Festive Fundraising? Shop online and it’s easier than you think!

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Thinking about festive fundraising? As the Christmas season gets into full swing our Grant Manager for the North West, Ella Sips blogs on how, charities can make the most of this bumper shopping season with a simple solution to raising extra funds online.

My conversations with the charities we fund always includes the subject of fundraising. It is at the forefront of every charity CEO’s mind and can sometimes feel like painting the Forth Bridge; a never-ending task.

For most, fundraising is a necessity – something that must be done to continue delivering a charity’s much needed services. Small charities, more than most, recognise that having a variety of funding sources puts you on more secure ground, reducing the negative impact from funding cuts if (and when) they happen. But for CEOs and Fundraisers alike, the holy grail of fundraising is unrestricted funding – the money that allows you to do everything from developmental work, to running pilots, building up your reserves or even plugging the unavoidable budget deficits.

Raising money, the hard way

Someone once said, the best fundraising is when others do it for you. The success of sites like Just Giving and Virgin Money Giving are a testament to that. Whether having enthusiastic supporters packing bags in a supermarket or a friend or family member running a marathon in support of your charity, this type of fundraising significantly contributes to the sector’s unrestricted funds.

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Festive fundraising? There’s an easier way.

But there are other, easier ways to launch a fundraising campaign for your charity that require very little effort if running a marathon (and the inevitable blisters that come with it) is not for you. I’m thinking online shopping here, and with Christmas around the corner, it’s a good time to think about how your charity can capitalise on the season of gift-giving. Most people do it, but we don’t all realise that our online activity can raise cash for charities without leaving the comfort of our chairs.

Armchair Fundraising

There are a growing number of platforms to choose from. Amazon Smile is a recent initiative, alongside the more established sites like Give As You Live, the Giving Machine and Easy Fundraising. It’s a no brainer really, as a customer you sign up and choose a charity to support. As a charity it’s free and easy way to generate a bit of extra income. Two extra clicks of the mouse before you start and by doing your shopping through affiliated websites every pound you spend gives a little back to a good cause. The benefit can be, on average, 2% of what you spend, and number can go even higher on certain things like holidays or insurance.

Do this in isolation and the returns will be low, but this is where people power comes in. If you invest a bit of time on social media spreading the word about your charity’s ask, the £35 raised in a year by one supporter becomes £350 by 10, and £3,500 by 100. Just think how much unrestricted income the 43.5 million digital shoppers in the UK could raise for charities!

So, as you and your supporters start thinking about stocking fillers for loved ones, and with online shopping more popular than ever, why not think a bit more about how two extra clicks could create a line in your next year’s budget?

It’s a gift that really does keep on giving!

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Paul Streets: The local charities that reach ‘invisible’ people

Niche organisations matter – they embody ‘lived experience’, writes our CEO Paul Streets.

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This blog was originally published in the November / December 2018 edition of Third Sector magazine.

As a sector we have quite rightly been challenged to demonstrate our connection to the lives of those we exist for.

Large organisations frequently set up complicated, sometimes expensive mechanisms to do this. And they often don’t work, becoming highly unrepresentative or tokenistic.

But for many small local organisations it’s part of their DNA. I recently visited two charities with our London grants manager that exemplify this, but which highlighted for me that it’s not as common practice as it should be.

The CSO team has plans to use a Lloyds Bank Foundation grant to meet the demand of service users. It will create employment and business support for recently arrived refugees, in a community with many talented entrepreneurs.

The Council of Somali Organisations is an umbrella body of more than 100, often small, Somali groups, mainly in London. It has only one full-time employee and four part-time staff. By contrast, the Latin American Women’s Rights Service is much longer established, with a team of 20-plus.

The CSO believes there are about 400,000 people in Britain who call themselves Somali, although no one knows for sure because the data lumps all “Africans” together.

And the LAWRS estimates there are about 250,000 Latin Americans in the UK.

But the factors that brought these migrant populations to the UK are different.

The CSO and the LAWRS illustrate why local niche charities matter: they embody “lived experience”, reaching people and places invisible to most of us.

