Rate of digital change in charities is stalling
The Charity Digital Skills Report 2019 suggests some charities are stalling or even going backwards in their integration of digital. More than half (52%) of charities who responded to the annual survey have no digital strategy, an increase from 2017 and 2018, when the figures were 50 per cent and 45 per cent respectively. Mims Davies, minister for sport and civil society and Margot James, minister for digital and the creative industries, said: “For the social sector to take full advantage of the opportunities that digital presents, it needs to be equipped with the right digital skills . . . There is no doubt that many charities are struggling to use digital tools strategically, which is impacting the growth of the sector." Zoe Amar, founder and director of Zoe Amar Digital, which carries out the annual survey, said: “It is reassuring that charities seem to be aware of the issues and where the gaps are... however, the slow pace of change and the decline of progress overall needs urgent attention.”
NCVO accuses Charity Commission
NCVO is unhappy with the Charity Commission after the regulator’s chair wrote an opinion piece in The Times accusing charities of not meeting public expectations. Baroness Stowell wrote in the wake of the publication of the Commission’s inquiry report into Oxfam last week: "Over recent years, we’ve seen charities losing sight of what they stand for in pursuit of organisational advantage." In a letter to Charity Commission chief executive Helen Stephenson, NCVO chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington responded: "While claiming that it wants charity to thrive and inspire trust, [the Commission] is only talking about how ‘charity’ has failed," adding "there is a real risk that [these broad generalisations] will . . . . entrench public misconceptions and erode the public’s trust.” Separately, NCVO has announced its new chief executive. Karl Wilding will take over from Sir Stuart Etherington in the autumn. Sir Stuart announced his retirement earlier this year after 25 years with the umbrella body.
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Nearly a third of people have never donated to charity
New YouGov research suggests that nearly three in 10 people in Britain (29%) have never donated money to charity. The most cited reason (32 per cent) for not donating was distrust of charity management, according to YouGov’s What motivates charitable giving report. Twenty-nine per cent said they had never donated because they couldn't afford to, and 28 per cent said they donated in other ways – for example by volunteering or giving goods to charity shops. Briony Gunston, director of not for profit research at YouGov said: “There is a significant portion of Brits who have never donated to charity . . . However, what is encouraging is that the most commonly cited reason for not donating, worrying that administrative costs consume too large a portion of funds, could be less of a barrier with more reassurance and education from charities.”
Scots law firms in Will Aid campaign
McClure Solicitors, which has branches in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverclyde, Rollos Law in Fife, and Miller Hendry in Dundee, Perth and Crieff, were among the top five UK fundraisers in the 2018 Will Aid campaign. The three firms raised a total of £47,634 between them for the scheme. McClure Solicitors is also the top donating firm in the UK for 2018, raising £24,885 last year. Andrew Roberston, managing director, said: “We are absolutely delighted with our efforts, and thrilled that we are not the only Scottish firm to be making a difference.” Bob Inch from Rollos Law added: “There has been a surge of interest in will writing in Scotland since the laws of succession were finally brought up to date in 2016 for the first time in 50 years.” Meanwhile, Caroline Fraser from Miller Hendry commented: “We are thrilled to have helped so many people in Scotland to prepare a will and to have helped the nine Will Aid charities in the process.”
Report reveals impact of bullying
A new report from the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO) and Centre for Mental Health details the impact of bullying in the charity workplace and makes recommendations to create safer systems, processes and cultures in the sector. More than half (58%) of respondents to the In Plain Sight study formally reported incidents of bullying but only 3% said that their complaint was dealt with satisfactorily. Vicky Browning, chief executive of ACEVO, said: “We believe that as charities we should be taking a lead on how we tackle bullying in order to create inclusive and supportive workplace cultures . . . [The responses to the study] have enabled us to begin the process of tackling an issue that is rarely talked about publicly in the charity sector. This research is an important first step and I am committed to making the recommendations in the report a reality."
Charity is 'deeply sorry' for data breach
A charity supporting transgender children and young people has apologised after thousands of emails were made public online. Mermaids UK said it was "deeply sorry" for what it called a "historical data breach" after it was reported by the Sunday Times. The newspaper claimed the correspondence included "intimate details", names and addresses, but the charity denies the allegations. It said there was "no evidence" the information had been retrieved by anyone other than the Sunday Times, or those contacted by the newspaper's journalist. Mermaids UK said the Information Commissioner's Office had been notified, and those affected had been contacted. The Charity Commission had also been notified, the charity said, and an independent investigation would be launched.
