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Managing in a Downturn Report Reflections….

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April 11, 2014 at 15:08

Yesterday saw the launch of the seventh ‘Managing in Downturn’ report – a survey series that we have run in partnership with the Institute of Fundraising and PwC since the start of the economic downturn in 2008. The launch event itself was a lively affair with reflections of the findings from: Andrew Sentance, PwC’s Chief Economist; Mark Astarita, the IoF Chair; and our own Jane Tully. Highlights included Andrew Sentance’s weather map of the global economic outlook for 2014 (sunny intervals for the UK!) and Mark Astarita’s optimism that the baby boomer generation’s large capital assets will have significant implications [...]

Are IT teams in charities evolving from gatekeepers to digital enablers?

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March 25, 2014 at 10:19

John Simcock, Charities Director at eduserv, tells us about their latest research into Digital transformation in UK charities. This week we’ll be attending the CFG annual IT conference and thought it would be a good opportunity for charity leaders to consider the future role of the IT team within their organisation. We recently conducted research in partnership with CharityComms with 100 digital and IT charity leaders. The full findings are included in our report ‘Delivering Digital Transformation in UK Charities’ but some of the key findings may appear as cause for concern for charity leaders. It found that 73% thought their [...]

Time for budget bingo

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March 19, 2014 at 10:20

Today’s budget is one of three ‘fiscal events’ marking the countdown to the next election and will no doubt be driven by political posturing more than economic imperatives. Despite the usual early leaks, indications are that there will be a surprise announcement, a rabbit in the box, most likely targeted at Conservative voters.  The theme this year is set to be ‘resilience’ – the Chancellor has already taken to twitter this morning to tweet about a resilient coin to reflect a resilient economy – and while the economic indicators look like they’re finally going in the right direction, we’re likely [...]

The Commission: A damsel in distress?

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March 12, 2014 at 17:04

We’re not long into the new year, but already it is looking as though the increased (and sometimes hostile) scrutiny being applied to the charity sector is set to continue. This time, it’s the Charity Commission that is back in the spotlight, with the Public Accounts Committee giving a damning indictment of its performance. Last month I urged us to come together as a sector in order to respond to new pressures and change the narrative around charities. In light of these latest developments, and at the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I’ll say it again. In recent [...]

Diversifying your Board – the benefits for small charities

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March 3, 2014 at 10:52

Alex Swallow, Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition tells us… Having a diverse Board makes a real difference to the prospects for your charity. There are two types of diversity that are important here, which are closely linked. The first is diversity of skills – a charity Board will typically need finance skills, comms skills, legal skills, fundraising skills, research skills and so on. The second is every other form of diversity: age, gender, ethnicity etc. In order to get the best trustees possible you need a board that is open to a great variety of people, not one [...]

Accounting at the sharp end: A report from the Community Accountancy Conference 2014

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February 10, 2014 at 15:57

I’ve not long returned from a short sojourn in rain-drenched Birmingham. Several CFG colleagues and I donned both our waterproofs and chainmail armour in order to sally forth into the number-crunchers’ front-line of battle – community accountancy…! For those not in the know, a community accountancy service (CAS) is defined as “a project or organisation which seeks to support voluntary and community organisations (VCOs) on issues of financial management and accounting.” The focus of the support is normally on the small to medium VCOs – those with less than £250,000 annual income, and the majority of the support provided by [...]

‘Professionalism’ is not a dirty word

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January 28, 2014 at 18:34

2014. I can’t quite believe that this is my fourth year working within the sector, but I’ve been sensing that the pressure on us as a ‘sector’ has intensified… Pensions. Pay. Investments. The way we do ‘business’. When I came to CFG in 2010, the biggest challenge taxing charity FDs was the uncertain economic climate. Now, broadly speaking, I believe that we’ve got to grips with this ‘new norm’. That’s not to say that all is rosy in the garden on the funding front, but rather that much of the contraction in our sources of income, biting so deeply after [...]

A change in economic outlook- is your charity sinking or swimming… tell us!

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January 24, 2014 at 15:12

As the economy is beginning to show tentative signs of recovery, the most pressing question on the minds of many in the charity sector is how this will impact on their organisations. Whilst during the recession the charity sector has proven itself to be both resilient and flexible in its battle to cope with increased demand and reduced funding; the impact of the economic downturn has been significant with charities experiencing challenges such as cuts in frontline staff, closure of services and a drop in donations. The widespread effect of these tough economic times on the charity sector has been [...]

Why the role of the charity regulator matters – a look to Ireland

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January 20, 2014 at 13:27

I’ve been paying close attention to the unravelling story around one of Ireland’s leading charities in recent months. Breaking in the run up to Christmas, when the seasonal appeals were at their height, the ‘scandal’ (it’s had all the hallmarks of a classic Irish scandal!) has rocked the voluntary sector there, and hit trust and confidence in the worst of ways.  As happened on a smaller scale in the UK last summer, questions around executive pay and pay-offs are threatening to undermine public donations to charity. The main charity in the spotlight is the Central Remedial Clinic in Dublin, a non-residential [...]

Mergers during the recession; why weren’t there as many as expected?

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January 15, 2014 at 09:24

In the wake of the launch of our most recent survey in the ‘Managing in a Downturn’ series, we take a look at what the last five instalments have told us about the scale and form of mergers in the sector. The decision to merge in the for-profit sector is ultimately motivated by the fiduciary duty to maximise shareholders’ ROI. One might expect a similar logic to apply to the charity sector; mergers enable greater resource for maximising beneficiaries’ benefits. Indeed, in the heyday of the economic recession in 2008, many expected a larger number of charities to merge as [...]