Britain has a historical connection with Somalia, with sailors serving in the Navy in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the chaos of Somali civil war driving a more recent exodus. Many Latin Americans came here for economic reasons, yet sadly often occupy menial employment here, as cleaners or, more tragically, trafficked as sex workers.

Both charities are largely run, staffed and led by their communities, and it’s this that drives their ambition.

The CSO team has plans to use a Lloyds Bank Foundation grant to meet the demand of service users. It will create employment and business support for recently arrived refugees, in a community with many talented entrepreneurs.

Lucila Granada, director of the LAWRS, told me about the women she serves. Some were facing abuse from violent partners or severe domestic exploitation. She also spoke of people experiencing “honour-based violence”,”corrective rape” forced upon gay women, forced abortion or pregnancy. Intra-family rape is often unrecognised to “protect the family”.

Combined with the undocumented status of many of the victims, or the fact that their continued residency is sometimes dependent on EU nationals, you have a number of crimes that are often unspoken and rarely reported.

It’s why the LAWRS is running its Step up Migrant Women campaign. It is making headway in its influencing work with the London Victims Commissioner and the Mayor of London, bringing together about 30 local and national supporters, including Amnesty International and Liberty. But it has some way to go.

It’s hard enough to contemplate how domestic abuse victims cope, even with possible recourse through the law, and many of these people can’t even count on that. So it makes sense that you’d need a charity that speaks your language – literally and figuratively – to fill that gap.

The CSO and the LAWRS illustrate why local niche charities matter: they embody “lived experience”, reaching people and places invisible to most of us.

Paul Streets: Local austerity stories are corroborated by the statistics

And it’s this that helps to give the sector a voice on the most pressing issues of all, writes our CEO Paul Streets.

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This blog was originally published on Third Sector on 29 October 2018.

In the last month The Mighty Redcar hit our screens – the compelling docudrama of real lives played out in a small town where austerity and de-industrialisation have taken a massive toll.

Described by The Guardian as the antidote to the “poverty porn” of Benefits Streetand the like, it’s good to finally see the story told in a way that helps to illustrate how complex social issues occur and how hard they are to overcome.

But what’s also important is that the story of the micro – a single northern seaside town – is corroborated by the macro: a wealth of stats and reports on local authority spending cuts, which together command us to sit up in our armchairs and pay attention.

The Lloyds Bank Foundation’s recent research with the New Policy Institute revealed A Quiet Crisis in the distribution of the brunt of local authority cuts.

Its analysis of government spending data in England on a range of services for adults and children facing disadvantage shows that, though it looks like some councils have done their best to protect the disadvantaged, the most deprived areas have been hit the hardest.

And, faced with the increasing demands for help, cash-strapped councils have cut spending on the preventive measures that stop problems such as homelessness or having to take children into care in the first place.

In parallel, 360 Giving data crunched by data scientists shows that the pattern of our funding for small charities maps directly onto deprivation. It’s encouraging, because at the Lloyds Bank Foundation our spend is driven entirely by demand and need: we don’t target the most deprived areas; it’s just where most of our money ends up.

While small local charities are playing a vital role in trying to fill the gaps, we’ve yet to see the rise in unmet need that A Quiet Crisis warns us of, as funding reductions play out for anything that looks like prevention and is deemed non-statutory (think youth services or Home Start).

It’s little wonder, then, that the demands on those we fund are rising inexorably at the same time as their publicly funded grants evaporate. This is a story they have been telling us repeatedly for years as they fight for survival in a society that hasn’t yet heard them.

What’s more, we also know from research by Southampton University and the ESRC, and from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, that charities do not map well onto need overall. A more recent report, Patchwork Philanthropy by The Young Foundation, used 360Giving data to show that the combined pattern of philanthropy and public spending maps poorly onto need. Camden, St Albans and Kensington & Chelsea are spending hotspots, while Mansfield, Great Yarmouth and West Lancashire are coldspots. And Blackpool has the lowest charitable spend per head, which makes no sense at all.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government response to the cuts, which said that “local authorities are responsible for their own decisions” doesn’t offer much hope. Tracey Crouch, through the Civil Society Strategy, seems to understand the need to focus on deprived areas, but it looks like she’s going to have an uphill battle to kick the ostriches at the top of the hill out of their bunkers.

