Why we need to deliver angrily

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This blog is about why we as a sector need to be angry. It sets out my thoughts on why we need to deliver angrily and starts to think about how we might communicate our anger. The blog was inspired by the latest CCVS research.

Gordon Brown wrote in the Guardian that

“For the first time since the welfare state was created, it is the food bank, not social security, that is now our safety net, and charity, not universal credit, that is our last line of defence.”

Foodbanks have become the norm, so much so that we have seen politicians visiting, opening, and congratulating them on their work.

We are helping set up warm hubs because people can’t heat their homes.

More people are losing their homes as they find rent, mortgage or energy costs spiralling.

Everyone working in the sector will have their own story. They have told us how demand has increased. How the people they help have more complex needs as they cannot get access to services.

Yet as a sector we quite rightly try to do that bit more, raise that bit of extra funding, ask those volunteers to do that one extra shift. The sector quite rightly doubles down and keeps delivering. that is how it should be. that is what you do.

But if our research has shown anything it is not a bottomless pot of capacity, organisations and individuals are stretched. We know staff have left; volunteers not returned after the pandemic. We know that money is harder to come by but still we keep delivering, right up to the point where we can’t anymore.

Gordon Brown goes on to say

“Just as need rises, our country’s voluntary sector finds itself as beleaguered as the people it is helping. Compassion is not running out but cash is. Donors who have a little and generously give to those who have nothing will soon be unable to give at all. Gifts left on supermarket trolleys are declining. Many charities, like a local welfare fund I know, are flat broke. Even churches, which have selflessly offered their heated halls to help elderly people stay warm, fear they will now struggle to pay their own fuel bills.”

So, what are we, what are you going to do about it?

I suggest that you start to deliver angrily.

That is not to direct anger at those you work with, for them you will be the helpful, approachable, non-judgemental professionals you have always been.

  • Reserve that anger for the people who have put us and more importantly those we work with in this position.
  • Reserve your anger for those that spread the myths of the striver and the shirker.
  • Reserve your anger for those that blame the people in need and t those who make decisions that are about preserving their power or their fortune.
  • Reserve your anger for those that deny there is a problem or offer too little too late

Those people need to hear the roar of the small charity and the community group.

Too often the voices of our larger cousins in the charitable world are lost or are just one side of a balanced news item or are dismissed as fake news.

But when the thousands of small charities raise their voices how powerful could that become.

I ask you to tell your stories and those of the people you work with

I ask that you make more opportunities to explain why you have to exist and what you are dealing with

I ask you to call out the consequences of decision makers at all levels.

I ask you tell people what needs to change so that your services are no longer needed, however unlikely that is to be the case.

I ask you to join together with other local voices to amplify your message.

Your organisations should not be the safety net, they should be the support that helps people get off the net once you have landed on it or the harness that ensures people do not fall onto the net.

It is no longer enough to just be brilliant at what you do. I am asking you to shout. To stamp your feet, to demand change.

I am asking you to deliver angrily

6 essential tips when thinking about charity monitoring and evaluation.

No one (or at least almost no one) goes into working or volunteering for a charity or community group to do evaluation, because they love data, or they like filling in forms. But the reality is that as soon as you start delivering a service or an activity you should be thinking about how you will understand the difference it is making and how successful it is.
The chances are that if you are receiving funding it is likely that whoever gave you the money will ask for a report. If you have trustees or a committee they need to know you are doing what you are supposed to be doing and will need to see the ‘proof’. Monitoring and evaluation should not just be a chore that you have to do to get funding, it should be something built into the very bones of your organisation or group.
This blog gives our 6 essential tips, but if you want to know more check out the CCVS training or that offered by other local and national support bodies.

1 - It has to be useful to you not just a chore imposed by others

If monitoring and evaluation is simply something you do because others have ‘forced’ you then it is only ever going to be a chore and you will have missed out on important learning.

Look for ways that allow you to meet the needs of lots of different stakeholders at the same time. But also make sure the process is working for the organisation. It is your opportunity to get information that helps tell your story and to promote your successes. How much better to say that we helped groups gain £10 million in income rather than that 50 people came to our fundraising training.