NSPCC apologises for dropping first LGBTQ+ campaigner
The NSPCC has said it cut ties with transgender activist Munroe Bergdorf because of statements she made on social media which breached the charity's safeguarding rules. Ms Bergdorf had been appointed by the NSPCC as Childline's "first LGBT+ campaigner" - but was dropped only days after the announcement. Ms Bergdorf accused the NSPCC of giving in to pressure from transphobes but the charity said its decision was unrelated to her being transgender. The NSPCC nevertheless apologised for the way it severed the relationship with Ms Bergdorf, saying it "shouldn't have cut ties in the way we did".
Scottish Charity Awards 2019 winners
Edinburgh-based Drake Music Scotland, which helps over 1,000 disabled children and adults to play music, received the Charity of the Year Award at The Scottish Charity Awards on June 14th. The People’s Choice Award was won by Scotland's Charity Air Ambulance (SCAA) and Toni Giugliano of the Mental Health Foundation was named Leading Light for his work on suicide prevention. Laura Reid of Support in Mind Scotland won the Charity Champion Award. Move On was named Pioneering Project for its Family Food Service, and the Celebrating Communities award went to Give a Dog a Bone . . . and an animal a home. Marie Curie and MND Scotland received the Cracking Campaign Award for work on the Social Security in Scotland campaign.
‘Looming crisis’ as care charities hand back contracts
The Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland has warned of a looming crisis, with a fifth of its member charities having handed back at least one contract to public authorities such as councils and health board partnerships in 2017, increasing to a third last year. The body commissioned a report from Strathclyde University to look into the rise. The report found that the failure to properly fund social care was driving charities to the brink, while problems also exist in staff recruitment and retention. Charities have criticised commissioners for being out of touch with service provision, lacking realistic expectations of what can be provided within a given budget, and the report warns that commissioning may conflict with the Scottish Government’s Fair Work policy.
Charity audit fees up £10m in four years
The UK’s largest charities paid audit fees of £72.3m in 2017-18, a rise of £10.2m in just four years, according to a report produced by Charity Financials. The Charity Audit Spotlight 2019 report showed that 33% of the UK’s top 5,000 charity organisations were hit by an increase in fees while 44% saw no change in fees and 19% saw a decrease. The latest data also revealed that 43% of charities have not changed auditor within the last decade. haysmacintyre secured the highest number of new clients during the 2017-18 financial year (25) while Crowe UK netted the highest gain in fee income, worth £534k.
Charity warns of social media addiction
A report by Barnardo's warns that children aged five and under are at risk of developing an addiction to social media. The charity found that 60% of professionals who have experience of dealing with vulnerable children reported concerns about under-fives using social networks, with not only inappropriate content deemed a risk but the children’s communication skills jeopardised. Meanwhile, the impact on the mental health of under-18s of platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter is “disturbing”, according to the report. It states: “Worries regarding addiction and the substitution of time spent with family for the use of social media were issues that were felt to cause problems related to mental health and emotional wellbeing in this age group”. Some 78% of 11 to 15-year-olds were found to have been exposed to inappropriate or harmful content online.
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‘Hidden Harms’ aims to find victims of modern slavery
A new campaign has launched in London to find victims of “hidden crimes” such as modern slavery. The Hidden Harms Project, which is being run in seven languages by charity Crimestoppers, aims to increase reporting of potential offences. All information received will be directly passed to the Metropolitan Police Service, with the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit at the National Crime Agency also involved. The campaign will be funded by a £90,000 donation from the City of London Corporation’s City Bridge Trust and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime.
More counselling needed for care experienced kids
Who Cares Scotland has warned that problems accessing mental health support are putting care experienced children and young people in danger. The charity delivered a letter to Nicola Sturgeon on Friday highlighting the need for better access to counselling and mental health support, with an accompanying report, We don’t have to wait, calling for counselling services to be provided to all care experienced young people as a default, and for the deaths of young people in care to be recorded, with lessons learned from inquiries to be made public.
Schools failing to support bereaved children
Bereaved children are being let down by schools, a charity has warned, because there is no national bereavement policy for schools despite every classroom in the UK containing on average at least one child who has lost a parent or sibling. A study conducted for the charity by researchers at Cambridge University's Faculty of Education on behalf of Winston’s Wish found a "random approach" among schools, with students reporting receiving "only a little or no help at all" following bereavement. Although schools recognise bereavement as a high priority, teachers say they feel ill-equipped to offer support to bereaved children.