BULLETIN No. 161: February 2017 My monthly attempt to keep my contacts, friends, friends of friends, etc. in touch with what's going on in the world of charities. A distillation of the many briefings that arrive on my desk, plus whatever I've gleaned ...

 

 
 


 

   

BULLETIN No. 161: February 2017

My monthly attempt to keep my contacts, friends, friends of friends, etc. in touch with what's going on in the world of charities. A distillation of the many briefings that arrive on my desk, plus whatever I've gleaned from charities I'm currently working with. Always glad to get your comments and suggestions.

Daryl Martin

d.martin@afvs.org.uk

What do we have this month?

1. Fundraising Regulator
2. What Structure is Appropriate for Your Charity
3. Reserves Policy
4. Village Hall Under the Cosh
5. Do Your Contracts Need Updating
6. Dangers of Keeping Too Many Eggs in One Basket
7. AFVS Charity Toolkit
8. Trustee Training
9. Fake Appeals
10. Data Protection
11. Outsourcing
12. AFVS Resources
13. And Finally...

1. Fundraising Regulator
The Charity Commission recently referred a charity to the Fundraising Regulator to investigate. Clearly, they are going to be working closely together when they have concerns. My hope is that the regulator won’t see charities which in the main are doing a good job, as the enemy, but they will increasingly act as a critical friend. Some charities do need a good kicking, but most of them need encouragement and advice. By the end of December, the Regulator had received 439 complaints and are currently investigating 19. Charities are encouraged to register with the Regulator, and for 50 quid you’ll be able to include their logo in your material. The Code of Practice runs to 76 pages. To help you stay sane we’ve summarised it for you, (still, runs to 5,000 words and 13 pages).

 

2. What Structure is Appropriate for Your Charity
There’s a steady movement of unincorporated charities converting to CIOs, and I regularly visit trustees thinking of doing this to explain what’s involved. I prepared a briefing this month outlining the differences between the different structures. (Actually, I stole most of the material from my colleague Rachel, but I did bring it up to date.). It might spare you the cost of a visit, or at least prepare the ground, so I have time to talk about other issues. Ask us for a free copy.

 

3. Reserves Policy
One of our members had an observation from one of their funders that their reserves are too high which might impact their future grants programme. Reserves are a matter for trustees to decide, there are no hard and fast rules. Too high and you risk losing funding; too low and you might be seen as a risk. If you need help deciding what’s right for you ask for our briefing on the subject. Don’t forget that the risk currently associated with the impact of Brexit should be factored in.

 

4. Village Hall Under the Cosh
Louise Beaton, our valued associate who specialises in village halls, expressed sympathy for a very small village hall charity when it was criticised recently by the Charity Commission. She felt it rather heavy handed to issue a report naming and shaming a rural village hall. Where they are they probably have rubbish broadband, she said, with hard-pressed trustees busy on their own affairs, who misunderstood instructions on the CC website. The Regulator doesn’t always get it right, though they’ll be better resourced when they start levying fees which is probably inevitable now. However small you are, you must ensure you follow the correct procedures and respond to any reminders. Louise will be delighted to hear from any community hall trustees who need her help. (www.communityhallsadvice.co.uk)

 

5. Do Your Contracts Need Updating
We’re getting requests to help charities update their employment contracts. Let us know if it’s time yours were looked at. If you work with contractors, anyone with self-employed status, you should have an appropriate contract in place to keep you safe. It’s not good practice to rely on verbal agreements however much you all trust one another. We’re always glad to help in these situations.

 

6. Dangers of Keeping Too Many Eggs in One Basket
Local authorities keep having to adjust their budgets and local charities they’ve supported for many years are getting their grants reduced or even stopped, meaning the charity either has to shut down or make the shortfall good from other areas. Don’t take your funders for granted and try to avoid over-reliance on one source. We can work with you to put a strategy together if you need help.

 

7. AFVS Charity Toolkit
My colleague Jo just sent me the latest edition of our Toolkit which now contains a completely new section on Charity VAT, written by Les Howard, a widely-respected charity VAT specialist. (Always there if you need reliable guidance on charity VAT.) This link will take you to a list of contents to give you an idea of what else the Toolkit contains.

 

8. Trustee Training
Boards are increasingly becoming aware that a solid briefing will help them stay up to date and safe. I work through my Toolkit, providing the back stories on why it’s important to keep governance in good order. I focus on simplicity and proportionality amongst other things. E-mail if you’d like me to show up at one of your board meetings. Flexible on content and costs.

 

9. Fake Appeals
Many charities use their funds to support other charities. Worth watching out for fake appeals that drop into our inbox. Currently, Action Fraud is investigating a migrant helpline and a fake animal welfare charity. Often the fraudsters clone a genuine charity and it can be hard to tell the difference. Take care; if you click the links, you’re in danger of downloading a Trojan which can steal your information. Before donating make sure you’ve verified the charity in some way. Better to send your donation directly rather than on-line. Charities can visit www.charitiesagainstfraud.org.uk for advice and top tips on how to protect their charity against fraud.

 

10. Data Protection
Probably mentioning this issue too much recently, but I read that a couple of charities have had to pay nearly £50k in fines. Apparently, they get 20% off if they pay up swiftly. A big issue for small charities is the amount of sensitive information held on personal laptops and even smartphones. Make sure you have a robust policy. I’ve a note to send out our sample policies; let me know if this would help you.

 

11. Outsourcing
Smaller charities are increasingly looking at this option, especially when they lose a long-standing administrator who has carried the burden of running the charity, leaving the trustees to pick up the pieces. It can be particularly helpful on the financial management side of things. A good outsourcing arrangement will leave the trustees free to carry on the mission-related work they’ve been called to do. We provide a range of services tailored to different sizes of charities, mostly in London, but what works there will work elsewhere. Significant cost savings can be enjoyed, up to 35%, I’m told. Another benefit is that the charity has access to expertise that might otherwise be beyond their means.

 

12. AFVS Resources
This year we’ve extended our advice and support services. We can now help with:

All aspects of accounts including yearend and bookkeeping
Outsourcing
HR support
Legal advice
Fundraising
Training
General Advice and Consultancy
Extensive library of briefings and policy templates (No need for you to re-invent the wheel)

Contact us anytime if you need help in any of these areas.

13. And Finally...

(this bulletin pretty much writes itself, but I spend more time agonising on this bit than all the rest put together. This is something I posted on FB; it got a record (for me) number of likes and re-posts).

A blessing on my readers to start the month. Find somewhere quiet to sit and read slowly.

Go Peaceful
Go peaceful
in gentleness
Through the violence of these days.
Give freely
Show tenderness
In all your ways.

Through darkness
In troubled times
Let holiness be your aim.
Seek wisdom
Let faithfulness
Burn like a flame

Be righteous
Speak truthfully
In a world of greed and lies.
Show kindness
See everyone
Through Heaven's Eyes.

God hold you
God enfold you
And keep you wrapped around his heart.
May you be known by love (Paul Field)

Go well. Enjoy the spring weather. Thank you for your encouraging messages. We look forward to hearing from you with your questions, your suggestions, your requests for help and advice. If you find this bulletin helpful, please take a moment to pass it onto others who might appreciate it.

Daryl Martin

 

 

  

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