User's Tags

Other Blogs

  • 19 Dec 2016
    On 16th December, to coincide with Local Charities Day, we released our second annual Local Charity and Community Group Sustainability Report. Using data from a survey of 598 local charity representatives carried out of the summer, this report provides a fascinating insight into the state of the local voluntary sector as we approach 2017. The last year has seen a continued escalation in demand for the services of local charities. Coupled with ongoing volatility in the funding landscape, this has left many groups fearful for their long term survival. The report finds that: Just 46% of local charities are confident they will be able to sustain themselves over the next five years. 67% of groups were still predicting stagnation or a downturn in their financial position over the coming year. 78% of groups predict an increase in demand over the coming year, of these groups just 18% feel that they are sufficiently resourced to meet this demand. Reductions in staff numbers pose a  serious problem, impacting on the continuity of services and affecting overall skill levels. 76% of respondents had seen a reduction of staff over the last year. 60% of respondents know of one or more local groups that have been forced to close in the last year. 77% of charities do not believe that they have the skills to run a successful fundraising campaign. Download the Full Report Here We conclude our report by laying out a number of recommendations for the coming year and beyond. We are particularly concerned about the urgent need to bring sustainable funding sources in the sector and to address the continued overreliance on under or unskilled staff. We hope that the results of this report will not only inform our own work over the coming year but also inspire other stakeholders in government, business and civil society to tackle the challenges facing the local voluntary sector.    
    4640 Posted by Lewis Garland
  • 07 Dec 2016
    The local voluntary sector consists of thousands of groups with widely varying causes, missions and activities. Local Charities day, taking place on December 16th, will celebrate these amazing groups and draw attention to some of the challenges they are facing.  In this blog we look at what makes the UK’s local voluntary sector so unique and valuable - exploring the characteristics they share and the vital, yet too often overlooked, services that they provide to their communities. In 2015 we produced our first Local charity and community group sustainability Report. In this report we identified a number of characteristics that make the sector so special.   1) Knowledge of local needs Many Local charities are formed as a direct result of a specific local need or cause; be it saving a community centre, conserving a local place of interest etc.  These causes rarely fall into the remit of larger national or international charities as therefore, without these charities such issues would often go unaddressed entirely. A good example of this charity type is Downham Market & District Heritage Society - a group that exists to conserve and display objects, photographs and documents relating to Downham Market and the surrounding village Other local charities address wider societal issues (homelessness, disability advice, refugee support, LGBTQ  issues). These groups have a strong crossover with the work of well know national charities and groups. However, in most cases this crossover is complementary.  While more heavily resourced national or international groups excel at wide scale campaigning, infrastructural support etc, the value of grassroots groups lies in their acute knowledge of how these wider issues play out at a local level and how they are best addressed. HERe NI work to combat social exclusion and discrimination among the LGBT+ community in Northern Ireland.  Their acute knowledge of the specific issues facing LGBT+ women in Northern Ireland enable them to provide personalised support and bespoke awarenss raising. 2) Strong Trusting Relationships As well as understanding the needs of their community, the fact that local groups are often deeply embeddedness in their local community enables them to foster strong trusting relationships with their beneficiaries.  The value of these relationships, though difficult to quantify, cannot be underestimated. One clear benefit to these close relationships is that it enables these groups to access harder to reach parts of their community. Another advantage is that people often feel a strong attachment, even sense of ownership over local groups. Many local charities are not simply service providers but a key element of the fabric and character of their communities. These informal community bonds would be impossible to replicate.  However, the difference they make to the quality of service provided by groups and the resulting benefit to their service users can be huge. 3) Flexibility and reaction time Local charities and small charities should not be treated as synonymous – for example many hospices have a local or regional remit but have medium to large turnover.  However, given that 95% of local charities have an annual income of under £1 Million there is a strong crossover. One of the benefits of being small is that these groups are often far less bureaucratic and, as a consequence, more flexible and able to react  quickly. When coupled with local charities’ acute knowledge or their local demographics and resources, this often means that local groups are able to provide support quicker, more targeted support than larger, national counterparts. One example is the Community Foundation for Calderdale’s Boxing Day 2015 Flood appeal. On Boxing Day 2016 Storm Eva caused the River Calder to burst it's banks devastating businesses and homes across Calderdale. CFFC Immediately responded – launching a fundraising appeal that received national attention. Of course,  there are numerous other reasons why the local voluntary  sector is so valuable. This is a sector that continues to amaze us with its resourcefulness, passion and innovation. On Local Charities Day (16th December) make it your mission to find a charity near you and see what you can do to support their cause.   Also keep your eyes open for our 2016 Local Charity and Community Report released on the day.  Found this blog post useful? You may also like:    The Power of Storytelling: Six Top Tips by Mike Zywina   Storytelling Tips for Charities by Becky Slack  5 free tools to share your organisation's story by Nisha Kotecha   
