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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.    
    6505 Posted by Lewis Garland
  • 16 Oct 2018
    Your charity does amazing things. You know this, we know this – but do your potential donors or volunteers know this? While it is true that we live in an increasingly visual world, it is important not to underestimate the enduring power of persuasive writing. It (literally) pays to spend time on crafting your copy. Your browser does not support the video tag. In this blog I give six essential copywriting tips to help you raise awareness and bring in funding for your cause. Know your audience Before you put digit to key, the most important question should always be ‘who am I writing for and why?’ We all care about different causes. In most cases our interests are dictated by our characteristics and life experiences. Think carefully about what demographic you are writing for and how best to engage, gain the trust and motivate this audience. Harness the power of human stories Mastering the art of emotional engagement is vital for any copywriter, none more so than for those of us working with and for charities. One of the most effective ways to do this is through focussing on human stories.  Try to find a simple, memorable story that encapsulates the work that your organisation does and the impact it makes (to a charity marketer this should be the holy grail). Whenever possible, try to include direct quotes from your beneficiaries or clients. This not only makes your copy more emotionally engaging but also helps to build trust with your audience. Choose your stats wisely While an excessive use of numbers may be a turn-off, carefully chosen and positioned statistics can both hook readers in and motivate them to act. Statistics can be used both to show your charity fully understands an issue and to succinctly convey the impact of your own work.   Keep it simple When we are passionate about a cause, it is tempting to tell people everything about the need for our work and the impact we make.  Equally, for lovers of words, it may be frustrating to be told to tone down your language. However, with attention getting shorter, complex arguments and florid prose are better kept for elsewhere. Ask yourself what your reader really needs to know and be ruthless with the rest. Spend time on your subject line We’ve all done it. Worked for hours honing our perfect piece of copy and then quickly cobbled together a subject line or title. However, as the tabloids have proven year on year out, a bold, controversial or catchy headline can make a huge difference. Infact, this is why professional headline writers exist! A good starting point when writing title or headline is to follow the ‘4 R’s’: Urgent, Unique, Useful, and Ultra-specific. Time and tailor your ask Think of each paragraph you write as part of your reader’s  journey, a journey that leads to your call to action. Charities too often describe their groups’ activities and then tag on a quick, loosely related call-to-action at the end. If we want people to donate, volunteer their time, or share our message, you need to consider when the most effective time will be to ask for their support (i.e. at what point your reader will be most motivated to act). Sometimes, this may be at the start to instill a sense of urgency; other times it will come towards the end after having made a robust argument for your cause. And remember, the call-to-action itself should be as  simple, persuasive and specific as possible. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Writing great copy will always be as much about magic as maths. However, following these six tips will go a long way to helping you attract the supporters, donors or fundraisers you need!    Was this blog helpful? Why not check out the following blogs too: 5 of the best free design tools to help your charity shine 3 Charities To Have On Your Radar For Social Media Inspiration
    6313 Posted by Lewis Garland
  • 09 Sep 2019
    The nights are drawing in, the leaves are colouring, the air is beginning to cool, children are yelling on their way to school, advisers are skulking in Westminster Hall, and it turns out your team’s big summer signing isn’t the new Messi after all. Autumn is officially here! Each season comes with its own set of fundraising opportunities. In this blog we highlight a few events for you to hang your fundraising hat on this Autumn. 22nd September (week of) - Harvest Festival This ancient festival (coinciding with the Harvest moon, the full moon closest to the autumn equinox) celebrates the end of the harvest season. Traditionally linked with charity, particularly sharing food, this is a great opportunity for poverty focussed charities and community groups to highlight their vital work. 27th October - Diwali Diwali, the 5 day Hindu festival of lights celebrates both Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and the triumph of good over evil (I’m sure we can find a fundraising angle there). This festival, celebrated by 1 billion people worldwide including Jains, Sikhs and Newar Buddhists as well as Hindus, gives ample opportunity for some South Asian themed fundraising fun – from food and fireworks nights to lantern making workshop. 31st October - Halloween  When the spirits rise with ghastly cries, and the maggots crawl from hollow eyes, and the hairy-legged spiders creep and the reaper comes to help you sleep… Halloween provides an excellent opportunity to hit those fundraising ghouls! This year the 31st is also (the latest) Brexit day - draw connections as you wish. Read our Halloween blog for some ideas to help you make a little money from the night of the macabre 2nd November - Day of the Dead Día de Muertos, a Mexican tradition celebrating departed ancestors, gets bigger and bigger each year here in the UK. Why not throw a Day of the Dead fundraising party – complete with  face-paints, sugar-skulls, decoration, libations, salsa rhythms and tasty tostadas? 5th November – Bonfire Night Remember, remember the 5th of November ...  Who doesn’t love wrapping up warm, writing your name (as if you write anything else) in the cool air with a sparkler, and watching the night sky come alive with colour? A stall selling hot food and drinks and marshmallow sticks would go down a treat! I hope these ideas give you some food for thought. Let us know about your group's autumn fundraising plans and, as ever, we’ll be happy to share your fundraising events and feats in our blog, newsletter and across our social media channels. 
    6277 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   
    5224 Posted by Lewis Garland
Featured charities 3,909 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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