What a week! Village Halls Week celebrations

Cambridgeshire ACRE's Community Buildings Service

Last week was amazing, lots of cake, tea and bunting – what could be better!  We celebrated at two events where Hallmark Certificates were presented.  Little Downham Village Hall received Hallmark 1 and Mandeville Hall received Hallmark 2&3 – the first hall in the county to receive Hallmark 3!


Village Halls trustees also celebrated by congratulating and thanking volunteers for all their hard work.  Horningsea Pavilion thanked their long serving Booking Secretary and Coton Village Hall thanked their dedicated caretakers as two examples.

Horningsea_presentationcoton village hall caretaker volunteers

Sue Marchant from BBC radio Cambridgeshire covered Village Halls Week in her daily afternoon radio show.  Sue visited halls from around the county and did some lovely interviews with trustees and users of village halls, it was really wonderful to have Sue involved for the whole week.

Sue Marchant talks to Anne Bullman, Chair

There are so many photos we could share from this fabulous week.  Thank you to everyone who took the time to take part…

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Crowdfunding is the next big thing – or at least I think it is.

It is a sad reflection on my life that I was excited when someone sent me the following link https://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/lessons-four-years-running-uks-first-crowdfunding-platform-directory-crowdingincom A blog on crowdfunding and how it had grown. This is important to me and all the groups we at CCVS support.

crowdfunding_graphSo I was a little disappointed about the lack of real meat in this blog. Yes crowdfunding has grown, yes there are many platforms out there to choose from, and yes the bulk of the money raised goes to the private sector. I knew all this but it does not help me to convert others to the potential of trying a new way of raising funds. Thanks to NESTA for the graph.

What do I need as someone who advises charities and community groups on fundraising?

  1. I want a comparison of the platforms,
  2. I want to know how many of the pitches are successful on each platform.
  3. I want to know how much money is raised on each platform,
  4. I want to know which platform offers the best support,
  5. I want to know about integration with social media, exciting ‘add ons’ for poor charities.
  6. I want to know what each platform charges in upfront costs and fees and creditcard fees etc.

I need to have evidence to persuade people to give it a go. So how much has Crowdfunding grown; what do we know about those who donate this way; are rewards based campaigns better than other types.

Finally some analysis of what makes a successful campaign. More videos, more updates, smaller targets, stretch targets, personal testimony, different client groups.

I need to know as much as this as possible if I am to change minds and expand the uptake of Crowdfunding with the types of groups I support (generally those with income below £50K).

ChuffedWe have a good relationship with www.chuffed.org , not because this is necessarily a better platform but because the training they help us deliver is not all about the platform, but ultimately about how to run a good campaign. They don’t sugar coat it, they don’t say it will be easy, they are clear that to succeed you have to put the time and effort in.

If Crowdfunding were easy we would all be doing it and the funding crisis for small organisations would be confined to history. That is not the case, as with any fundraising you have to have a plan, you have to know what you are trying to change, who you are working with, and why people should support you. I believe that Crowdfunding is something more small charities and voluntary groups should be doing. To make the change I would really like more research into what why and how so I can prove my gut feeling to people, that Crowdfunding can help more organisations and causes.

The research may be out there, if so let me know. If not I challenge NCVO, NESTA and all the others who research into the sector to look at crowdfunding. Maybe start a longitudinal study so we can look at trends. Rank the different platforms based on success rates (or maybe don’t). But give me the ammunition to convince organisations that they need to try this new form of fundraising.

2017 Community Buildings survey results launched

Cambridgeshire ACRE's Community Buildings Service

Survey 2017

During October and November of this year village hall and community building trustees received several communications from me encouraging them to take part in our annual village halls and community building surveys.  I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who took the time to respond.

Our annual survey of community facilities gives us unique insight into the challenges faced and allows us to develop Cambridgeshire ACRE village halls service to reflect trustees needs so you get more out of being a member.

The results report has just been published on our website so please click here to take a look.

The key actions we will take forward in 2018 include:

  • Continue to work with trustees to help them understand and fulfil the terms of their governing documents.
  • Look at the timings of community buildings networking and learning events to ensure that trustees who work are able to attend wherever possible by holding some future events in evenings or at…

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24 Charity Tips for Christmas

24 tips to Christmas

This December we will be publishing a new tip for each day in December up to Christmas day. We will update this blog as we add the tips. Follow on Twitter with #24charitytipstochristmas or on Facebook

