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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.    
    5247 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   
    4118 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
    3781 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.       
    3691 Posted by Lewis Garland
Featured charities 2,556 views Jul 05, 2018
Fighting for the rights of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers

Amid the special edition rainbow bank cards and coffee cups, it is very easy to forget that today’s Pride celebrations have their roots in the Stonewall riots and the wider fight for justice for LGBTQI+people.

There is no doubt that there have been incredible strides forward for LGBTQI+ rights over the last quarter of a century  – indeed the very fact that is has become so beneficial for big business to show its support for Pride is testament to how far we have come.

However, we must not be fooled into believing the fight is in any way won. Homosexuality remains illegal in 74 countries, while hate crime and day-to-day prejudice remain issues even in the most progressive countries.

Within the UK, one particularly pressing issue is the fight to protect the rights and ensure the wellbeing of LGBTQI+ asylum seekers. This week, I spoke to Leila Zadah of the UK  Lesbian & Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) about their work to support LGBTQI+ asylum seekers and  advocate for their needs and rights.

What is UKLGIG's mission and what support do you provide to LGBTQI+ asylum seekers? 

"Our mission is to support LGBTQI+ through the asylum process. We are the only charity in the UK that provides specialist support services, legal advice and information, and conducts policy and advocacy work.

We provide psychosocial and practical support to LGBTQI+ people throughout the asylum process. We also provide specialist legal advice and information. We visit LGBTQI+ people if they are claiming asylum and have been placed in a detention centre.

We also advocate for changes in Home Office policy and practice, including an improvement in the quality of decision-making in asylum claims based on sexual orientation or gender identity, an end to the detention of LGBTQI+ people and safer accommodation."

How many  LGBTQI+ people seek asylum in the UK per year and where do the majority of these claims come from?

"Home Office figures published in November 2018 revealed that around 2,000 people apply for asylum each year because of their sexual orientation. Most applications are from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nigeria.

The Home Office data did not include claims on the basis of gender identity but they have committee to publishing that data in future."

Why do LGBTQI+ people need specific support through the asylum process? In what way does the UK asylum system  disadvantage LGBTQI+ people?

"LGBTQI+ people who are seeking asylum are invariably highly marginalised in society. They may have been rejected by their families, friends and communities because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. They often wish to avoid places where other people from their home countries are present for fear of discrimination or harassment; and they are not always welcome in LGBTQI+ spaces because of racism or their immigration status.

Many experience feelings of profound shame and/or internalised homophobia, biphobia or transphobia. Many have also experienced psychological, physical or sexual violence. They often have low self-esteem and low confidence, which impact on their ability to present their asylum claims. Most mainstream refugee organisations do not provide specific services to LGBTQI+ asylum seekers or information tailored to their needs.

Claiming asylum on the basis of your sexual orientation or gender identity is inherently difficult. To be recognised as a refugee, you have to show that you have a well-founded fear of persecution. If your fear of persecution is based on your sexual orientation or gender identity, you also have to prove that you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer, trans or intersex. This would be difficult for any person, but it is even harder if you have been trying to hide your sexual orientation or gender identity because your family, society or country won’t accept it and may harm you. It is also very difficult to overcome feelings of shame and internalised homophobia, biphobia or transphobia to be able to talk about your identity – particularly if any discussion of sexuality is taboo in your culture – to a figure of authority who is going to decide if you can stay in the country.

Unfortunately, sometimes asylum decision-makers in the Home Office use stereotypes to try to decide if someone is LGBTQI+. Sometimes they don’t recognise the importance of cultural context. One caseworker in the Home Office once said that to try to establish someone’s sexual orientation they would “look at how they’ve explored their sexuality in a cultural context – reading Oscar Wilde perhaps, films and music”.

UKLGIG is releasing a report later this month that looks at the reasons why LGBTQI+ asylum claims are rejected. People can receive it by signing up to our newsletter or following us on social media (see below).

People who are seeking asylum are not allowed to work. If they need accommodation, the government will normally provide a shared room in a shared house. LGBTQI+ people in shared asylum accommodation often experience discrimination, harassment and abuse from their housemates. 

People who are seeking asylum can also be held in immigration detention centres. LGBTQI+ people who are seeking asylum find themselves trapped among people who may exhibit the same prejudices and discrimination towards them as people in the country from which they are fleeing. Our joint research with Stonewall, No Safe Refuge, showed that they experience harassment and abuse as a result. Many suffer long-lasting effects on their mental health."

What are you doing to celebrate Pride 2018 and can people join you?

"We will be marching at Pride in London on Sat 7 July. We also have a joint event the Amnesty UK LGBTI Network and African Rainbow Family at UK Black Pride on Sunday 8 July."

How can people support your work in future? 

We are always looking for Volunteers and you can Donate Here.

If you’d like to be involved in our governance, you can become a Member of UKLGIG. Download a form Here.  

People can also: