Picking a fundraising site

I tap to buy my sandwich, I order books by asking Alexa, if I need cash then I have to raid my kids money boxes!

As more people become more used to paying electronically it is essential that small charities and community groups are able to collect money using cards and online. This is where the plethora of funding sites came in, all are different, all charge different amounts and it is important that you pick the one that best suits your needs. If, like us, you were signed up to BT Mydonate then you will have had the email that they are closing it, and you will need to find an alternative.

 ImageCreator – http://www.imagecreator.co.uk/

I have been inundated with options and adverts since complaining on Twitter that the closure would affect many small organisations

So here are the CCVS thoughts on choosing which site to use. There is no simple answer, you need to do some research. Have a look at the sites and see which have the features you want. This will depend on the type of fundraising you do, and how much you raise from the site. It will also depend on how much you get for any donation once fees, card fees and Gift Aid is taken into account. So shop around, we will not be recommending one site over another!

Luckily some people have done some comparisons.

Money saving Expert has done some analysis back in January

Third sector magazine did an article in July 2018

UK Fundraising did an article in Feb 2018

White Fuse who are a Fundraising and membership management service have done a comparison since the closure of MyDonate

Charity Digital News did a comparison that includes a lot of the smaller sites as well

These all cover the main sites but there are hundreds out there. We advise caution about using the smaller ones without proper research. That said they may be exactly what you need.

It is worth noting that a number of platforms are offering specials in relation to the fact that people will be changing. These include reductions or waivers of setup or monthly platform costs. So do shop around, it could be that there are some good deals.

Still confused? We will be running a course on digital fundraising and crowd fundraising at the end of April 2019 so keep an eye on our training and events page.

If you found this article useful then do please donate here

(which is still our BT MyDonate page until we do our own exercise to decide where to change to).

Three things that small charities want to say about commissioning

Lots has been written about commissioning, much of it focused on big national projects, much of it focused on failure. This article is focused on the local and the small. The first thing to say is that this is not a criticism, we understand the funding constraints that local government are under, we understand that at the heart of it local government workers and local councillors are as passionate about people and communities as we in the community and charity sector are. But before you write that paper or take that vote please give these three points some thought.

1 Commissioning is ultimately about people and communities.

The paper you are writing or voting on about the latest commissioning proposal might be motivated by finding savings or rationalising delivery. But ultimately it is about people and their wellbeing. What you decide will make an impact (positively or negatively) on people and communities. Small charities and community groups are integral to the health of communities and the people who live in them. Local services add value whoever they are delivered by. When thinking about commissioning you need to think how your decisions will impact on the wider community and not just about how a service in isolation will look.

2 Is commissioning really the best way to deliver?

Can better results be achieved through grants or controversially by delivering services in house. There is a growing recognition that contracts are not always the best way forward. Whether this is down to the collapse of Carillion nationally, the failure of some large charities like 4Children or Lifeline who aggressively pursued contracts or more locally with the demise of Uniting Care Partnership, there is a move to look at alternatives. Much has been written about the benefits of grants, not least in the fact that it shares some of the risk between the charitable sector and the statutory sector. Grants can increase innovation, as you are not as likely to stipulate a model of working and it leaves small groups to adapt to local circumstances. Grants to small groups will bring value added as often they utilise volunteers to enable better value, or they are able to help with associated issues rather than just tick the contractual box.

3 If you are commissioning be inclusive.

Sometimes commissioning will be the best or only way to proceed, and if this is the case then everything needs to be done to be inclusive to smaller local participants. The move to bigger contracts may seem to offer better value but often this is a false economy, and at the same time bundling contracts into a bigger package means smaller more specialist local providers may be unable to bid as they can not take on the whole contract. Social value should be given its rightful place in deciding on the contract, this is a legal requirement and helps non-profit providers demonstrate the added value they are often able to bring to delivering a service. Finally, if you are commissioning please do not ask providers to jump through excessive hoops, this will disadvantage smaller organisations without the experienced commissioning teams and means many great providers fall at the first hurdle. The law has to be adhered to, but sometimes legal teams are so risk adverse that their interpretation can exclude the best providers.

There are good examples of commissioning and good examples of where commissioning has been avoided in favour of different funding models. We believe that local delivery by not for profit organisations has many advantages; it keeps the money spent in the local economy; it adds social value through the use of volunteers and fundraising; it invests all the money into delivering the service and not delivering a return to shareholders; it contributes to healthy and resilient communities. In short we want all those who decide on how to deliver services to remember these three things

  • If you have to commission do it in a way that enables smaller local providers.
  • Think carefully if there is a better alternative to commissioning
  • In all your deliberations remember the impact will affect the lives of real people and the communities they, and you, live and work in.