    3594 Posted by Lewis Garland
  • 04 Sep 2015
    It is impossible not to be moved by the tragic scenes taking place in the Mediterranean and Eastern Europe – the crammed trains and boats, hauntingly reminiscent of our not-too-distant history. Images of desperate people, making treacherous journeys to escape war-torn regions. Many of us want to do our bit in this time of great human need. However, we can’t all be handing out provisions in Budapest, Kos or Calais. So, how then can we help? There are many larger charities, national and international, that have a proven track record in supporting refugees - UNHCR, Refugee Action and the  British Red Cross to name a few. These organisations provide exceptional emergency support and advocacy. However, much of the long term support required by asylum seekers and refugees is provided by small, locally-based community groups and solidarity organisations. Once in the UK, refugees and asylum seekers face multiple, complex issues – be it trauma, exploitation or social isolation. These grassroots organisations provide the essential support needed to empower refugees and enable them to fully integrate and flourish. Support local groups As a member organisation for local charities and community groups, Localgiving is proud to work with many of these amazing groups from across the country. To highlight just a few: RETAS provide education and training to refugees and asylum seekers in West Yorkshire to help them rebuild their lives in the UK Embrace, based in Stoke-on-Trent, provide a drop-in service for female asylum seekers and their children across Staffordshire who are experiencing hardship and social isolation NNRF work with and for refugees and asylum seekers across Nottinghamshire, offering practical advice, information, support and friendship CLEAR provide advice and education to both settled and developing refugee communities in Southampton Slough Immigration Aid Unit empower people by ensuring they know, and can access their legal rights under immigration law Ourmala support refugee and asylum-seeking women living in London to find strength and hope through yoga These groups all rely on their local communities – for both volunteering and financial support. To find out more about how you can get involved with groups supporting refugees and asylum seekers in your area, you can search for relevant charities here. You don’t have to be in Calais to play your part  sometimes the biggest difference you can make, even in times of international crises, is on your own doorstep.     Update (07/09/15): A huge thank you to everyone who has donated or offered  support to any of the charities above so far. I am just updating this blog to let you know about a new member of Localgiving, The Bike Project. This group receive donations of second-hand bikes, fix them up at their community workshops, and donate them to refugees and asylum seekers in London.       
    3141 Posted by Lewis Garland
  • 18 Nov 2015
    With #GivingTuesday just around the corner, there’s no better time to get your social media pages up to date and to make it simpler for your supporters to donate! One really useful recent update made by Facebook allows you to add a free “Donate Now” button to the top of your organisation’s Facebook page. By linking the button to your Localgiving donation page, you can make it easier for supporters to give. To help you benefit from this, we thought we’d give you a little advice on how to get started. Firstly, you need to make sure that your Facebook page is set up under the category “non-profit organization”. If your page is currently set up as something else, you can change its category by following this quick guide from Facebook. To add the “Donate Now” Button just follow these simple instructions: 1) Go to your Page’s cover photo and click “Create Call to Action”. 2) This will give you a list of possible “Call to Action” buttons. Scroll through these buttons and choose “Donate Now”.                3) Below this list you will see a box with the title “Website”. This is where you need to add the URL of your Localgiving page. We recommend that you add your donation page URL here. This way your donors will only be one click away from donating! To find your Donation Page URL first open your Localgiving page in a new tab and then click on the “Donate Now” button at the top right of the page.                                                                                                                                                             When you are on this page simply copy the URL in the address bar.     Then paste the URL into the box titled “Website”.   4) Once your URL is written in this box, all you need to do is click “Create” and, Voila, your “Donate Now” Button will be live!     Once your “Donate Button” is active you can even find out how many people have clicked on it. Just click on the button, hover over “view Insights” and you will see a graph showing how many people have clicked on each of the last 7 days.So, now you are fully equipped with a shiny new “Donate Now” Button – it’s time to tell your supporters. Why not encourage them to donate £5 through Facebook on December 1st as part of our #GiveMe5 match fund campaign!   Found this Blog useful? You may also like:    The Power of Storytelling: Six Top Tips by Mike Zywina   5 free tools to share your organisation's story by Nisha Kotecha   How to make friend with the media by Kay Parris Get your charity’s voice heard by Duncan Hatfield    
    2935 Posted by Lewis Garland
Featured charities 1,787 views Sep 18, 2015
All Geared up for Action

In our recent blog, The Refugee Crisis: make a difference on your doorstep, we highlighted some of the practical ways that people can support refugees through local initiatives.

