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  • 21 Feb 2017
    Conchita Garcia, Head of Projects and Fund Development at the FSI discusses skills gaps in the charity sector and how the FSI plans to support small charities. Supporting the small charity sector Small charities carry out some amazing work, aiding some of the most vulnerable communities; they are a key part of civil society. They play an important role in supporting the economy, in building social cohesion and in integrating those individuals who are in danger of being marginalised from society.   Having the relevant skills to undertake this important role is vital to ensure an efficient, effective and sustainable small charity sector. However, our research shows time and time again that small organisations often struggle to train staff in the skills and practices that would support them to secure more funding and run their services more effectively. That is why every two years The FSI assesses the skills gaps within the small charity sector to get a sense of training needs, to ensure the services of small charities are meeting the needs of those that use them. What are the gaps? Our skills survey showed that the areas in need of expertise, according to respondents, were lobbying (49%), using social media (44%), structuring communications (46%) and the latest HR laws and practices (27%). Areas where small charities rated themselves as performing well included team working, basic computer literacy and leadership, as well as working in partnership with other organisations. Why do these gaps exist? Respondents cited a lack of funding (64%), time (56%) and locally available training (23%) as the main reasons why small charities fail to fill these skill gaps. Our research also shows that the impact of these skills gaps is an increased workload across the organisation (61%) and an increased time taken to deliver the work (51%). Going forward We feel passionately that when skills gaps directly cause an increase in workload and time taken to deliver services, something needs to change. The demand for training continues to be significant and clearly remains a core element in addressing skills gaps in the sector. It is therefore essential to consider what the nature of available training is, and how this can be tailored to effectively address the needs of small charities. In order to support small charities and community groups to fill these training needs, the FSI run an annual, heavily subsidised skills conference, taking place in Central London on 9th March 2017. This year’s Skills Conference will provide 200 small charity delegates the chance to access a range of expert speakers to help build essential, back office skills. Small charities and community groups are encouraged to select their skills gaps and we will match them to workshops taking place throughout the conference. On the day, delegates will take away relevant and practical skills from four out of 20 interactive workshops. To find out what topics are on offer, and to book on to the conference click here. Venue: Resource for London, 356 Holloway Rd, London N7 6PA Date: Thursday 9th March Time: 9.30am-4.30pm (registration from 9.00am) Cost: £15 for FSI members (value of equivalent conference £295)   Found this blog post useful? You may also like:    Local Charity and Community Group Sustainability Report 2016 What Makes Local Charities Unique? Open University Launches New Voluntary Sector Courses
    4081 Posted by Conchita Garcia
Tips & guides 7,116 views May 31, 2017
Maximising Your Fundraising Opportunities

At the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) we support small and local charities and community organisations (with a turnover under £1.5 million), providing free or very heavily subsidised training and support. We were established in 2007 to help these organisations keep their doors open for the vulnerable groups they work with.

We do this via a learning programme which focusses on fundraising, governance, measuring and demonstrating impact and strategy and planning. Unsurprisingly, by far the most popular area for support is fundraising.

At a time when charities are facing unprecedented funding cuts and an increasing demand for services (REF) it is more important now than ever before that we are maximising our potential to secure funds. Some of our top tips to help you do this include:

Get your house in order

How are you supposed to effectively support the sustainability for your organisation if you don’t know exactly how much you need to fundraise and where you are going to get it? Developing a fundraising strategy can often be dismissed as a paper exercise, but actually this is the road map to your fundraising success. It builds a clear plan of activity to be followed whilst also evaluating the activities that are likely to bring you the greatest return on investment.

It obviously can’t be denied that it takes time and effort to build a fundraising strategy, however the direction it provides will support you to maintain a fundraising focus which will help save you time later down the line when you are attempting to deliver against fundraising targets.

Evaluate and Review as you go

It is very east to fall into a trap of activity simply because ‘that’s the way we’ve always done it’. Reviewing and refreshing your activity is essential to ensure you truly are investing your time and resource in the most fruitful fundraising activities for your charity. The only way you will know to put a stop to the activities that don’t bring in the required return is to evaluate each one against key performance indicators or targets and not being afraid to say lets try something different. This is where your fundraising strategy will come in handy again as you will have thought out in advance what you would expect to see from your individual fundraising activities to help you to look at your fundraising efforts objectively.

Stick to the plan (sort of)

Rather than trying to overstretch and have too many fingers in the different fundraising pies, it is better to look realistically at what you can achieve with your resource and work on doing these well. There are only so many hours in a day so there’s no point in setting yourself up to fail, instead you will be supporting your success if you focus on doing a few things really well, rather than trying to do everything at once. There will be time to expand your activity when your focus pays off and you are able to gain extra resource.

At the same time it’s also important to know when it’s appropriate to engage with unexpected opportunities or external events that can support your fundraising activity as flexibility in fund development is also important. A safe way to do this is to establish a process on how to decide whether a new opportunity is worth going for, whether it’s getting sign off from a fundraising steering committee or your Trustees or bringing new ideas to your manager for sign off.

Use Small Charity Week to your advantage

As well as providing a support programme for charities, the FSI are also the organisation behind Small Charity Week. This year it is taking place between 19th-24th June and the week is packed full of opportunities to support your charity to raise vital funds and your profile. The full agenda can be found on the Small Charity Week website but also includes opportunities such as:

  • Places at the FSI’s annual Fundraising Conference in London – there are only a few left so book today

  • A matched fund with LocalGiving providing £25,000 worth of funding

  • An eBay Auction where you keep all of the funds for the items you provide and have the chance of winning £2,000 of matched funds

  • The chance to fundraise from eBay shoppers by submitting a 90-character fundraising message (deadline 2nd June)

  • 1:1 Fundraising Advice via the FSI’s Big Advice Day – expertise comes from a mixture of funders and fundraisers

  • Free fundraising guides to support you to run your own events and activities

  • Leetchi’s money pot competition for the chance to gain an additional £1,000 of funding

  • The opportunity to win cash prizes by asking your supporters to say why they love you on social media

These are just some of the free activities available during the week, with six days of separate activities check out the full agenda to make sure you’re not missing out

Full details on or follow @SCWeek2017 for breaking news.

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