Funding news

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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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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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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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Legacy Fundraising – why we should all be doing it!

Gifts in wills are now worth more than £2.8bn a year to UK charities. Known as Legacy Giving, it’s one of the most valuable forms of charitable giving, so if your organisation is looking for a long-term sustainable source of income it should part of your fundraising strategy.

To encourage more people to leave charitable gifts in their Wills, charities are making legacy giving a normal part of their everyday conversation with volunteers and supporters. Many charity websites now have a ‘Leave a gift in your Will’ page.

To get started, think about what you are trying to achieve as an organisation. A gift from a Will could support your cause into the future, so plan ahead and communicate your legacy message simply and clearly – in one sentence if possible.

Your message needs to be targeted carefully at the groups of people that are most likely to want to leave a gift to your cause so consider your audience. Research from Remember a Charity shows that if you spend just 45 minutes talking to a donor, they will actively think about leaving you a gift in their Will. Integrate your legacy message right across your organisation and make sure your trustees, staff and volunteers can have a simple legacy conversation if the opportunity arises.

The biggest problem with legacy fundraising is that making a Will is something the public avoid mainly due to apathy – two thirds of the adult population aged between 35 and 54 do not have a Will. As with all donations – make it simple for your website visitors to find the information – tell them the impact a gift would have on your beneficiaries, how to make or amend a Will and how to include your organisation in the Will. Have a look at the British Heart Foundation website for content and structure ideas.

Finally, to raise more money from legacies – treat your supporters well. The warmer your supporters feel about your organisation and the longer their relationship with you, the more likely they are to consider leaving you a gift in their Will.

For those who’d like to learn more, we’re running a half day Introduction to Legacy Fundraising workshop on 6th June 2019, complete the registration form here.

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No Numbers Without Stories and No Stories Without Numbers

Charities need data to improve their performance and services for beneficiaries and charity fundraisers need data to prove impact. For both, the data must tell a story in order to be meaningful and powerful.

There’s much talk in the charity sector at the moment about collecting and using data. To understand service users’ needs, improve performance, showcase our impact and better present information to the public we must decide what data to collect and get started!

It is also increasingly important in funding applications to prove project need and expected outcomes/impact with hard evidence in terms of real data in order to be successful.

As well as collecting your own data, baseline and national statistics will give context to your applications.

Charity Digital News this week produced a list of the best data resources for UK charities:

UK Data Service – The UK Data Service claims to be the UK’s largest collection of social, economic and population data resources, including UK census data and government funded surveys. You can browse over 6,000 digital data collections for research and teaching purposes covering an extensive range of key economic and social data, both quantitative and qualitative, and spanning many disciplines and themes.

Office of National Statistics – The ONS is the UK’s largest independent producer of national statistics and supplies a large variety of datasets, ranging from business, economy and employment to population and societal data.

National Archives – The National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD) collection preserves and provides online access to archived digital datasets and documents from UK central government departments. NDAD spans 40 years of recent history, with the earliest available dataset dating back to about 1963.

London Data Store – This London-centric data bank was created by the Greater London Authority (GLA) as a first step towards freeing London’s data, with the aim of allowing everyone to be able access the data that the GLA and other public sector organisations hold, for free.

Data.gov.uk – Find data published by central government, local authorities and public bodies to help you build products and services.

NHS digital – Formally known as the Health and Social Care Information Centre, NHS Digital has responsibility for standardising, collecting and publishing data and information from across the health and social care system in England. Over a thousand datasets are available on a variety of sobjects from care quality through to population health and the outcome of treatments.

Openly Local  – Launched by the Social Tech Trust, Openly Local provides open UK local authority data from 160 UK councils on 12,000 elected local officials, 8,000 committees, and over 100,000 committee meetings. Its council dashboard shows the distribution of £14 billion of local government spending, between private, public and charitable contractors.

London Datastore – The London Datastore is a free and open data-sharing portal where anyone can access data relating to the capital.  Whether The site provides over 700 datasets to help you understand the city and develop solutions to London’s problems, with topics ranging from employment, transport and environment to housing, health and population stats.