Video is such a great way of telling a story. Looking for simple film and video examples of how to inspire, excite or challenge? Watch the winners of the @CharityFilm_ 2017 awards ow.ly/3taQ30gWmfw #24charitytipstochristmas
Are your volunteers aware of the Equality Act? If a volunteer is carrying out your instructions the law considers them your agent and you can be held legally responsible for what they do. Train your volunteers properly.#24charitytipstochristmashttp://ow.ly/XREI30gRZgQ
Groups need and benefit from a diverse range of volunteers. Greater diversity means more volunteers, increase in activities, and more involvement with the community. Check out this great factsheet from @WalesCVA  http://www.wcva-ids.org.uk/wcva/1048 #24charitytipstochristmas
Planning a new project? Want to improve your #fundraising? Use the @cambridgecvs project proposal template http://www.cambridgecvs.org.uk/group-support/Writing%20Successful%20Funding%20Applications  #24charitytipstochristmas
Whilst joining @cambridgecvs is essential, @NCVO have loads of great training and information and membership is free to organisations that have an income less than £30K https://www.ncvo.org.uk/about-us/join-ncvo #24charitytipstochristmas
Monitor from the start of your project:

Develop your base line and the impact, so you can show your organisations success.

Future proof it so it can capture the changes you are trying to make.

http://www.cambridgecvs.org.uk/download/32 #24charitytipstochristmas

There are 4 main types of charity structure. charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), charitable company (limited by guarantee), unincorporated association and trust find out more at https://www.gov.uk/guidance/charity-types-how-to-choose-a-structure  #24charitytipstochristmas
When you DBS check your volunteers ensure they register for the update service. This means that they can show their DBS checks to other charities and it doesn’t go out of date. The service is free for volunteers. https://www.gov.uk/dbs-update-service #24charitytipstochristmas
If you are going to be making applications be prepared with your proof of need:

Do your basic research now and keep it up to date

Know where to find statistical information

Check out @CambsInsight for local information http://cambridgeshireinsight.org.uk/ #24charitytipstochristmas

If your community group has an income that is more than £5000 a year you need to register with @ChtyCommission https://www.gov.uk/setting-up-charity/register-your-charity #24charitytipstochristmas
If a volunteer produces an original work in the course of their volunteering then they own the copyright and their permission is required in order to reproduce or change it. @wcavaorg have a good information sheet https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BxM5UHfVB7YWRVZVMmNZOGV5Nmc


We think @canva is a great free tool for designing your graphics. Registered charities can apply for a free CANVA for work licence. https://www.canva.com/ #24charitytipstochristmas
Be aware of the impact of communication and words in relation to social issues and challenges people face. Nobody likes to be labelled. Words can be discriminating and disempowering. Check out this free online training from @OpenUniversity http://www.open.edu/openlearn/education/key-skill-assessment-communication/content-section-0?active-tab=description-tab# #24charitytipstochristmas
A smile is nice, and it costs nothing. Not especially a #24charitytipstochristmas but it was a picture on my grandparents bathroom wall and is important! http://users.chariot.net.au/~kday/thoughtsandpoems.html#Smile
Managing your finances is important. It cannot be left to just the treasurer; all trustees are responsible. http://www.cambridgecvs.org.uk/media/Document/239/document/keeping%20simple%20accounts%20CCVS.pdf  #24charitytipstochristmas
Be a listening organisation by going out, asking and be open to hear new things:

Make consultation part of your culture (encourage, value and welcome it)

Develop the tools (Newssheets/ meetings/ informal chats)

Record and share the feedback You can checkout all the @cambridgecvs survey results http://www.cambridgecvs.org.uk/about-us/Annual%20Survey%20of%20Cambridgeshire%20VCS #24charitytipstochristmas

Under 16’s volunteering on a profit-making activity such as a in a charity shop need a work permit to be obtained from the local authority. Read the factsheet from @CharityRetail https://www.charityretail.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2015/01/Under-16-Volunteers-and-Employees.pdf #24charitytipstochristmas
Be inclusive – Don’t assume. Consider the individual, talk to them about their needs, they know best what will work for them. Keep an open mind. How we talk and think has a massive impact. Check out this old @buffer article @https://open.buffer.com/7-simple-ways-to-to-be-more-inclusive-in-work-and-life/ #24charitytipstochristmas
Our 5 top tips for fundraising start with ‘Develop your project first’ find out what the rest are at https://ccvsblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/14/the-five-top-tips-for-winning-at-grants/ #24charitytipstochristmas
Build Partnerships with and between other community groups, your parish/town council etc

Start now rather than waiting for the funding opportunity so you can show partnership working already happening in your application. Check out this advice http://www.cambridgecvs.org.uk/group-support/Working%20in%20Partnership #24charitytipstochristmas

#Trustees have overall control of a #charity and are responsible for making sure it’s doing what it was set up to do. Read more at http://www.cambridgecvs.org.uk/group-support/Governance%20 #24charitytipstochristmas
Every organisation in the UK that employs one member of staff or more is required by law to have an active Employers’ Liability Insurance policy in place according to the Employers’ Liability Insurance Act 1969. #24charitytipstochristmas
There are no restrictions on #volunteering for people from within the EU/European Economic Activity (EEA) area. However, for people outside the EEA, there are various restrictions based on what type of visa they are travelling on. https://knowhownonprofit.org/people/volunteers/recruiting/volunteers-from-overseas #24charitytipstochristmas
New Year Resolution – join @cambridgecvs. It’s much cheaper than joining the gym and will keep your organisation fit and healthy through 2018. http://www.cambridgecvs.org.uk/join-us #24charitytipstochristmas

I am all for the real Living Wage But……

living wage weekThis blog follows Living Wage Week and the announcement of the new Real Living Wage levels.