Maybe it’s the link between coldspots and pro-Brexit areas that, as The Guardian’s John Harris recently flagged, could act as the catalyst. Once complex social issues start mattering to politics and power, something might happen.

As a sector, we’re now in the fortunate position of having more data than we’ve ever had to make our case, enough to make sure the parties and interests that will fight the next post-Brexit election know the facts. But knowing about a problem doesn’t translate into caring enough to act.

Given the importance of this to the people who need us most we should be testing the Civil Society Strategy’s recognition that charities should have a “voice” – lobbying act and all – to its limits, in making sure politicians of all parties heed the warnings of the charities surviving against the odds, while they’re still there to be heard.

Ask a Grant Manager – October 2018

Frances Warwick is our Grant Manager for the East of England and North-East London.

Frances Warwick
Frances Warwick – Grant Manager for the East of England and North-East London

She has been with Lloyds Bank Foundation for 18 months, having joined us from her previous work at another trust.  Before that, Frances worked in the Civil Service after beginning her career in the Probation Service.

“I enjoy getting out and meeting charities – actually seeing what they are doing on the ground, meeting beneficiaries and seeing the difference our funded charities make to people’s lives. It’s very inspiring.”

When she’s not working, Frances enjoys cooking and walking her Dachshund, Ruby.

“This morning I walked Ruby and picked some chestnuts for Christmas. When you’re on walks with the dog you tend to find these things especially as I spend most of my time scrambling in the undergrowth to catch her as she darts off after a rabbit!”


Q: As a tiny charity (annual income just under £20K) your current lower income limit prevents us from applying for funding – which previously we used to your complete satisfaction. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary we need your sort of ‘support for small charities’ to maintain our service.

A: We recognise that the work of tiny charities can be really effective too and as part of our new strategy, we’ll be expanding our development support to charities we can’t fund, to help build a more resilient sector.

The reason for our lower income limit around grant funding is primarily because we implement and monitor our grants using measurement criteria that are designed for slightly larger charities and, in our experience, would be overwhelming for charities with an income below £25,000 or wouldn’t assess them in the best way.

Instead in the past, we have run pilot programmes specifically for charities with incomes under our £25,000 lower limit, to explore how we can help them grow, become more robust, or connect with other parts of local infrastructure to work most effectively.

We also do our best to speak up for lower-income charities through our influencing work, gathering evidence about their work to encourage decision makers to review government policy. Through this work we’re giving charities a voice so together we can influence change.

 

Q: Many of the community centres I work with are struggling with finances and are asking if I know of funding pots. Some for the ability to employ a part time cleaner, or Admin, or managers. Other centres have projects they would like to support like holiday hunger through to refurbishing a kitchen to enable greater user use. Are these the sorts of things you would fund if I were to point them in your direction?

A: We really understand that paying the rent and keeping the lights on are the first steps to making sure charities can provide good services. That’s part of the thinking behind our Invest grants which covers service delivery costs. This includes core costs such as staff salaries, although I’m afraid we can’t cover capital costs such as refurbishment. Enable grants fund organisational development and help to strengthen your charity through improving structures and systems, leadership or communications.

Charities applying for our grants need to show they’re supporting people experiencing one or more of the complex social issues we fund. The support provided to people needs be person-centred, holistic and deliver positive change for beneficiaries. It also needs to be ongoing and show progression over time, rather than one-off or casual support such as a drop-in centre or lunch club.

Based on the limited information we have, it’s unlikely that we could support the requests you’ve outlined, but we know it can be hard to show all the complexity of a charity’s work on paper, so feel free to call the team on 0370 411 1223 to chat more about specific requests.

