Baroness Stowell: Charities not delivering full potential
Charity Commission chair Baroness Stowell has said that charities collectively are not delivering their full potential as sources of belonging and cohesion. Speaking at the regulator's annual public meeting, she said: "charities no longer have the public's benefit of the doubt." "We live in a country and in a time marked by division and tension," she said. The Brexit debate has "laid bare fundamental divides that transcend old right and left differences," and charities should be the "force" healing divisions in society. The Baroness claimed, "charities are not just measured in the worthiness of their cause but measured also in the way that cause is furthered by the behaviours and attitudes displayed." Helen Stephenson, CEO of the Charity Commission, said the regulator's role was to hold charities to account on "public expectation." Stowell added its role is to "help the public see whether or not a charity is behaving and thinking in an authentically charitable way, distinct from the attitudes that might prevail in a commercial organisation that is focused on growth and expansion."
House of Lords celebration for charities’ finance leaders
The beginning of Charity Finance Week was marked in the House of Lords yesterday afternoon, with Baroness Pitkeathley, president of NCVO, addressing 120 charity finance professionals at a reception. She noted that it is the second year Civil Society Media has organised a dedicated week to highlight the important role of finance leaders in the sector. Matthew Nolan, chief executive of Civil Society Media, remarked: "Coming from a finance background myself, I know what a vital role you all play in safeguarding and enhancing the fantastic work of your charities. From financial strategy to compliance to risk management to impact measurement, your influence is far-reaching." Meanwhile, this month’s Charity Finance magazine by Civil Society Media features an article from Kate Sayer, visiting fellow at Cass Business School, which includes a new template for annual reports which will focus more on the difference made by charities.
New charity ambassador for Cancer Support Scotland
Cancer Support Scotland has a new ambassador, with STV television presenter Laura Boyd stating: “I am delighted to be an ambassador for Cancer Support Scotland. It’s a charity I have both used and worked with over the years and I know the services they offer mean so much to so many people – me included.” She continued: “It’s nice to be part of something that can help change lives and I look forward to lending my support going forward.” Meanwhile, Rob Murray, the charity’s chief executive commented: “I’m confident Laura representing our charity and speaking about her experiences will play a positive role in letting young women know of the benefits counselling and complementary therapy can have to those affected by cancer.”
Glasgow City Council faces legal action from Shelter Scotland
Shelter Scotland has started legal action against Glasgow City Council over what it claims are "failings" in its homelessness services. It follows concerns over "gatekeeping", where a homeless person is denied access to services. The charity claims people have been illegally denied a place in temporary accommodation, and is now seeking a judicial review at the Court of Session, following the council's inability to respond to a pre-action letter, which set a deadline of 30 September. Graeme Brown, director of Shelter Scotland, said: "We are not taking this action lightly. We exist to fight for people's rights to a decent home and to stop homelessness happening. By taking legal action we are trying to stop Glasgow City Council denying hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of people their right to a roof over their head. Rights are not a privilege - they are a legal entitlement enforceable by law and the council should not be allowed to disregard the law with impunity." Shelter Scotland has raised more than £15,000 to fund the action, through a crowdfunding campaign.
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Refugee charity complains about UK government funding U-turn
The Scottish Refugee Council has complained after being informed that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, funding to help refugees settle in the UK will come to an end. The charity claims that assurances were previously given by Westminster that funding from the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) would continue to be made available after Britain leaves the European Union, with Sabir Zazai, chief executive of the Scottish Refugee Council stating: "We are shocked and angry about this reversal of assurances given to us by the Home Office last year.” The charity had won a bid last year for £2.2m in funding from the EU’s AMIF funding stream intended to implement activities for the integration of refugees in Scotland, and has now teamed up with fellow recipients the Refugee Council, Refugee Action, Barnet Refugee Service, the Refugee Women’s Association< /strong> and the Refugee Education Training Advice Service to write to Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid. A Home Office spokesperson noted: “We are committed to effective integration… Our focus is on supporting refugees with English language, employment and entrepreneurship, and wellbeing.”
Simplifying the Statement of Financial Activities
Don Bawtree, head of charities at BDO, writes in Civil Society on how a charity’s activities could be given a clearer and more user-friendly portrayal if the statement of financial activities were changed. He notes that charity accounts being too complicated was a theme of the charities SORP governance review published in June, and suggests that some charities have a choice regarding how they prepare their accounts, though "the scope for simplifying the accounting for the vast majority of charities is limited to what can be achieved in practical terms within the boundaries of the existing legislative framework." He also suggests that there is scope to simplify both presentation and some of the accounting policies. He provides an example of what a simplified SoFA form might look like, which "may be seen as offering a way forward in the pursuit of a clearer and more user-friendly presentation that most readers will readily understand."
Hospice funding call
A survey by Hospice UK has revealed that 80% of hospices are planning a deficit budget this financial year. The organisation says funding for Britain’s 200 charitable hospices is under threat, and that care for the dying should rely less on local fundraising and hospice shops. Hospice UK is urging the development of a sustainable solution to meet the increasing demand for this care, with earlier research it carried out showing that over 100,000 people are unable to get the end of life care they require. Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of Hospice UK, commented: “We are gravely concerned about the financial situation of many charitable hospices. This is symptomatic of how the funding model for end of life care as a whole is broken.” She continued: “It no longer reflects the complexity of modern end of life care and what people actually need, nor the immense growing demand for this care.” Hospice Care Week is running this week to celebrate the work of staff and volunteers.
