Blog

louise-jenkins

Meet the team – Louise Jenkins By

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I was obsessed with tennis from the age of about 7. I would spend summers glued to the screen when Wimbledon was on, dreaming one day I would be just like my idol; Steffi Graf. I played right up until I was about 17 but a back injury and the shift from school to university meant I slowly stopped playing. I’m hoping to pick the racket up again this summer as I really miss playing and there is nothing better than smashing a ball around as a form of release and self-care!

What happened in-between?

Following my A-Levels I studied for my BA Sociology. I had applied to do a combined course with Women’s Studies however, just before starting they informed me they were closing the women studies department, whilst disappointed I continued with a straight BA Sociology, picking women’s studies modules at any opportunity I could. From university, I worked within the women’s sector in the UK focusing on ending violence against women in training, front-line support to policy and development roles. After 5 years, I left London to travel Kenya before taking a place with VSO working in Tanzania on women’s and girls’ rights and gender equality, where I had the pleasure of working alongside and learning from incredible feminists.

What is your role now?

I’m now an Independent Consultant in Women’s and Girls’ Rights, specialising in ending violence against women and girls and achieving gender equality. It has been an incredible journey so far as I have been fortunate to work with some great and inspiring clients. I love the diversity and flexibility the work gives me especially as I am half way through doing a part-time MA in Gender, Violence and Conflict. My research is focusing on exploring older women’s (un) spoken experiences of discrimination and violence in Tanzania. I recently returned from my research trip in Tanzania and I am currently in the data analysis stage with some exciting themes occurring already. It is going to be an interesting few months as I continue to process the data and write the dissertation but I am excited to see what appears and where this may take me next!

Why have joined the collective?

Throughout my career I have had the opportunity to work alongside both larger and smaller NGO’s. The passion and drive is no different between the two but budgets and capacity constraints can often hinder smaller NGO’s from growing. I agree wholeheartedly with Fair Development’s ethos that smaller NGO’s shouldn’t be excluded from accessing affordable and appropriate expertise to enable them to grow to their full potential.

I think the collective is a great social enterprise made up of incredibly talented experts in their own fields which I am really excited to be a part of and look forward to collaborated with a variety of NGO’s!

Share post

louise-jenkins

It’s time to #ChangeHerStory, it’s time to ratify the Istanbul Convention! By

Guest blog by Louise Jenkins, member of the FDC Collective and Women’s and Girls’ Rights Independent Consultant. Original post can be seen here

 

On the 16th December 2016, 135 MPs showed up to the second reading of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Bill, which calls on the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention. Despite misogynistic Philip Davies’ attempt to block the Bill with his shameful filibustering, the Bill made it into committee stage. The Bill is now set for its third reading on Friday 24th February 2017.

Why do we need to ratify the Istanbul Convention?

Last November saw the launch of the first Femicide Census report which showed 936 women were killed by men, in England and Wales, between 2009- 2015. Furthermore, the report found;

  • 598 women were killed by their current or former partners
  • 75 women were killed by their sons
  • 149 women killed were aged over 66

 

We continue to read in the press how the killings of women, especially within a domestic situation, are ‘isolated incidents’. I find this rhetoric problematic as it minimises the issue of violence against women and fails to join the dots and highlight patterns of behaviour. We need to change the narrative to one which states that violence against women and girls is not inevitable and that it is a society-wide issue.

Over the years I have been fortunate to work alongside incredibly passionate and dedicated sisters in the fight to end violence against women, working in frontline, training, policy and research capacities. I have seen first-hand the impact specialist, women led and women only support services have had on women and girls fleeing and at risk of violence. These specialist services are carrying out life-saving and life-changing work to support women and girls within our communities. However, as a result of the continued cuts to services funding is proving a greater challenge than ever before and we are seeing specialist services closing at a speed which is quite frankly frightening and incredibly dangerous.

The Istanbul Convention (Council of Europe Convention on prevention and combating violence against women and domestic violence) is the most comprehensive legal framework on combating violence against women and girls, outlining fundamental principles relating to the provision of specialist services, including refuges, rape crisis centres and counselling, all of which I have seen be incredible life lines for women fleeing violence. Furthermore, the convention mandates the protection of women from many forms of violence including domestic violence, sexual violence, human trafficking, sexual exploitation, including in the sex industry, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, stalking and forced sterilisation. Minimum standards are set out which emphasise state responsibility to protect women and girls, tackling violence against women in ‘all its forms’ during peace time and times of armed conflict.