 

Q: If you were recruiting for new trustees what skills would be most useful your work? (Asking as a new-ish Grantmaking Trustee)

A: Every organisation is different, but the skills we look for on our board depend on the balance of skills and attributes our current board members already have, and what the gaps are.  Overall, we look for a diverse range of people with a broad range of experiences, from people with strong charity governance and leadership backgrounds to academics who are expert in the social issues we fund, and senior managers from the Lloyds Banking Group, which funds our work. A strong knowledge of the charity sector, particularly small charities, charity governance and the complex social issues we fund is also needed.

In terms of building your own skills, the same principles apply across charities of all sizes. The skills needed will depend on the individual charity, but we know that for small charities, a flexible approach is key, as they may need to call upon trustees on a more ad-hoc basis. Small charity trustees need to be approachable, supportive and act as a cheerleader to inspire organisations which can be “up against it”. You should also expect to be called upon to give sizable chunks of time and expertise if you can, to help enhance a small team of staff who need outside knowledge of a specific kind to tackle a new challenge.

For people looking for new Trustee experiences, I’d recommend focusing on building skills in areas you already have an interest in and keeping an eye out for the right opportunity. Our new Trustee Recruitment, Selection and Induction toolkit has a handy list of services which match potential trustees and charities.


Have  a question you want to ask our Grant Managers? Submit your questions here.

Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter so you can see the answers. 

Show us the money: what small charities need from the Budget

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Chancellor Phillip Hammond

Ahead of next week’s Budget statement, Lloyds Bank Foundation’s Policy and National Programmes Manager, Caroline Howe explains what small charities need to hear from the Chancellors statement.

Here at the Foundation we’ve been calling on Government to re-think how services for people facing complex issues are funded, to make sure those places and people who need support most can access it.

Of course, the Chancellor has a tough task: ending austerity while balancing the books and stabilising the economy over the anticipated turbulent months ahead, as anyone who has tried the Institute of Fiscal Studies NHS funding tool will know. But that shouldn’t draw our attention away from what is needed: enough money to deliver key services where they are needed.

This year the government needs to look at three key areas:

We need funding for local areas

It’s hard to miss the discussions about ‘place’. Whether it’s place-based funding, or places that have been left behind, ‘place’ even got its own chapter in the recent Civil Society Strategy. Yet research we published last month shows how local authority funding, the funding that underpins so much that happens in a place, is broken. The huge cuts to local government funding are sobering – particularly given that 97% of the cuts to services for people facing disadvantage have fallen in the most deprived fifth of local authorities. That is, the areas with highest demand. This demand is set to further grow too, with cuts in preventive services to cater for rising crisis support. Cutting preventive support might help balance the books in the short term but it will only lead to more costs long term as more people are pushed into more costly crises – as shown in housing in the graph below.

NPI - Preventive and crisis spending in housing servicesAs local councils lose out on centrally-administered funding, they are having to rely on generating their own income. Inevitably this is much harder in poorer areas. It’s difficult to foresee how under the current arrangement councils will be able to provide the services that local people need. Central Government needs to shift local authority funding to a system based on need, so that those areas with the highest service demands can afford to provide the services that people need.

We need funding for local people

That brings us on to who this is all about: local people. People are at the heart of local places yet it’s not just council funding that is bringing challenges. The benefits freeze and reduced budget for Universal Credit is making life even more challenging for people who need support. As costs of living continue to rise, it’s ever more important to end the freeze and make sure benefits align – 90% of Local Housing Allowance rates don’t cover the rents they were designed to. The result? Hardship and homelessness. One of the original key intentions of Universal Credit was to help ensure work always pays yet the cuts Government subsequently made to the Work Allowances have seriously damaged this. Small changes by Government can have a huge impact here. Research by the Child Poverty Action Group shows that if the work allowance taper rate was reduced to 55%, child poverty could be reduced by 200,000. Reducing the rate seems a small price to pay for lifting 200,000 children out of poverty.

In response to the concerns raised by a wide range of charities, MPs and others the Government has announced a new pause in the roll-out. They must now take this opportunity to fix the well documented problems that remain in Universal Credit – both the systems it uses and the levels of benefit themselves and particularly to ensure it better supports people facing complex problems. Alongside this Government needs to make sure that people can get the right support and advice they need to access the right benefits.

