Fundraising course a couple of months ago. It’s been interesting to see their progress and how they’re putting lessons of the course into practice. It has highlighted the importance of getting your website in order as a first priority.

Your website should be the centre of your communications. Everything you do and believe in should be reflected in the content of your website. Your mission should come across clearly on every page, so that visitors can gain a strong understanding of who you are and what you do.

The goal for your charity website is to rank well in an internet search and to appear on the first search page to allow potential supporters and donors to find you easily.

This is called website optimisation, and a well optimized website will:

  • Broaden your reach –the public needs to be able to find you online to allow you to raise awareness of your work and get support.
  • Engage new and existing donors – the easier your website is to use, the easier it will be to inspire people to give money.
  • Expand your database of supporters – an optimised website will efficiently capture your visitors’ information and create a database of people interested in your cause. An up to date email list is an asset when it’s time to request donations and publicise an event.
  • Attract new volunteers – websites are the perfect tool for peer to peer information sharing. Your supporters sharing your news with their friends gives you access to a whole new audience of potential volunteers and donors.

So, now you know what the benefits are how can you optimise your website to achieve some of the above?

  • Use keywords and phrases in your content to reflect your work which are possible search terms visitors might use to find you.
  • Make your website engaging – give visitors a reason to keep coming back. The more often your website is viewed the higher the search engine ranks you will climb. Make it obvious what you do, what you need volunteers for and what a donation will mean to your beneficiaries.
  • Make your site easy to navigate – don’t have too many menu options and make their titles a call to action – volunteer, donate, support us, get involved, contact us etc. Your policies and privacy statements should not be main menu options!
  • Create entertaining and informative content – change it regularly, especially if you are fundraising – fresh content is the best way to encourage people to visit your website again and again. Use images, good news stories and positivity to attract and retain your audience.
  • Optimize for mobile – google penalises websites which don’t display well on mobiles or tablets. In 2017 21% of all online donations were made on a mobile.
  • Get active on social media – use social media to drive traffic back to your website and further broaden your reach. Install social sharing tools on your website to allow visitors to share with their networks and friends.
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