Into-work charity sees 59 jobs at risk
East Lancashire charity Bootstrap Enterprises, which helps unemployed people find work, has gone into administration, with accountants Mazars LLP looking to secure a rescue deal for the organisation. The charity has 59 staff in Blackburn, Burnley, Accrington, Nelson, Clitheroe and Rawtenstall. Cllr Jamie Groves, Blackburn with Darwen Council’s representative on, and chair of, Bootstrap’s board of trustees, remarked: “This is very, very sad news. The charity has done some fantastic work.” Meanwhile, Patrick Lannagan of Mazars LLP said: “Unfortunately the charity has experienced cash flow difficulties which have led the trustees to take the difficult decision to place the company into administration.” He went on: “Our priority is to ensure continuity of service and support for all service users, whilst we work with the company’s committed and experienced staff and contractual partners to find the best solution.”
MS Society in £100m fundraising appeal
The MS Society’s biggest ever public fundraising appeal has been launched, with a goal of raising £100m to fight multiple sclerosis. An advertising campaign will feature people living with the condition to raise funds over a decade-long period. Nick Moberly, chief executive of the charity, noted: "Research has got us to a critical point, and we can see a future where nobody needs to worry about MS getting worse." He went on: "We believe we can stop MS, and the worldwide research community is coming together to help us achieve our ambitious goal. But we need to act now, and we need help." Publicis Health and Mediacom have worked on the campaign with the charity, with award-winning director James Lawes, who has previously directed films for Cancer Research UK and Age UK, also involved. Publicis Health’s chief creative officer Andrew Spurgeon commented: "Our ambition as a company is to create a world where people are equipped and motivated to take control of their health. The Stop MS campaign is the first of hopefully many meaningful CSR collaborations which really brings this to life."
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Climate pledge from fundraisers
In a letter to members this week, Institute of Fundraising (IoF) chief executive Peter Lewis has announced a set of actions to tackle the climate emergency. After a roundtable on fundraising and the environment, among other activities, a series of eight commitments were approved by the organisation’s board. These include collaborating with the charity sector for a stronger voice and embedding climate change as a theme in its work. Mr Lewis noted: “We have been reducing the environmental impact of the Institute over the last few years. But we need to do more.” He went on: “As fundraisers, we have specific opportunities to make essential change. Whether it’s in the choices we make on how we fundraise, the donations we accept or refuse, or through the engagement we have with millions of people who support and donate to charities, we can be part of the change that’s needed.”
Yorkshire schools receive charity boost
The Education Foundation of the Archbishop Holgate Hospital in Hemsworth has awarded more than £40,000 in funding to local schools to help improve lessons and facilities for pupils. The grants have been awarded for a variety of purposes, including the purchase of a learning library, musical instruments and ICT equipment. The Education Foundation of Archbishop Holgate runs alongside the main charity, with the object of promoting education to local people under 25 years who are in need of financial assistance.
Free online safeguarding resources launched by NCVO
NCVO has launched free online resources, including a guide for fundraising managers, intended to help voluntary organisations with their safeguarding. They also include steps that organisations can take to prevent beneficiaries, staff and others from harm, harassment, bullying, abuse and neglect, developed in collaboration with an NCVO-led partnership forming part of phase one of the Safeguarding Training Fund announced in March by the National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The NSPCC, the Ann Craft Trust, UK Youth, Protect, Children England, Charities HR Network, the FSI, NAVCA, ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Action With Communities, National Adult Safeguarding Network, Third Sector Safeguarding Network and the National Youth Safeguarding Forum are also involved with the initiative. Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy, Planning and Communications at the Charity Commission for England and Wales, remarked: "Everyone involved in charities has the right to feel safe… Charities should be places where people know the signs and symptoms of harm and what to do when they have concerns, as well as the understanding that they will be heard."
Essential software for charities
An article on how charities can make use of digital focuses on the best deals and discounts available. The Office 365 suite is listed under the Productivity category, while Xero is included in the accounting section, offering a free 30-day trial, with most packages 50% for the first three months. Social media management can be carried out using Hootsuite, Lightful or TweetDeck, while HR systems such as BreatheHR are tailored especially for charities. Finally, it is noted that security products are available as donations for eligible charities, including Bitdefender, Symantec and most recently Avast, from the Charity Digital Exchange.
Asylum seekers left without hot water
The Asylum Seeker Housing Project has claimed that since September 16, when a centralised UK-wide housing repairs line was established, it has been impossible to get repairs carried out at Home Office-provided accommodation. The charity’s current caseload includes two families left without hot water, including a woman with a young baby and a family with four children, one of whom is disabled, while one person being supported by the charity has had no hot water for almost three weeks, and another has been left without a flushing toilet for 11 days. The new system was put in place when the contract for accommodation moved from Serco to Mears Group, but Sheila Arthur from the charity says calls to the line are rarely picked up.