The UK Government have been stalling ratification of the convention, since signing it back in 2012. Without ratification the once, sign of commitment to ending violence against women and girls, is nothing more than rhetoric and a piece of paper.

What can I do?

It is still so important to keep up the pressure with MP’s, especially as the third reading falls in the middle of Brexit talks. Once again we need at least 100 MPs to show up to ensure the Bill progresses into the Lords. I have contacted my MP, who attended and supported the Bill at the second reading, to request she continues her support for the Bill by turning up and voting at the third reading on February 24th 2017.

Contacting your MP is easy, I like to send personal emails/letters initially before following up on social media, especially to acknowledge whether they are supporting or not. This also helps IC CHANGE monitor the numbers of MP’s who may turn up at the third reading. Please take a few minutes to contact your MP in whichever mode is accessible to you – phone, email, letter, social media and/or constituency surgery.

To find out how to contact your MP visit the IC CHANGE website, which has heaps of great resources and information on how to get involved.

Voting in support of this Bill gets us one step closer to the UK having progressive legislation on ending violence against women and girls, which can help #changeherstory by securing vital protection from violence for women and girls across the UK!

Louise Jenkins is a Women’s and Girls’ Rights Independent Consultant with 10 years experience designing and delivering bespoke and innovative training and advocacy projects. Louise specialises in consultations on ending violence against women and girls (VAWG) and achieving gender equality. With excellent communication, research and negotiation skills, Louise has a proven track record of building robust relationships with a wide range of donors, partners and stakeholders both nationally (in the UK) and internationally. 

If you would like to access Louise’s support at a reduced rate especially for small NGOs, please do get in touch.

Share post

jasonwilliams600x400

Use your Google Ad Grant, or lose it! By

Guest blog by Jason Williams, a member of the FDC Collective and Google Ad Grants and AdWords for nonprofits expert.

Remember that sinking feeling when your parents said they were stopping your pocket money? Okay, maybe that wasn’t such big deal, but replace Mum and Dad with Google and turn 50p a week into $10,000 per a month…that’s a bit more scary right?

That was the case for small NGO, Team Kenya , but luckily for them Google has a friendly, two strike parenting policy, before permanently removing charities from Google Ad Grants.

What is a Google Ad Grant?

Google Ad Grants is free Google AdWords credit. It uses Google AdWords, a form of online advertising which millions of commercial businesses pay to use, but as a charity you get $10,000 per a month for free. Your adverts will appear mostly in Google search results. Google AdWords works on a system of “bidding” for keywords people use in a Google search, for example ‘charity in Uganda’ or ‘donate to children’s charity’. With a Google Ad Grant you can bid a maximum of $2.00 per a click. $10,000 could equal around 300 clicks/visitors to your website every day!

Google suspended Team Kenya’s Google Ad Grant status because they hadn’t logged in once a month and made at least one change to their account in 90 days. This is one of Google’s official rules they are clear about, the others can be found here and are worth knowing.

Team Kenya had no idea their account had been closed and only found out by eventually logging in to be presented with “Your account isn’t active – Your ads aren’t running because we’ve disabled your account. Contact us.” This can be easily & quickly fixable by contacting Google.

 

Ulysses-Pro-Writing-Hero-4

A common problem for small NGOs like Team Kenya is that they don’t have a dedicated member of staff responsible for managing something like Google AdWords,  or perhaps a volunteer had once set it up but since left the organisation without handing over their expertise and knowledge.  Sadly, it often slips to the bottom of the list of priorities even though it could potentially be very beneficial to the charity. That’s been the experience of Victoria at Team Kenya,

Our AdWords account was set up by a volunteer years ago, who then stopped managing it and so we just left it ticking away in the background thinking nothing of it. We didn’t know it would be closed down if we didn’t use it. We also don’t really have the skills in-house to effectively use AdWords so Jason has really come to our rescue!

Google does send account notifications to a registered email address warning you that this will happen however it is often the case that the person who set the Google Ad Grant up, no longer works for the charity, so the warnings can go unnoticed.

