Worried man laying on a table, looking to his smart phone. Bad news and fear. Converted to black and white. Grain added.

Help the Homeless with Spelthorne Rentstart

Sometimes things just happen and you can’t control them. Personal tragedy or sudden change in circumstances can strike any of us at any time and if you fall outside the welfare safety net there is often nowhere else to turn. 

Spelthorne Rentstart help their clients to get a roof over their heads and ensure they have the best chance of maintaining a trouble free tenancy by offering ongoing support for the duration of the lease. Last year they helped 61 new clients into housing and followed up with 1200 existing clients to give further advice and assistance.

Richard says that being a volunteer for Rentstart is “Awesome!! It’s a very rewarding role, you interview people who in many cases are in a difficult, if not desperate situation, sleeping in parks, vans and sofas if they are lucky. Most times it is not their fault nor can they do much about their situation, it is circumstances beyond their control which dictate their position. You can give them hope, direction and support in moving on to find somewhere live. That’s a big thing”.

You could give someone hope.

Rentstart need volunteer interviewers to give advice and assistance to the homeless (or at risk of being homeless) in Spelthorne. They’ll train and support you in all the skills you’ll need to make a real difference at a crisis point in someones life.

Interested? Learn more about the role here.


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 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.


SATRO need volunteers

Would you like to help children reach their potential?

SATRO are a local educational charity who need volunteers to help support their work in primary and secondary schools.

They’ve been working in Surrey and the South East and provide real-life experience of all aspects of the working world, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) through a diverse and challenging range of programmes. In the past 30 years they’ve inspired over 450,000 young people.

SATRO say their volunteers sign up so they can ‘make a difference’ to young people and are frequently surprised by how much they have learnt from the experience themselves.

Rachel who volunteers for SATRO told us “My 7 year old son came home from school one day saying a girl in his class told him that her mum has said I couldn’t be an engineer as I am a woman. In 2002, really? I volunteer for SATRO as I enjoy bringing what fun I have had in engineering career to schools. I want to help make engineering attractive and at least a career option girls would consider by using whatever skills and enthusiasm I have. Perhaps I can make a difference to one child.”

If you’re feeling inspired to be part of this great volunteer team and help young people in Surrey, why not go along to the Grand Final of the SATRO prestigious Problem Solving Challenge which is a fantastic after-school event on 21st March  at ACS Cobham International School, Portsmouth Rd, Hersham, Cobham KT11 1BL.

Contact for more information


Time for a Cuppa

There are 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia right now and approximately 3000 people in our community of North Surrey. We can all feel lonely at times but people living with dementia and those who care for them face even bigger challenges. A third of people with dementia said they had lost friends following their diagnosis. The stigma around dementia can lead to people becoming isolated and poor experiences with the general public can make people withdraw from society. Becoming socially isolated can lead to a loss of confidence and a sense of loneliness, both of which have a negative impact on well-being.

Dementia UK are tackling the issues around dementia by providing specialist nurses to help people live positively with dementia but we can all do something to help others. Reaching out to people in our community who may be lonely or socially isolated can make a big difference. A small gesture like sharing a cuppa with a person who is feeling lonely can give so much, they will have something to look forward to, a sense of connection to others and a feeling that they are cared for. As one lady recently matched with a befriender said ‘I just miss having conversations with people’. 

You can tackle loneliness in your community and raise funds for Dementia UK during Time for a Cuppa week (1st to 8th of March). Why not share a tea party with friends and family, or reach out to someone in your community who may be lonely.

You can make a longer term difference by being a befriender in our local community so get in touch with or to find out more.


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!


The Joys of Spring (Training)

Over the next 5 weeks we are offering free training to local voluntary organisations as part of our Spring training program. Our goal is to support you and grow the charity sector in North Surrey and we believe that giving you skills through training to fundraise, manage and recruit volunteers and maintain a strong board of trustees is fundamental to your success. 

Why is training important? 

