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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.    
    5031 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   
    3944 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.       
    3501 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    
    3250 Posted by Lewis Garland
Fundraising stories 2,263 views Jan 23, 2017
Wise Words from Alistair Sill: Local Hero Champion 2016

Every year our Local Hero campaign shines a spotlight on the incredible work of individual fundraisers. This campaign sees fundraisers competing over a month to top our Local Hero leader board.

2016 saw a nail-biting race to the finish line, with fundraisers changing positions right until the last minute. Our eventual champion, Alastair Sill, secured an incredible 317 unique funders, raising over £4000 for Taking Flight Theatre Company - plus a further £1000 in prize money.

We recently had a chat with Alistair to discuss what inspired him to take part in Local Hero, to find out what his greatest challenges were during the month and to gather some tips for those interested in participating in this year’s campaign.

How did you hear about the Local Hero campaign and why did you choose to support Taking Flight Theatre Company?

“The theatre company had heard about the Local Hero campaign and told me about it as it coincided with plans I had already been making to fundraise for them”

“I have worked with them for 6 years now as an audio describer. I recognise how hard they are trying to make their work accessible to a wide audience and the difficulties they face”

How did you decide upon your challenge?

“I enjoy cycling and wanted to do a cycling challenge anyway. My decision to ride from the East to the west of Wales matched the tour route the theatre company were taking.”

“Throughout the ride I stopped off in places they were performing to explain what the company was doing. The theatre company sent out actors to the schools before I arrived and delivered iambic pentameter workshops. I did some games involving audio description and talked about my role and explained what audio description is"

What training did you do for your challenge?

“I followed a hilly route quite near my house when cycling. There is also a lake quite near where I live that I cycled around. I built up to the challenge, got my stamina up and made sure I had enough supplements.”

What did you enjoy most about participating in, and winning, Local Hero 2016?

“I didn’t expect as many people to get behind it as they did. I wanted to do something to help Taking Flight Theatre Company. I was quite baffled by how many people got into the idea.”
“I got into the friendly competitive edge. You respected everyone who was participating, all of the charities and causes they were raising money for were equally important so you wanted them to do well.”

“The competition got lots of people involved who I hadn’t been in touch with a while. It was a nice surprise when people you hadn’t seen in a while donated. The amount people donated was also a surprise – we had somebody donate £500!”

“It got really close at the end. Beth House, one of the directors of the company got really involved. I could see emails coming through saying “we need 7 more sponsors and then we’ve done it, we’ve only got 10 minute left”. I tweeted a lot about what I was doing and put updates on Facebook too."

“The fact it was so tight created a great atmosphere and built up publicity for the company. It also engendered excitement for the tour before it had even begun.”

Do you know how the money raised during Local Hero was spent ?

“Taking Flight are about putting on accessible performances with artistic and creative integrity. The signers for example are characters in the play. There was a deaf actor playing the role of Juliet and the audio description was integrated into the performance. All of these things push the boundaries.”

“These things take time to work in during rehearsals. The money raised from Localhero was spent on creating even more accessible performance so that people can go to watch the shows who wouldn’t ordinarily think about going to watch a live performance - to ensure nobody is isolated or segregated in any.”

What advice would you give to people interested in participating in Local Hero 2017?

  • Pick something you are going to enjoy doing that can engender an appetite among the public. The more you enjoy the prospect of doing the challenge yourself the more you will be able to sell that idea to other people. Make sure you do something you can really throw yourself into and have a good time while you’re doing it – you may not do something like it again
  • Ensure you have people around you who are supportive and as into the idea as you are. You’ve got to think about the challenge you are doing and so you’ve got to get other people to help with getting the message out. It’s very difficult to do the campaigning and do the challenge yourself – although its important to play a part in that.
  • Don’t be afraid of getting in touch with as many people you can. You’ll be surprised how many people will support you.
  • Enjoy the competition - the Localgiving website is really easy to use and you can view your growing sponsors . And the fact that the winners get an extra £1000 on top of what they raise is a really great incentive.

 

Found this blog post useful? You may also like:   

Local Charity and Community Group Sustainability Report 2016

Big Strong Heart: Tips for your Charity Challenge

What Makes Local Charities Unique?