To begin with let me be perfectly clear, I think the Real Living Wage is a good idea. CCVS supports and encourages all organisations to pay the Real Living Wage where ever possible. CCVS pays the Real Living Wage. But we are not registered, and here lies one of my issues.

The Living Wage Foundation are the people who set (through the Living Wage Commission) what the Real Living Wage should be. They are also the people that accredit employers as being a Living Wage employer and let you use their logo. Recently they are also authors on a report into low pay in the Charity sector.

Currently the lowest cost to register as a Real Living Wage employer is £60. For this you get nothing apart from the use of the logo and some publicity. I have asked, and will continue to ask, why registration for small charities can’t be free. I know there is a sliding scale for registration based on numbers of employers, with the lowest figure being for those employing 10 or less people. I think that at this level it should be free, if not for everyone at least for those who are ‘not for profit’. I think that £60 is not a good use of charitable money given what you receive for this. This is simply a money generating exercise for the Foundation. For my £60 I would want more than a gif file and a little sticker to put on the office window.

Could this become an issue?

Many funders have started asking the question of applicants “are you a Real Living Wage employer”, as yet they do not demand that you are registered. This means that we tick ‘yes’ as we do pay all staff over the minimum amount; we also ensure that our suppliers (in our case this is just the cleaning company who service the office) pay the Real Living Wage. We have therefore jumped through the registration hoops, and as long as funders accept this on faith, and do not demand registration we are fine. My guess is that at some stage they will want proof, and the easiest way for them to get that proof is to demand registration as then the Living Wage Foundation do the work.

What we pay staff is important.

Pay in the charity sector is always an issue, if you think otherwise read the comments from this post from one of the more socialist leaning Facebook pages

What we pay staff at both ends of the spectrum is important, as is how we report it. We need to pay people a fair wage for a good day’s work. the Real Living Wage is the current best indicator of this. I would love to display the Real Living Wage Logo and get the positive publicity that it brings. At some stage I think I will have to forgo my principles and pay their registration fee, my trustees will rightly make that call hopefully having listened to my case first. Regardless of this we can look at other ways to show that we are responsible and caring employers. One thing we can do is publish the salary of our senior managers, so in the spirit of openness CCVS pays their CEO £37,400 a year plus a pension contribution worth up to an extra £2,805. We will look at where we declare this on our website.

Equality is important.

As well as the minimum and maximum we pay I think that the ratio between highest and lowest is also an important indicator. We are all about equality and fairness in the sector and whilst different jobs will have different salaries is anyone really worth 10 or 20 times more than someone else in the organisation. NCVO and others have called for charities to publish their salary ratios. Latest figures show that at NCVO the ratio is 1:3.8 but this is the highest salary to the median salary, similarly Save the Children is 1:4 (again using the median not the lowest salary). There is more data on lots of organisations here, but much of this is out of date. The Guardian wrote in 2014 that for charities with 100 – 500 employees the ratio was 1:5.

Once again in the spirit of openness the CCVS ration is 1:1.8 based on the lowest and not the median salary. My guess is that many small organisations will have ratios similar to ours, and possibly lower. Small staff teams and smaller budgets will inevitably be reflected in lower ratios. I also imagine that many small organisations would find themselves as Real Living Wage employers as small numbers of staff in specialist roles will mean that most will earn over £16,835 a year which is what the living wage equates to for a 37-hour week.

For many small charities recognition that they are paying a fair wage would be important. We do not exist to rip people off or impoverish them as we go about our work to help others. I would suggest that organisations published this type of data, that they were given free registration, and that trustees continued to ensure their staff were treated fairly whilst using their charitable income to the best effect.

Interns, Volunteers and the Unemployed.

There is another blog here. Suffice to say that all interns should be paid the Real Living Wage. Volunteers are fantastic, essential and invaluable – but they must not be used to replace redundant staff to simply save money. If the Real Living Wage represents the amount you need to earn to live why are first year apprentices only paid £3.50 an hour, and why are benefits capped at £1.98 an hour? Surely those in training and those who are unemployed have to survive as well.