Met Office – On the Met Office website, you can find historic UK climate and weather data from long-running stations, some of which go back 100 years. The pages are updated each month to reflect the latest month’s weather across the UK.

Ordnance Survey – OS open data products (OS OpenData) are a set of digital maps of Great Britain, available for anyone to use, for any purpose. Choose from maps at different detail levels to many different geographical datasets overlaid with information including addresses, postcodes, location names, transport networks, political boundaries, crime and pollution. Ordnance Survey OpenData products are free under the Open Government Licence but they ask that you acknowledge them when using them.

Justice Data Lab – Justice Data Lab is run by a team of analysts at the Ministry of Justice, providing organisations that have worked with offenders and would like to understand the impact of their intervention access to central information on reoffending. The service provides this information to help organisations to assess the impact of their work on reducing reoffending.

Data.police.uk – This site provides information made available by the Home Office on behalf of police forces in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and the British Transport police, such as street-level crime, outcome and stop and search information.

NCVO: Civil Society Almanac – View and download extensive data on the state of the state of the charity sector’s finances.

EU Open Data Portal – Looking further afield, the EU Open Data Portal is a central hub for free open data published by EU institutions and bodies. Subjects range from trade, economics and finance to environment, employment, agriculture, law, politics, education and communication.

Understanding Society  Data from the Understanding Society study covers everyone in a household, from children to adults, covering a wide range of themes such as family life, education, employment, finance, health and wellbeing. Anonymised data is exported to create public use files.

Gapminder – Gapminder compiles datasets on numerous categories from a wide range of datasets, aimed at helping people better understand the world at large based on data and not assumptions.

Free Company Data Product  The Free Company Data Product is a downloadable data snapshot containing basic company data of live companies on the Companies House register. Companies House is now part of the Public Data Group (with Met Office, Ordnance Survey and Land Registry), which was set up to maximise the value of the data held by member organisations and make it available free of charge.

Registry of Open Data on AWS This registry exists to help people discover and share datasets that are available via AWS resources. You can find scientific, geographic, satellite and space datasets among others.

World Health Organisation – The WHO data repository is a gateway to the world’s health-related statistics and datasets across 194 countries and can be categorised by country or theme (there are over 35).

Humanitarian Data Exchange – Managed by the Centre for Humanitarian Data, the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) is an open platform for sharing data across crises and organisations. Launched in July 2014, the goal of HDX is to make humanitarian data easy to find and use for analysis.

IMF Data – The International Monetary Fund publishes data on international finances, debt rates, foreign exchange reserves, commodity prices and investments.

Shelter Housing Databank – The Shelter Housing Databank brings together government data on housing need, supply, affordability and other issues at a local, regional and national level. You can view the data as a table or graph, or download it for further analysis.

Google Dataset Search – This little known Google function allows you to search for literally any set of data currently openly available.

Google Trends – Find out what people are searching for on Google.

Surrey-i –  Data from key stakeholders across the county of Surrey.

NWSCCG – Information and news from North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Group.

SHCCG – Information and news from Surrey Heath Clinical Commissioning Group.

Runnymede Borough Council – Information and news from Runnymede BC.

Surrey Heath Borough Council – Information and news from Surrey Heath BC.

Spelthorne Borough Council – Information and news from Spelthorne BC.

Surrey County Council – Information and news from Surrey County Council.

 

Read the full article here

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£1.4 million granted by the Community Foundation for Surrey

The Community Foundation for Surrey announced yesterday that they’ve distributed £1.4 million to support local communities this year.

We’re very proud to be one of the CFS donors making a difference to our local North Surrey community.

Here’s what they had to say in their press release:

“As we begin a new financial year, we take this opportunity to celebrate another year of significant growth for the Community Foundation. The distributed figure of £1.4 million shows the growing community of philanthropic individuals wanting to make a real and lasting difference across Surrey and it’s thanks to these generous donors that we are able to award this level of funding to voluntary organisations across Surrey. This year’s awards have been more than any other year since the Community Foundation was established in 2005.

