Organisation News

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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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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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Volunteer for Diabetes UK in Staines

Currently, the number of people diagnosed with diabetes in the UK is estimated at 3.5 million, with a further 550,000 undiagnosed.  These 4 million people are 6% of the UK population or 1 in every 16 and this total  is set to rise to 5 million by 2025.

Type 2 diabetes in particular has been growing at a particularly high rate and is now one of the world’s most common long term health conditions. Diabetes is a major public health problem that is approaching epidemic proportions globally.

If you’d like to get involved, Diabetes UK have a new project in Staines, Surrey to help the community improve their health by taking diabetes seriously. They’re recruiting Diabetes Community Champion volunteers to inspire community members to reduce their risk of diabetes or manage their diabetes better.

We heard from one of their current community champion volunteers:

I attended the Community Champion’s programme which was a two-day intensive training. I learned a lot about diabetes, diet and exposed to some culturally tailored information on how I can best manage the condition and prevent complications. This helped me to check on my own eating habits and change my lifestyle. My main aim for signing-up to become a community champion and attending the training is to have a good knowledge of the condition and to give back to my community.

Diabetes UK’s Community Champions programme helps us to have the right knowledge and skills by educating everyone in the local community. This is my personal story but I know there are similar stories among others who are trained as Community Champions. They changed their eating habits and made changes in their lifestyle, I support this Programme because it is beneficial to the community and to the NHS. The money spend on diabetes care in NHS could be halved by the successful delivery of the Community Champions Programme. 

Why is Diabetes UK focusing on Staines? The Project Coordinator Lieneke Eleveld told us:

With this project we would like to reach out to the population most at risk for diabetes. People from South Asian, African-Caribbean and Black African origin are 2 to 4 times more likely to develop diabetes than their counterparts and therefore an important target group. In Spelthorne (Staines) 12.7% of the population is from a non-white ethnic background. It has therefore the second highest population from a non-white background in the regions covered by this project. Besides the diverse population Staines also has some of the most deprived areas in North West Surrey, including Stanwell and Ashford. People living in more deprived areas typically experience poorer health outcomes. By targeting people from diverse and deprived communities we hope to tackle a diabetes crisis within the people most at risk.

This is great opportunity to make a real and lasting difference to the health of your community. Why not take a look at the role description and contact alison@voluntarysupport.org.uk if you’d like to discuss this role or other volunteering options.

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Volunteer for Looking Ahead and help visually impaired residents learn new skills

Looking Ahead is a friendly and inclusive local charity supporting visually impaired adults of all ages to learn new skills such as touch typing and making the best use of tablets/laptops and smartphones.

They need volunteers to help people learn new skills, which can be a huge benefit to someone who has either lost their sight or has developed sight problems. Being partially sighted can lead to social isolation and loneliness and the class has helped some of it’s members to prepare for employment or take on voluntary roles in the wider community.

Looking Ahead volunteers are happy to learn new skills too – Heather has been a volunteer with the group for 9 years:

“It is such a friendly, relaxed group and both students and volunteers all enjoy having a chat at coffee time, as well as getting down to some work on our computers or Braille books. My role is to help students learn about the software available for visually impaired students so they can continue to make use of this technology. I can’t say I am particularly good on the computer, but amazingly I’ve found that I have been able to help students in this area and in the process I have learnt a lot myself!”

The group has both sighted and visually impaired volunteers supporting learners in developing new skills.  Everyone in the group is trained in working with the visually impaired.  

Have a look at the role description and get involved!

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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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Runnymede and Spelthorne Volunteer Awards 2019

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the Runnymede and Spelthorne Volunteer Awards held at Royal Holloway University of London on Tuesday 4th June.

It was a wonderful evening, with awards presented by the mayors of Runnymede and Spelthorne, celebrating the hard work and dedication of the volunteers in our community.

The winners are:

Lifetime Achievement in Volunteering

Mary Jeffrey, The Community of Stanwell

Inspirational Volunteer Award

James Brian, 1st Englefield Scouts

Individual Volunteer Achievement Award

Terri Pilgrem, Queen Mary Sailability

Supporting Individuals in Need

Malcolm and Julie Lee, Heathrow Special Needs Farm

Long Service Award

Anne Prevost, Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper

Young Volunteer Award

Lewis Fitch, 3rd Ashford Scouts

Courtney Green, Contact the Elderly Tea Party

Best Volunteer Team

Egham Constellations

The Penrose Club

Digital Support Award

Richard Howles, Elmbridge and Runnymede Talking Newspaper

Volunteering in Sport Award

Ken Halse,

Staines Town Juniors Football Club

Engagement in the Community Award

Anna-Marie Goodacre

 

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