We need funding for local charities

Small and local charities clearly have a core role in supporting people to access the help they need. We know they’re under pressure. We’re calling on government to secure new funding for charities which are, as Theresa May would say tackling “burning injustices” across the country. There is funding that exists to help with this. It just needs to be released or allocated in a way which makes sure it reaches the organisations and communities which need it most. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund is due to replace the European Social Fund after we leave the EU. It’s critical that this funding is ring-fenced so that it can continue to support people who other agencies fail to reach – i.e. through locally rooted, small charities, and through payment mechanisms that are proportionate and appropriate such as grants.

The release of dormant assets – money in bank and building societies that has been left unclaimed – also offers opportunities to secure long term funding for local charities too. There is a clear opportunity to allocate this windfall to strategic, long term investment in charities who are the heart of a thriving civil society.

For some time we at the Foundation have been calling on government to use money available in a more effective way – through better commissioning and more use of grants for small charities. But we cannot overlook the importance of the amount of funding that is made available too. That’s why next week’s Budget is so important, for people, places and charities and why we’ve made our own submissions to government as well as joining other sector leaders ahead of the Chancellor’s statement.

Paul Streets: My own loss reminded me why charities matter

For many, charity staff are the only people ‘in the corner’ of their beneficiaries, writes our CEO Paul Streets.

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This blog was originally published in the September / October edition of Third Sector.

This summer has been a sad one for me. My mother died. She was 85. She had not been well for some time, but it already feels like she leaves a huge hole, especially as my father also died three years ago, also aged 85.

Who will listen unconditionally? Who will support me whatever I do? Who knew me from the moment I arrived and has been with me ever since?

The lack of any effective family support network is one reason they end up turning to the charities we fund.

I was already aware, but have been reminded, that I’m among those lucky enough to have lived life as part of a stable, supportive family and, at times, I have taken that for granted. It is not so for many of the people we seek to reach through the charities we fund: the single homeless man; the refugee; many of those who leave prison; the woman fleeing home for a refuge; the young person who leaves care. The lack of any effective family support network is one reason they end up turning to the charities we fund.

Nothing can replace the wraparound of a supportive family, but from what I see from visiting small charities, and as evidenced by our recent report The Value of Small, this ability to provide unconditional, flexible, yet structured support is one of the main reasons small charities work. No contract would ever specify this approach and no state institution could ever provide it. It’s intimate, immediate and initially intangible. Yet, without that kind of support provided throughout my life I wouldn’t be the person I am.

The other brief glimpse I had into the lives of the people we seek to reach was during mum’s tortuous last two weeks, as she experienced the ill effects of a well-meaning and benign, but confused and disconnected NHS. She was told one thing, then another. Doctors dropped in and out, issuing rapid verdicts, then leaving the excellent nurses to pick up and interpret the pieces. At times it felt like she was an interesting case study. It was agonising. Yet we as family faced all of that with her, as advocates.

For many, those charity staff represent the only people “in the corner” of their beneficiaries

It reminded me that small charities are family in all but name for people with chaotic lives. They’re the people advocating and joining up different state actors: welfare agencies, social services, health services, housing, the police and criminal justice system, and so on.

For many, those charity staff represent the only people “in the corner” of their beneficiaries, reading letters for people who aren’t able to, arranging transport to appointments or appealing decisions made in offices based on statistics for people who don’t value themselves enough to know they deserve better. In my mum’s final weeks it felt like my family had given over control. It’s hard to imagine how that must feel when that’s all you know.

No wonder it is to so hard to turn people’s lives around. We are so lucky to have dedicated people on the front line of thousands of charities around the country committed to trying to do just that.

PR for Charities: When hitting the headlines really helps

When you’re stretched for time and demand for your services is rising, PR often finds its way to the bottom of the small charity to-do list. In this blog Lloyds Bank Foundation Communications Manager, Annie Abelman explains why charities should think more about PR and how hitting the headlines can be a big help to even the smallest charities.

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Julie Hesmondhalgh as Trish Winterman in Broadchurch

For those of us working in Comms, media coverage often feels about as regular as buses. One minute it’s a battle to get just one bit of press coverage, but as soon as a good journalist breaks a story, all competing media outlets are clamouring for a piece of the action.

