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Pressure on charity campaigning is not going to go away

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February 27, 2015 at 11:18

This week Weber Shandwick held a debate on the future of charity campaigning which saw a panel of eminent speakers* discuss the Lobbying Act and other issues in the run up to the election. As reported by the sector press, the debate was intense and the vast majority of charities in the room believed that the sector was coming under undue pressure from politicians and regulators. However, on the back of this debate, I think there is a simple truth that charities need to take on board in the run up to the election: politicians are jealous of the influence [...]

Measurement: A double-edged sword for social value

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February 16, 2015 at 09:52

We’re all positivists now. Although there are a few ‘heretics’, generally, it seems that the march of the measurers has been a successful one. Nearly every charity that I speak with is interested in measurement and finding ways to report on its impact, though most are held back by the lack of time, resources or experience. Overall, this is a step forward. But we should also be cautious. Measurement is inherently idiosyncratic given the diversity of the sector and vast range of different outcomes that they are trying to achieve. This is not merely diversity by issue, but also diversity [...]

Data is nothing without context

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February 9, 2015 at 17:34

In my final column of 2014, I predicted transparency would be a continuing topic this year, and so it is proving. You’ll find quite a bit on the subject in this month’s Finance Focus, some of it related to a report published only a few days into the new year by the right-leaning think tank the Centre for Policy Studies. I’m not going to suggest you read the report because the tone and nature of it is likely to raise your blood pressure – I know it had that effect on me. However, there is a danger that such ill-informed [...]

Fog of uncertainty makes post-election planning difficult for charities

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February 4, 2015 at 14:20

Today the Institute for Fiscal Studies unveiled its Green Budget 2015. The Green Budget is an attempt by the IFS to analyse the impact of spending cuts, tax rises and other policy decisions of the government and parties. It is well worth of a read (though perhaps not all 300 pages of it!), but I think that there are three key messages for charities. 1)  Government spending with charities is likely to be squeezed by more than we think There has been a lot written about the impact of government spending cuts on the sector over the past few years, and [...]

Audits, thresholds and transparency

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January 30, 2015 at 11:34

Last week, the Cabinet Office consultation on the future of the audit threshold for charities concluded. Charity Finance Group, in partnership with NCVO, responded to the consultation on behalf of members. Audits are an important part of the regulatory landscape for charities, and the government has proposed lifting the threshold for which charities have to have their accounts audited from £500,000 to £1m. We have supported this move, in line with responses from members to a previous consultation which proposed lifting the audit threshold. For many small and medium sized charities, audit costs can be significant and may not be [...]

Looking back on 2014

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December 9, 2014 at 16:00

As we approach the end of 2014, it’s time for some reflection. The year has whizzed by shockingly quickly. It may have been a year of great change, but looking back to last December, I see that as a sector we are still asking for some of the same things, having the same debates, and opinions don’t appear to have moved on. Within the restrictions of this introduction, let me share a few thoughts. As an organisation we’ve experienced great change and huge shifts at CFG HQ, with new faces, a new approach and new activities. Whilst some of that [...]

Are you inspired to become a trustee?

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November 14, 2014 at 15:33

It has been another busy Trustees’ Week and we’ve been joining in the celebrations of the great work that trustees do and encouraging others to get involved and make a difference. Being a trustee can be a rewarding experience, both for the individual and for the charity they are supporting. Charities benefit from the knowledge, skills and experience of their trustees, while trustees can develop new skills, meet new people, and get involved in a cause that matters to them. Our Services and Enterprise Director, Tania Cohen, tells us about her experience as a trustee of Womankind Worldwide. “Womankind Worldwide [...]

The secret of trusteeship – aim high!

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November 6, 2014 at 12:26

I seem to have always been a trustee in some form or another for the majority of my adult life. I have learnt that being a great trustee requires almost a superhuman ability to tackle challenges head on, irrespective of personal interests, in order to do what is in the best interests of beneficiaries. To be a good trustee is relatively simple, but to be a great trustee is much harder. The endeavour of going for great is not only more rewarding but makes you a better, stronger human being. To illustrate what I mean, let me tell you about [...]

Freedom from the pursuits of profits

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October 8, 2014 at 13:04

Last year I started writing a column for Third Sector magazine. My brief was to make finance more interesting and exciting. Now, whether I’ve succeeded to that end others will judge. But I think that as finance is actually interesting (and I might even go as far as exciting!), my job shouldn’t be that hard. Good financial management is the lifeblood of any successful organisation, whatever the sector. It’s perhaps even more of an imperative for charities; not because the bottom line is the driver but because it is not. Consequently, I think charity finances are so much more engaging [...]

What happened to the red tape cull?

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September 5, 2014 at 09:43

Caron Bradshaw Once upon a time, an energetic new government was elected. It proclaimed a new age of a smaller state and a bigger society. A world in which civil action would be released from burden, and stupid, unnecessary measures wielded by over-zealous bureaucrats would be a thing of the past. We waited to see what this brave new world would look like, and whether the rhetoric would be matched with action. Certainly, in the early days, things had a real flavour of change. Do you remember the raft of conversations, debates, inquiries and consultations that focused on cutting red [...]