How to make sure Google doesn’t cut you off…

The best way to stop this happening is to put a repeat reminder in your calendar to log in once a month and make at least one change to your account every 90 days or find someone who will manage it for you.

Up until cut off, Team Kenya had benefitted from $115,000 worth of free advertising with Google. Their adverts had attracted over 75,000 visitors to their website and been a steady source of people discovering Karibuni Cottages, which provide income for the charities projects.

In addition to these rules, Google have recently updated their eligibility guidelines. With these changes, Google Ad Grants became part of a larger program called Google for Nonprofits. To keep your Ad Grants account active, you need you to enrol in the Google for Nonprofits program before 31st March 2017. Those who need to do something about this will have received an email from Google.

Victoria, who is a Co-Founder of Team Kenya, and the Founder and Director of FDC. Jason Williams is one of the consultants working in partnership with FDC, offering his Google Ad Grant expertise to small NGOs at reduced rates. If you’d like his help via Fair Development Consulting you can contact Victoria at vic@fairdevelopmentconsulting.co.uk or you can reach Jason directly at hello@jasonwilliams.work.

Share post

ideas

Community Fundraising 101 By

Guest blog by Rebecca Curtis-Moss, a member of the Fair Development Consulting Collective. This blog first appeared on  .

In the wake of last summer’s media frenzy on fundraising, I’m sure I won’t be the only person in our wonderful sector longing for more positive stories in the papers.

Nowadays, community fundraising is so popular that many feel overwhelmed when it comes to getting press attention. What’s the hook? How do I get people interested in my supporter’s event? Sure, it can be difficult to compete with so many others also fundraising, but if you follow these simple steps, you’ll have the best chance of getting it right.

Tip 1: Get it from the horse’s mouth 

There’s only so much that any charity can do to promote its supporter-led events.

The key to community fundraising really is in the name itself. Everyone has a reason to fundraise, and – whilst some pick a charity at random – more often than not, the catalyst for raising funds for charity is very personal. Telling an emotive, personal story can be hugely powerful – particularly if it comes from the fundraiser themselves.

Let’s use an example. This is Ally Clift with his older brother, Adam.

Ally was just thirteen years old when he lost Adam to blood cancer in March this year. Devastated by the loss, Ally decided that he wanted to do something that would help raise awareness of and funds for a blood cancer charity. A lifelong tube-enthusiast, Ally decided to visit all 270 London Underground stations in just twenty-four hours, in what he called a ‘Tube Challenge’.

Ally made sure that his story was told on his Just Giving page, and on social media. Granted; the teenager had help from his family, but the point is that he told his story, and in his own words.

His aunt Margaret Clift-McNulty, a professional fundraiser herself, explained:

‘I knew it was such a powerful story because of Ally’s age, his ingenuity, and the experiences that he and his family had been through. It was powerful and special – different from the usual fundraising challenge.’

Tip 2: Be good, be social 

Fundraising online is often under estimated; however, last year £100 million in donations to Just Giving came from Facebook referrals. Amazing, right? And that’s not all: check out the infographic below for more stats.

Just Giving Infographic

Ally and his family shared regular updates on the day of the challenge, and even made a hashtag for the event, #WheresAlly. They also used Thunderclap to raise awareness and generate buzz in advance of the event, and on the big day itself.

Tip 3: Make it really easy for people to donate 

If you’re one of the thousands of charities using Just Giving, be sure to tell your supporters about text giving codes. Ally wore a t shirt prominently displaying his text donation code on the day of the challenge, which he also wore on all media appearances. He even featured an image of the code on his Thunderclap homepage (pictured below). His text code was also featured in newspaper articles, making it really easy for people to donate in real-time.


This clearly paid off, with Bloodwise’s Insight and Analysis Manager Owen Bowden telling me:

‘We could see traffic to the website spike when Ally was featured on the news. The only other time we’ve seen spikes like that have been driven by celebrities tweeting, or when The Calendar Girls film is screened on TV. As well as over £35,000 raised through Ally’s Just Giving page, we saw an increase in the number of donations through our website for the period of coverage; in fact, we received the highest number of donations in a single day for this year!’