Please contact mark@cambridgecvs.org.uk if you would like to discuss this further.

Adult Education – A chance for charities to take part in commissioning

The Adult Education Budget for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is moving to the Combined Authority (CA) from next April. They have now started the process about how provision will be procured and if you want a slice of the pie don’t drink too much over New Year as you will need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed on 2nd January to start looking at making your application.

We here at CCVS are still getting our heads round how all this will work having attended a recent workshop, but fair to say it is not only us with the new CA admitting that they have been on a steep learning curve over the last eight months. There are a couple of sets of slides from the recent workshop that we will make available if we get them, and anyone who is thinking of bidding will need to get to grips with the CA skills strategy which is yet to be published, but more info on the priorities etc can be found here. http://cambridgeshirepeterborough-ca.gov.uk/about-us/programmes/adult-education-budget/

UPDATE. This page now contains copies of the slides from the presentations as well as a summary of the questions and answers from both workshops.

The timetable for this is, in the words of the CA

“We now intend to publish our SSQ and ITT on Wednesday 2 January 2019, following which will be a 38-day tendering period, closing on Friday 8 February 2019.

Evaluation of all SSQ’s and ITT’s will take place in February/March with contracts being awarded in early April.

Second Market Engagement Workshop – Early December 2018

Standard Selection Questionnaire and Invitation to Tender issued – Early January 2019

SSQ and ITT deadline submission date – Early February 2019

Evaluation of tender submission – February/March 2019

Contract award date – Early April 2019

Full AEB devolution – August 2019″

The budget for 2019-20 will be around £12.1 million. Of this around £9 million will go to the main provides, predominantly the big colleges. This leaves around £3 million for more local provision. That will be what this procurement round will be for. We think there may also be some small grants as a tender to run a programme was released but this is not guaranteed, we will keep you updated on this as we can.

What we gleaned from our workshop, this was what we heard and will need to be clarified if you want to bid.

  • There will be about £3 million available to tender for
  • There will be no minimum or maximum contract size (update there will be a £50K minimum now)
  • The process will involve formal online tendering
  • Although you will be bidding for 1 year this will decide the delivery partners for the next 3 years. If you don’t get in now there will not be another window for at least 3 years.
  • There will be an emphasis on accredited training, but if what you do is pre accreditation level or you use successful unaccredited training to move people on then there will be some weight given to this – but not lots from what we heard
  • The new team want to hear from you if you have any questions or comments. Importantly if you do apply and are unsure ring them do not make assumptions.
  • The process will be by the book, do exactly what they ask and do not try and simply bend the application to fit your work, it will not score well.
  • They are open to consortia bids, but please talk to them first. This is partly because they are putting a 20% cap on what can be outsourced.
  • There are likely to be separate priorities for Cambridge, Peterborough and the rural bits in-between.
  • The funding criteria and I assume cost per learner are not set by the CA, they are using national guidelines.
  • This will be quite an onerous application process so if you going to do it start early, there will be no extensions.
  • If you are successful you will be subject to the audit rules for this funding, this will include recording information on the Individual Learner Record (ILR), make sure you think about admin within any budgets.

One of the advantages of this move to the CA is that it may well have allowed additional money to be drawn into the area and this money will not be clawed back if there is a year 1 underspend. That said they are still looking at how they deal with possible underspends.

The other key advantage is that they appear to be starting from scratch, and the long tail of old providers have to join the party anew. This means that we should be able to address the fact that many local providers were not able to get a foot in the door. That said those who were at my event included people from Suffolk, from Boston, a national org based in Hemel Hempstead, from People Plus formally A4E and a number of other national providers.

My one concern was about the weight given to social value and the Social Value Act. I felt that the answer to my question on how this would be taken into account was vague with a reply that there was a question about it in the ITT but no idea on weighting. I have not been impressed about how any of the local commissioning has addressed social value, but we will have to wait to see if it would score extra to be a local provider using local people to deliver locally etc. We will be pushing the CA to give due consideration to the Social Value Act so that local non profit providers are given the extra makes for all the added value they bring.

We are not the experts on this but we are happy to have a conversation with anyone with any questions. That said the CA stressed how approachable they are so maybe go directly to them.