2 - You have to think about this at the start of the project

If you get to the end of a project and only then think about the evaluation and monitoring it will be much harder or impossible to do.

You need to start thinking about this aspect of the project as you are planning the project. Start thinking about what you are trying to change, how you might measure this and how you will capture the data you need. If the monitoring and evaluation takes place throughout the project then there are opportunities to change how you do things to improve what you offer. Also by making sure you are taking the time to collect data as you go it will give you more to work with when you have to report.

There is also a chance that collecting feedback and data as you go will give you useful quotes etc to help tell your story, and also help you to raise additional funding by helping to answer those questions about need, about clients informing your work as well as about the difference you make. Never under estimate the value of a good quote from someone who has used your services, and more importantly never feel shy about using it at every possible opportunity.

3 - It does not have to be complicated, but there is some jargon

There are some common words that you will need to get your head around so that you can be sure you are doing what will be most useful and informative for you and other stakeholders.

You will need to get your head around the inputs and outputs, the outcomes and impacts, qualitative and quantitative. A good place to start is the NCVO website or the NPC website or sign up to one of our training sessions.

Once you have mastered some of the language, what you are monitoring and how you evaluate it does not have to be complicated. It is important that what you do reflects the size of the project you are doing, and that it enables you to answer the questions you need answering and show the difference you are making. For a small project it may simply be about collecting numbers of attendees and where they are from, but if you can add some feedback in the form of quotes or produce a case study this will help add depth to your report.

4 - There are lots of ways to collect data - be creative

Sometimes it will not be possible to measure what you want to know about. Sometimes there will not be an obvious way to look at the difference you make. This does not mean you can’t evaluate your work and monitor things.

You may have to think about proxy indicators that allow you to show your difference with your time scale and budget. If you work with young people you can’t tell if your project has kept them out of prison, but you may be able to get feedback about how positive they are about their life following your activity.

Also think about how you can be creative in getting feedback in a way that is suitable for your audience. This could involve using technology or art but it does not always have to be a happy sheet or an interview. There are loads of resources on this as well as how to be more creative about how you use data.

NPC https://www.thinknpc.org/resource-hub/the-cycle-of-good-impact-practice-creative-methods/ and from Catalyst https://www.thecatalyst.org.uk/resource-articles/using-data-better-charity#

5 - How you present your findings is important

If your data is not understandable, then there is no point having it. If it is not presented in an engaging way no one will read it.

Loads of people have written about this and there are example blogs from the US and from Just Giving.

You have to find ways to engage people and to tell a compelling story. At the same time, you may want to think about what platforms you will be sharing on and ensure that any reports or slides etc are able to work for you across different platforms and with different audiences.

6 - Learn from the feedback don't just ignore it.

It may seem obvious but how many reports are produced and then simply put on a shelf and ignored.

If you have gone to the effort of doing the monitoring and evaluation make sure you use it. This is about shouting about the difference you make. It is about looking at ways that you can improve and build on the work you are doing. It is about using what you find to demonstrate need if you want to look for extra or continuation funding. The chances are that once you have the data then it will be useful in producing your annual report and review. It will be useful to trustees to enable them to see that the charity is doing what it should. Think about how you can make the information you have work as hard as possible for you.

This is part of telling your story and all charities should be looking at how they do that. Tips on this from CAF and Charity Digital. Also keep an eye out for the CCVS training on telling stories.

Quote from Melissa Steginus "Review is essential to evaluation, which is essential to progress."

Evaluation has to be linked to everything you do. Done well

  • you will be able to find solutions that will address the needs of many different stakeholders.
  • it will tell your story and prove your worth.
  • you will clearly see what was good, not so good and what was excellent and you will be able to deliver better and better projects.

The NPC website has some brilliant resources https://www.thinknpc.org/starting-to-measure-your-impact/ as does NCVO https://www.ncvo.org.uk/help-and-guidance/strategy-and-impact/impact-evaluation/#/  

Tips for supervising volunteers

By Chris Trevorrow. August 2022.

Our recent workshop on supervision skills for those managing volunteers, shared tips on how best to manage the supervision. 