At Lloyds Bank Foundation many of the small charities we fund see media coverage as a fairly low priority. With resources scarce and demand rising, it’s hard enough to pay the salaries of staff delivering services to people in great need, and any charities with spare cash are often paying professional fundraisers or bidwriters to bring in desperately important new revenue streams. Not only is a press officer a luxury most of our grantees can’t afford, we also find that most of our Chief Execs are too hands-on to hanker after what may seem like self-aggrandizing press interviews and photoshoots when there are people who urgently need their services.

So why does media coverage matter?

In the right context, positive press coverage can be a huge asset for charities. Back in 2016 we saw that the BBC’s Archers storyline led to a 20% increase in calls to the National Domestic Abuse Helpline. This storyline brought a taboo topic into the public domain in a way that didn’t compromise any confidentiality or safety (as can often be a PR hazard when using a beneficiary case study) because the outcry of public support was for the fictional – albeit realistic – character, Helen. Many of the charities funded by the Foundation talked about the significant benefits of this storyline on their local domestic abuse outreach and support services. When it came to fundraising or stakeholder relationship building, doors were opened to them and they found new opportunities to make the case for their services. With hindsight, many charities said they should have done more to use the national storyline to capitalise on telling their local stories – finding that local people had been moved to set up fundraising pages for Women’s Aid, not realising a charity in their neighbourhood and could really use lasting support too. Once it had gathered speed, there was very little way to redirect this growing momentum.

The local publicity of Dorset Rape Crisis Centre means more vulnerable people have been made aware of the local service there to help them and given confidence that their story will be listened to.

More recently, our grantee Dorset Rape Crisis Support Centre benefited from press coverage around their involvement in the ITV series Broadchurch. They were asked to help scriptwriters with a  storyline involving the serious sexual assault of Trish Winterman. Whilst it’s fantastic to see ITV thoroughly factchecking bold storylines that need to be handled sensitively and which will undoubtedly act as triggers for vulnerable viewers, there’s value in the consultancy relationship for the charity too. Broadchurch writer Chris Chibnall called the Sexual Violence Advisors ‘extraordinary people’ in the advice they had given, and stressed that he ‘wanted to tell this story because recorded sexual offences have been increasing year on year.’

With greater profile around an often-unspoken issue, along with local publicity of Dorset Rape Crisis Centre, more vulnerable people have been made aware of the local service there to help them and given confidence that their story will be listened to. Dorset Rape Crisis Centre has gleaned longer term support from the coverage too. Julie Hesmondhalgh, the actor that played Trish Winterman has become their patron and is helping with further profile raising and fundraising because this charity has become particularly meaningful for her.

What if my charity isn’t the topic of a TV show?

Stumbling across the situations I’ve described is darn lucky, and almost certainly wasn’t what the charities that benefited from them set out to achieve. But even if we can’t all stumble across a such a great opportunity, we can all mine the human stories that will make our supporters – or would be supporters – feel the effects of our work, not just know it.

The World in Seven Stories

It’s well known that most successful stories follow a common story arc:

 

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The reason we don’t get bored with this predictable format is that as humans we get a kick out of investing in others, hearing about obstacles they face and learning how they overcame them. As humans, stories of others having triumphed over adversity are inspiring, hopeful and make us want to be like those people or share the story with others we know.

The good news is, these are the very stories small charities delivering vital local services are rich in. They’re on theme, and for the most part, they are powerful because the stakes were as high as you can get: they’re about lives changed, or very often saved.

Why use them?

The individual human stories are what make every small charity worker work late, go the extra mile, find an extra bed in a hostel for someone in need, because their story tugged at your heartstrings. So, it’s only right to let your charity’s triumphs over adversity tug at others’ heartstrings too. Use storytelling to find the ‘why’ of your organisation and let the press spread these stories for you. If you can make your supporters, your critics, and your funders feel and not just know why it’s crucial that you are able to do what you do, it’s very hard indeed for them not to find a way to make it happen.