While the headlines focus on the need for emergency assistance, it is important to remember that, once in the UK, refugees and asylum seekers face many additional challenges and barriers - from alienation, to housing to health. Much of the support available is provided by small, local charities and solidarity organisations. These groups not only have an acute understanding of the particular needs in their area and community but many also provide unique, innovative solutions.

A perfect example of this is The Bike Project. Jem Stein set up The Bike Project in 2013 after witnessing first-hand the problems for refugees and asylum seekers caused by London’s soaring transport costs.

Jem’s solution was simple - to get refugees cycling! By repairing abandoned bikes and giving them to refugees, The Bike Project estimate they save each refugee over £1000 per year. Since 2013 the project has gone from strength to strength. To date, they have distributed over 980 bikes to refugees as well as venturing into new areas such as cycle training for refugee women.

This week we met Jem amid the wheel-lined walls of The Bike Project’s HQ in South London. Here we took the opportunity to discuss how the project started, its successes so far and new initiatives. We also looked at how the project is benefitting from its business partnerships.

What was your inspiration behind the Bike Project?

“When I was at university I started mentoring a refugee. He was 16 and had fled the Darfuri genocide. He was placed in the outskirts of London. Beside all the terrible things he had experienced, one of the biggest challenges he faced was that he couldn’t get anywhere. London transport is so expensive. As an asylum seeker you get £36 per week to live off and a bus pass is £21 per week. As you can’t work this leaves you very little”.

“I grew up in Oxford - a cycling city - one of the first things I did to help him therefore was try to get him a bike. This enabled him to access education, healthcare, base community and psychological support”.

“I founded The Bike project in my spare time while at my last charity. I left that charity to run it full time in March 2013. So we’ve been going two and a half years”.

Talk us through how The Bike Project works?

“Our core work involves collecting bikes donated through individuals, police, local councils and various different organisations. These bikes are refurbished by the mechanics in our workshop”.

“Refugees can come and get a bike from us - most are referred from refugee organisations but people can turn up on the door.”

“We have just started providing basic cycle safety training to refugees too. Every refugee receives a set of lights, a lock and a helmet. Many choose to become regular volunteers with us – this way they are also involved in the process of fixing the bikes”

“We also have a project that teaches refugee women to cycle. It quickly came to our attention that we were becoming very male dominated. When we did some research we realised that this was because most refugee women come from patriarchal societies where it is not socially acceptable for women to cycle. We got a little bit of funding from TFL and a private trust. We run that project every Tuesday with the Jesuit refugee service”.

Have you had any specific success stories?

“One of our success stories is Resom (pictured above) who is working next door. He initially came to us as a refugee and soon started volunteering for us. As he had leave to remain, he was allowed to work. He had a knack for bike mechanics so we supported him to train as a mechanic. We now employ him 3 and a bit days per week.”

You have recently been sponsored by the Law firm Winckworth – Sherwood to become a member of Localgiving. Have you explored working with businesses before and would you say there are any particular benefits from working with businesses?

“We are really grateful to Winckworth - Sherwood for supporting us. We encourage them to visit and see what we do. We look forward to working with them in the future”.

“We are a charity and social enterprise. Part of our income comes from providing bike servicing to firms in the city with commuter cyclists - so we work with a lot of big and medium sized businesses”

“The great thing about working with businesses is that people who work in the private sector really like to feel that their skills can be useful (to charities). You can get a lot out of a relationship if you can find a way to use these skills. For example, our treasurer is the financial director of a private equity firm in the city. It is important for him to be able to use his skills in a way that helps a charity.”

“When working with a business if there is a way for you to utilise their skills, this can be the core of a really productive relationship in terms of volunteering and potentially financially.”   

    • To find out more about the bike project or donate please visit: The Bike Project

    • To find out about groups supporting refugees and asylum seekers in your area, you can search for relevant charities HERE