Over £2 million has been generated for the benefit of Surrey communities. This figure includes new donations into endowment funds as well as the income generated by these longer term funds and made available for grant-making, plus donations provided for immediate grant-making.

Our grants have positively impacted on the lives of 294 voluntary organisation and 151 individuals across Surrey.”

Particularly good news is the Surrey Mental Health Fund, which supports early intervention projects helping young people, has awarded £54,000 to 7 projects in the first round of grants. One of the projects receiving funding was the Prospero Theatre and Beth Wood their artistic director said:

“A huge thank you to the Community Foundation for Surrey for funding Sunnydown in the Community. Through drama and Mind Fitness the boys will learn much needed coping mechanisms and have the opportunity to make real and positive links with local groups”

This fund will be making a second round of grants in July. Have a look at the criteria for application details here

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Is Twitter a Good Tool for Nonprofits?

Twitter has around 330 million monthly active users – that’s a huge audience for your charity so how can you make it work for you?

We are always looking for new ways to use social media to extend our reach and tell our stories. Twitter is a great platform for attracting an audience quickly, allowing you to publicise volunteer roles and direct donors and supporters to your website. It’s also great for starting conversations and establishing your expertise.

To be successful on Twitter your charity needs to be doing several things in the right way.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Content – Don’t just tweet for the sake of it. To stand out from the Twitter crowd make your posts unique to your organisation and what your audience is interested in. Ask questions to promote engagement and use images/videos that are relevant and will appeal. Make your tweets human by telling your story and the stories of your beneficiaries and volunteers.
  • Who to follow – Follow influencers in your own area such as local government, councillors and other charities (local and national) Note who they follow and the hashtags they use in their tweets.
  • Use Hashtags # to reach a targeted audience. The biggest benefit of using twitter is the ability to put hashtags # in your posts allowing you to broadcast to people interested in specific topics. If you’re not sure which hashtags to include, look at the tags in tweets of other charities or use a tool like ingramer which gives a list of relevant hashtags for keywords/images. Twitter also shows trending hashtags for particular events or awareness days. Be careful to search a hashtag in the twitter search box before using it to avoid embarrassment.
  • Get attention with Mentions @ – When you mention another Twitter account in one of your tweets they’ll get a notification and if your tweet is interesting or beneficial to them they may retweet your post or mention you back.
  • Focus on getting retweeted – 78% of engagement with your tweets will be through retweets so make your tweets ‘retweetable’ by inserting links to posts and articles on your website and to interesting content from other sources. Retweet content from partnership organisations that you respect and value to encourage them to retweet yours.
  • Use Visuals – Images are more impactful than words and also not included in the Twitter word count! Make your Twitter image the correct size 506×253 pixels and use a tool like canva to create a single image with your message. Canva allows you to export your created image in the right size to each of your social media platforms.
  • Use tools to simplify media management – We use Hootsuite to manage our social media outputs but there are others like TweetDeck or Buffer
  • Analyse your twitter performance – Twitter have a great analytics tool that shows your performance over the last 28 days. It gives top tweets, mentions, retweets, new followers and many many more statistics and graphs, but even using the most basic stats will inform your future content and improve your tweeting.

Remember that Twitter is a place to connect and have meaningful conversations. Think about what your audience wants to know, not what you want them to know. Use visuals and humour, even if your cause is serious. If you’d like help with anything social media related please contact us info@voluntarysupport.org.uk and follow us on @volsupportns

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GASDS Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme

If your charity has events where you accept donations you should be reclaiming gift aid from HMRC using the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme GASDS. The maximum donation for which you can make a claim on the GASDS scheme is currently £20 but due to rise to £30 in April 2019, and it’s important to note that donations are not a membership or ticket fee

The rules are straightforward, you must already be registered for gift aid and have made a gift aid claim. Your charity can then claim a payment equivalent to gift aid on cash donations of £20 or less, without the need for the donor to complete any paperwork, or for the donor to be a taxpayer. GASDS Claims are made alongside Gift Aid claims using the Charities Online template provided by HMRC. Note that an individual donation can only be eligible for one type of claim. It is either eligible under Gift Aid or the GASDS but not both.