 All too often in the nonprofit world, budget constraints force us to make hard choices between day to day funding of projects and training for employees and volunteers. It may not just be a question of cost, you may not even have time to attend training. We believe that if you measure the outcomes from educating your staff and volunteers as they relate to your organisational goals then money and/or time spent on training is well spent. 

 You may need to recruit a strong board, increase fundraising, embrace digital or retain more volunteers. That makes training in these subjects a good investment for the people expected to realise these goals and this is the training you should prioritise.  

The success of any organisation is due to its people, and that’s particularly true in the case of the charity sector. During these difficult times, you can show their commitment to staff and volunteers by upskilling those who champion the cause and really contribute to helping your organisation achieve its vision.  

 Through training, the need for supervision decreases and your staff and volunteers will make better decisions on their own and solve problems more effectively. Training helps develop leadership talent and communication skills, it decreases fear in attempting new tasks and enables handling of stress, frustration and conflicts. These factors give people a chance to perform better which results in developing feelings of satisfaction in their role.Training develops talents and capabilities which ensure that everyone makes a contribution towards your long term goals. 

 Who to train? 

 Most training is considered for new volunteers or employees and it is good to invest in development of their skills so that they can increase their contribution. But ongoing training of current employees/volunteers is as important since it helps them to adapt their daily routine work according to changing requirements, improves their performance on current role and prepares them for an intended role. Importantly, training inspires new thinking which helps to reduce resistance to change.  

 Why not ask your employees and volunteers to identify training they think would help them in their role. Ask them how they would use the learned knowledge/skills/confidence, how these would benefit the team and how they would share the knowledge.  

 If you only have the money or time to send one person on a course, there are useful things you can do: 

  •  Ask the person who is going on the course to give feedback to other colleagues, share important lessons and any handouts or templates. This also allows the attendee to review and reinforce their learning, meaning that it’s more likely to have an impact.  
  •  Contact a training provider and see if they can come and deliver the training specifically for your team – it is often cheaper. You could also think about sharing a trainer with another voluntary group with similar training needs. 

 What are your training options? 

 Excitingly, there are an increasing number of training options: 

  •  We offer face to face training in one of our three offices on the subjects of fundraising, social media, volunteer recruitment and management and governance. There are also a number of local options offered by other volunteer centres and the Surrey Skills Academy. 
  •  Why not set up (or join) an informal network to find peer support where questions, problems and advice are shared and discussed. 
  •  E-learning is an accessible way for staff to learn. Some infrastructure organisations are offering bite-size and accessible training for smaller organisations to access as and when they need it. Have a look at Media Trust, NCVO KnowHow and the Small Charities Coalition. 
  •  As part of their corporate social responsibility, some of the larger search engine and social media platforms offer free training such a google Digital Garage and Facebook Blueprint and don’t forget YouTube with its many ’how to’ videos. 
  •  Webinars can help geographically isolated charities or those short of time and low on office cover. You don’t even need to participate – just sign in, listen and learn. 

 Finally, use your social media to find blogs to follow – ask other groups what information fills their inboxes and have a look. We suggest MediaTrust, Third SectorHubspotNCVO, White FuseUK Fundraising to get you started.

social prescribing

Social Prescribing

What is it?

Social prescribing helps people with a range of social and physical problems to access local services provided by the voluntary sector. It’s a way for them to connect to community groups and statutory services for practical and emotional support.

Long term, it reduces health demand on GP practices and hospital admissions, since it’s estimated that about 20% of patient consultations are for social rather than medical problems. Rather than writing a medical prescription, doctors refer some of their patients to a social prescribing service which provides a non medical solution such as activities with local volunteer groups. Connecting with the community is good for an individual’s health and could potentially lead to big cost savings for the health service.

What are Voluntary Support North Surrey doing? 

Since 2015, our social prescribing project in Surrey Heath has had 587 clients and have generated 909 referrals for a social prescription to local voluntary organisations and groups. From our experience the biggest referral group is for befriending, which is not surprising given the national statistics for loneliness. Over 9 million people in the UK – almost a fifth of the population – say they are always or often lonely.

