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  • 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.    
    4892 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   
    3807 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.       
    3371 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    
    3135 Posted by Lewis Garland
Featured charities 2,390 views Mar 21, 2016
Then the Flood Came: lessons from the Calderdale appeal

For most of us, Boxing Day 2015 was the usual mix of family films and limp leftovers. Sadly, the residents of Calderdale, West Yorkshire witnessed very different scenes.

Lashing overnight storms saw the River Calder burst it's banks - the results were devastating.  

That night, the news brought the whole country images of upturned trucks, streets turned into canals and blanketed, huddled people. On seeing these images, many people were moved to offer their support.

As these events unfolded, Localgiving member, Community Foundation for Calderdale (CFFC), found itself at the centre of this (meteorological and media) storm.

Through their quick and decisive response, CFFC turned this extra attention into essential funds. As I write, CFFC has raised over £2.5 million to support the community in its recovery. £250,000 of which has come through its Localgiving appeals page. This has made Calderdale Flood Relief Appeal the most successful Localgiving appeal to date.

We recently spoke to Emma Bolger, Marketing and Events Manager at CFFC, to discuss how they worked with the national media, the impact of the appeal, and any lessons that other local charities could take from their experience.

Tell us about Community Foundation for Calderdale, your history and what you do?

CFFC is one of 42 Community Foundations in the UK, we are dedicated to strengthening local communities, creating opportunities and tackling issues of disadvantage and exclusion. We manage funds donated by individuals and organisations, building endowment and acting as the vital link between donors and local needs, connecting people with causes, and enabling clients to achieve far more than they could ever by themselves.

This year we are celebrating our 25th anniversary in Calderdale, in that time we have  awarded over 8500 grants totalling over  £17m to charities, community groups and individuals in crisis locally.

How have the funds from your appeal been spent and how will you use the remaining funds?

We have been overwhelmed by the generosity shown by individuals and businesses from across the UK, within hours of launching our LocalGiving appeal page we had thousands of pounds donated. It is because of those amazing people were able to instantly assist those affected.

The first thing we did was to purchase and deliver cleaning materials to the worst hit areas, 100’s of sweeping brushes, shovels, bottles of cleaning fluid, mops, buckets, and protective gloves and facemasks to keep those cleaning up safe.

We then opened a grants program, our first support was £200 emergency grants, and these grants supported people in the immediate aftermath helping them with basic needs such as food and shelter.

We have also supported people who were displaced by the flooding, many of whom will not be able to live in their own homes for 6-9 months; supporting them with further grants to help them resettle in temporary accommodation.

After a couple of weeks it became apparent that people in the valley had also lost income with over 1500 local businesses affected. To address this we supported people with hardship grants. We have also supported 103 businesses in their recovery.

Most recently we have support people with, white goods, carpets and flooring, furniture, and further grants to support them in their recovery. We have supported over 1500 applications from individuals and 130 applications from businesses.

You were quick off the mark with your reaction the floods.  Did you already have contingency plans for such circumstances? What tips could you give other groups about setting up and coordinating a disaster appeal?

We led on the 2012 flood appeal in Calderdale, and our Chief Exec has been part of four flood appeals, so we had some experience with raising funds for flooding. However, we have never seen flooding on the scale we did on Boxing Day.

The experience gained from the other appeals definitely helped us, but there is no amount of planning that can replace the quick thinking and dedication shown by the Community Foundation team. They left their families on Boxing Day, gave up their Christmas break and started to do what they do best, support the community.  From setting up the appeal to processing grants they were here, everyday living and breathing the disaster, coming up with new and imitative ways to support people.

We learnt a lot from 2012, we knew that time was of the essence, that whatever we did whether it is getting cleaning materials out to people or grants, it had to happen immediately.

Emma's top tips

  • Act immediately – Gather the team who will work on the project and agree a way forward, give people specific tasks and update each other regularly.
  • Seek and listen to local intelligence – Don’t assume you know what is needed. Communities will tell you what they need, just ask them.
  • Be visible and consistent – Find clear channels for communication, social media email, TV, radio. Be consistent in your messaging; don’t add to the medley of confusion that will inevitably be happening on the ground.


How did you go about obtaining press coverage during the floods?

We used every media outlet we could; we contacted them via social media, telephone, and email, every way possible until they listened. We were quick to contact them and to establish our role, quickly we became the go to people to find out what was happening and soon they were calling us.

What measures did you put in place to deal with the extra coverage you were receiving in this time?

I was appointed to lead on media coverage. Having one person handling press, interviews, social media proved to be key in keeping the messaging clear. This enabled CFFC  to  build a mutually beneficial relationship with the press .

What lessons have you learned about working with the national press?

Find out what angle they want to cover from the start; don’t be afraid to lose an interview because you ask what angle they are pushing. You need to know this so that you can be prepared for the questions.

Its ok to not answer a question, we were asked to comment on lots of issues that are not relevant to our role in the disaster recovery, for example we were asked to comment on cuts to flood defences. For us this is not the issue at hand. The issue is supporting people in immediate need.

Do you plan to follow up on the coverage and support you received?

We have some exciting initiatives launching that have come about because of the flooding. We intend to contact the press again to cover them.

We are launching a legacy fund – WaterMark Calderdale. Local businesses can sign up to sell a product or service and a percentage of the sale will go in to a fund that will support people in the event of another flood.

We are also launching an alternative to insurance (a problem for many in Calderdale who can’t get flood insurance) called FloodSave.  Businesses and individuals not covered by FloodRE can apply to become a member.  They save £10/£25/£50 a month with us and, in the event of a flood, we will match fund their savings by 25%.

To find out more or donate to Community Foundation for Calderdale, you can visit the Calderdale Flood Relief Appeal Here


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