HMRC states that to make a GASDS claim you must have claimed Gift Aid in the same tax year as you want to claim GASDS and without incurring a penalty in the last two years. You must also have claimed Gift Aid in at least two of the last four tax years (without a two-year gap between claims). Your GASDS claim can’t be more than 10 times your Gift Aid claim – so if you receive £100 in Gift Aid donations in a tax year, you can only claim on up to £1,000 of small donations under GASDS for that year (when you actually submit the claim is irrelevant). The maximum GASDS claim is £2000.

I found a really good example on the stewardship.org.uk website:

A charity receives £8,800 in a tax year in eligible cash donations with documented Gift Aid donations of £800 and small cash donations of £8,000. The charity can make claims on all of its donations; £800 under the Gift Aid scheme, and £8,000 under the GASDS because the matching principle allows for a GASDS claim of ten times that of the Gift Aid claim for donations received in the same tax year. The charity will receive £2000 in GASDS (25% of £8000) which is currently the maximum and £200 (25% of £800) in Gift Aid from their £8800 donations.

Good to note that you should inform your supporters that they need to commit to Gift Aid to allow you to make a GASDS claim.

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Telling Your Story for Digital Fundraising

Telling people the mission of your charity is no longer good enough. It has become increasingly obvious in the last few months of blog reading and webinar listening that digital fundraising in 2019 will be all about telling stories about your organisation and stories about the people you support.

Whether we like it or not social media has changed the way we communicate with one another. Social media use is growing; 68% of adults use Facebook; 73% use YouTube and 82% of Baby Boomers use social media sites. When we hear a story, we relate it to our own experiences and how we feel about it. Your story should inspire your supporters to take action and share with their own personal social networks.

Story telling is the perfect way to communicate in personal terms your charity’s mission, impact and to engage with your donors and supporters. Use your website, emails and your social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube ….)  to inform the world about what you do and how you are helping your community. The benefits of telling the right story will be bigger donations, increased media coverage for your cause and better connections with your current and new supporters.

A good story turns people from passive to active. Making readers understand and empathise with the subjects of your story, is 100% more effective than explaining what you do in a dry academic report. Great stories resonate with an audience. Decide who your story is appealing to and craft it accordingly. Your story will take shape when you have identified: your most active supporters; what they like; what motivates them; what makes them happy/sad and what’s important to them.

Why not put together a series of stories on the same subject from different perspectives to appeal to different donor age groups and motivations.

Everyone in your organisation should be collecting stories: beneficiary stories; organisation stories; supporter stories; volunteer stories; event stories; donor stories; community stories – the list is endless. They should also be collecting images and making videos! If you want to showcase your organisation and the amazing things you do – what better way to do it than to engage those who do the work every day as well as the people in your community who benefit.

Finally, remember that donors fund people – not organisations – so make your stories about people!

NCVO

Why Should I be an NCVO Member?

The National Council of Voluntary Services supports the voluntary sector and volunteering because we’re essential for a better society.  They support 14,000 member organisations – a third of the voluntary sector workforce in England and help us all by providing expert advice, news and current third sector legislation.

Every day in our North Surrey community ordinary people make a difference through voluntary organisations and volunteering. In our work to support those groups we make regular use of the information provided by the NCVO.

What benefits do they offer to members?

  • NCVO Knowhow has step-by-step how-to guides and case studies, template documents, toolkits and policies on a wide range of essential subjects including governance, volunteering and HR. They have information and guidance on topics from how to start a charity, to funding, managing people and volunteers, and governance.
  • Online training in the Studyzone – where you can watch courses on topics including governance, communications, volunteer management and strategy.
  • Follow them on social media to get up to date national and political news on the UK voluntary sector @NCVO and @NCVOvolunteers
  • Funding Central provides access to a grants database and weekly emails of tailored funding advice and information. This service is free to organisations with income under £100,000.

There are so many other ways for you to benefit from their support and for those of you with an income of less than £30,000 membership is free.

Have a look at what they offer and how you can be a member here

 

 

 

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