Does social prescribing work?

Evidence suggests that social prescribing leads to a range of positive health and well-being outcomes. Studies in Bristol and Rotherham have found improvements in anxiety levels, feelings about general health and quality of life and a reduction in the use of NHS services.

From our own experience, we have found that social prescribing is a very powerful tool running in conjunction with statutory services. It helps support vulnerable members of our North Surrey society become less isolated, give them more support with health and home situations. Most importantly, social prescribing connects and reintegrates people in their communities and gives them hope.

We’ve had great outcomes for our residents. Recently an elderly couple in Ash Vale in their late 80s and both with chronic ill health conditions were referred by their GP to our social prescribing project. We registered the couple with Crossroads for respite care and referred to Sight for Surrey to provide specialist equipment. They were also connected to an Age UK befriending service to reduce isolation.

What can you do?

We need volunteers! All of the voluntary organisations who we refer to need volunteers or donations. There’s a huge range of ways you can be a volunteer. You could be a driver for a local good neighbour organisation and offer a transport lifeline for members of our community no longer able to drive. Citizens Advice Bureau advisors give financial guidance to people stressed and anxious about money or employment. Dementia support groups and community organisations offering respite, social events and activities also urgently need volunteers. We have a new befriending project called Time to Talk which has a waiting list of people who need a friend.

Get involved and take part in social prescribing to make real difference – contact


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




site comparison

Charity Donation Sites Comparison

Choosing the best donation site for your charity can get complicated very quickly. There are lots of options to consider:

  • What are the donation site’s fees?
  • Is Gift Aid collected automatically?
  • How many other charities are on the donation site?
  • What extras are available?

The cost of being on a site should be weighed up against the visibility of your cause to the general public:

  • If your website attracts a lot of visitors and the public are donating to you by clicking through to the donation site via your website, why not collect donations directly using a payment gateway like PayPal who charge transaction fees only.
  • If you’re a small charity and don’t get much web traffic, you may want to be on a known donation site where the public can find you by searching for a cause they want to support.

A large number of charities on a well-known donation site can be an advantage since it gives the donator confidence in making a donation. They trust that the causes are genuine and that their bank card details are secure. A lesser known site will have less charities and less visitors but will cost less and you may just want to use the site to process donations and gift aid.

Do you have supporters who raise funds by taking part in events? Some sites allow them to create an individual fundraising page and any money raised is paid directly to your charity. Most collect Gift Aid and offer optimisation for mobile giving which is an important consideration since 24% of all online donations were made on a mobile device in 2017.

Have a look at the table from White Fuse of the top donation sites and the costs to the charity for £100 raised per month and read the site comparisons to help you make a decision about which site is best for your charity:

Just Giving

Just giving is the market leader so, as you’d expect, they have a very refined product. One big plus is that many fundraisers will have used this before for other charities. However, the fees are some of the highest.

Virgin Money Giving

Another very established option with a decent interface but high fees.


Wonderful is a relatively new entrant with no fees (not even for payment processing) and a modern clean interface. Not as many features as the bigger sites but definitely worth a look.

Golden Giving

Golden Giving is another low-cost option, with charges equivalent to BT My Donate.


Everyclick is distinctive because it allows people to raise money for your charity by simply browsing the web. If you refer your supporters to Everyclick and they use it to browse the web using the Everyclick search engine they will pay you a small commission.

The Big Give

The distinctive element of The Big Give is the matched giving functionality. Time-limited matched giving provides a great context for small charities to run direct fundraising campaigns.

Local Giving 

As the name suggests, the focus of Local Giving is local charities. Their website homepage features a postcode-based search to match up donors and fundraisers with charities in their local area.


Where all the other options on this list prioritise their own branding and only let charities upload their logo, Raisely offers a fully customised fundraising system that allows the charity much more control over the design and branding.

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