Prepare

  • What has happened since the last meeting with the volunteer?
  • Are there any current issues involving the volunteer? If you need to give critical feedback do your homework first.
  • Is there any news you wish to share with them?
  • Have you set aside enough time and space?  Don’t take calls or allow interruptions.  Decide how long the supervision should be and arrange the meeting with the volunteer letting them know how long to allow.  Be prepared to manage the time.
  • Make the setting friendly and informal? Don’t use the desk as a barrier, maybe offer a drink, check the volunteer is comfortable, and check if they have any time constraints.

For first time supervision: explain to the volunteer in advance what the meeting is for:

  • For the volunteer to:
  • give their feedback
  • highlight anything they might need to help them with their role
  • For the supervisor to:
  • give feedback on the volunteers performance in the role, recognising and building on strengths and exploring any areas for improvement
  • highlight any organisational issues that might impact on the volunteer
  • Together:
    • Agree any actions to be taken

Start with the volunteer  ASK & LISTEN

  • What has gone well since the last supervision?
  • What have been the challenges/difficulties?
  • What might you do differently to overcome these?
  • What do we need to do differently to support you?
  • Are there any ideas or questions that you would like to raise about your role or the organisation as a whole?

If you have queries on this, or anything else relating to running a voluntary group, get in touch with us on enquiries@cambridgecvs.org.uk

Successful fundraising – notes from our workshop

by Chris Trevorrow. April 2022.

‘Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching people the joy of giving’ Hank Rosso

Leading trends[1] in income generation for voluntary groups in 2022 include a continued reliance on digital even with the reintroduction of face to face and the hybrid approaches that accommodate both options.  Alongside this is the growth of peer-to-peer fundraising – think Captain Tom and all those who emulated him but with fewer zeros – and the need to continue to accommodate cashless donations even for face-to-face fundraisers. 

At the same time, we are entering tough economic times making it essential that voluntary groups develop a fundraising strategy, building a case for support which they can communicate and share with all their stakeholders and engage and retaining a strong supporter base.  A fundraising strategy pulls together information about your objectives and identifies what you need and how you’ll achieve it

A fundraising plan helps manage resources often using a calendar to map out key dates and deadlines both internal and external to an organisation.  In developing a plan, a group needs to consider the fundraising channels and tools that will work for them.

  • individual giving might involve an old-fashioned collection but with a cashless option.  There are a wide range of options using smart phones that don’t require a card reader  Pledjar donation app, QR codes eg Bopp, Give Star
  • Utilising donation functions on social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram
  • Selecting the right gift giving platform to encourage your supporters to fundraise for you
  • Ensuring face to face events deliver a good return on resources and cost see Cabinet office guide to organising an event
  • Hybrid events can combine the best of in-person and digital by increasing participation, limiting environmental impact and being cost effective.  People might pay a premium for the inperson experience but others can also take part and donate if you live stream the event for example on Facebook

Successful fundraisers seek to build an ongoing dialogue with supporters, encouraging them to give by clearly communicating the difference the group makes to people in an engaging and motivating way.  They look to build the supporter relationship making connections and thanking them properly. 

Key factors in fundraising success:

  • Know your audience and what matters to them
  • Engage and inspire through stories
  • Create a sense of buy in before you make an ask
  • Make donation frictionless
  • Create a time limited campaign
  • Link to external events 
  • Thank supporters and share success
  • Make everyone in your organisation a fundraiser

If you would like to discuss fundraising with us, please get in touch at enquiries@cambridgecvs.org.uk


[1] Top Fundraising trends for 2022 Charity Digital

CIOF research trends

Congratulations to Camcycle who have announced accreditation as a Living Wage Employer.

By Lorna Gough. April 2022

Camcycle say:

We believe that our staff, including our interns, deserve a fair day’s pay for their efforts and want to support them to live and work locally in the community that they serve. We’d encourage other local businesses to do the same: the process is straightforward with helpful resources and a responsive team at the Living Wage Foundation should you need assistance.”

Did you know that CCVS is able to support your organisation through the accreditation process, and Cambridge City Council will fund the first year of the accreditation fee?

To find out more about what the Living Wage is, how to become accredited, and what that would mean for your organisation, read our previous blog.

Camcycle staff team with the Living Wage accreditation plaque.