Ally’s aunt Margaret added:

‘I’ve lost count of the people who told me that after the story broke on BBC Breakfast, they were just sitting pressing refresh and watching the donations go up and up. Ex colleagues; people I went to school with; relatives; the guys at Bloodwise and Transport for London – it was like we were part of one huge Team Ally across the country. It was really moving’. 

And finally… Always be prepared 

It’s a fact that if fundraisers have pre-prepared photos and a press release, they will vastly increase their chances of getting media coverage. Whilst our charities may not have the resources to create bespoke press packs for our supporters, we can and should encourage our fundraisers to create these themselves, using a basic template. That way, our messages are on brand, and the authenticity of the story remains intact.

By being prepared for media interest, Ally’s story was featured far and wide: The Guardian, BBC Breakfast, ITV, The Mirror and The Daily Mail all picked the story up, to name a few. It even got as far afield as South Africa, Malaysia and China! Importantly, the tube-challenge was also featured at a local level in Ally’s hometown of Liverpool. Most local newspapers make it easy to submit a story; there’s either an email address or an online submission form, and this can really help to spark interest.

In total, Ally raised over £35,000 for Bloodwise, and has been shortlisted for Young Fundraiser of the Year at the Just Giving Awards. Well done and good luck, Ally!

If you would like support with your community fundraising, get in touch and see how we can help.

Share post

aaeaaqaaaaaaaalkaaaajdiyowi4zdg3ltlkyzetndywys1iyzizltcwnwe5mjzhnwzmmq

Donors don’t want charities to spend any money on overheads and it’s not OK By

I co-founded a charity called Team Kenya in 2008. From 2008 until 2015, we were fully run by volunteers, and until about 2013 we were proudly using that fact as one of our USPs. People liked the fact that ‘you knew exactly where your money was going’ and that we ‘weren’t wasting any money on staff’.

The charity was founded, as many small charities are, by a small group of extremely dedicated and passionate volunteers, but we didn’t necessarily have any experience in the non-profit sector, or in fundraising. Many years down the line, we had a discussion about whether this was really the best way to operate and the best message to send to our supporters. In 2015, I’m pleased to report that we took on our first paid member of staff and report proudly in our annual review that 91% of donations in 2015 were spent on project costs, with 9% being spent on ‘overheads’.

The overhead problem

My mind was really opened up to the overhead problem when I watched activist Dan Pallotta’s viral TED talk in favour of overhead – The Way We Think about Charity Is Dead Wrong. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their goals and accomplishments (even if that comes with expenses).

Recently in a great article for Harvard Business School, Carmen Nobel discusses Elizabeth A. Keenan’s research into donor attitudes to overheads  and find that “charitable donors are willing to stomach the idea of overhead costs—as long as they know someone else’s donation is covering them”.

Nobel reports:

“Despite the understanding that CEOs of nonprofits need to be paid, if given the choice of where their money would go, most people donating money wouldn’t choose to contribute to the salary of the organization’s CEO,” says Elizabeth A. Keenan, an assistant professor in the Marketing unit at Harvard Business School.

“As nonprofits try so hard to pare down their overhead expenses, they end up feeding the expectation that the overhead ratio can and should be very low,” Keenan says. “As donors see that overhead is low in one organization, they expect it to be low everywhere. Some refer to it as the ‘nonprofit starvation cycle.’”

How is the sector reacting?

Some charities are trying to overcome the overhead problem by coming up with ways for donors to avoid their donation being spent on anything other than direct project costs. For example charity:water have something called the ‘100% Model‘ . They say ‘we depend on private donors, foundations and sponsors to cover everything from staff salaries to basic office systems to office rent and supplies’. This means that 100% of public donations are spent directly on their projects providing clean water to some of the world’s poorest people.

Another charity using this approach is the small UK charity Raise the Roof who state on their website that ‘private donations and merchandise income covers our admin costs, so 100% of your donations go into projects’.

Many in the nonprofit sector, myself included, worry that enabling overhead-free donations in this way will perpetuate the idea that overhead is a bad thing.

Overhead-free donations aren’t the only thing perpetuating the overhead problem. Some charities are even promoting the idea that they don’t need staff to operate. Raise the Roof also say on their website that,

‘We rely on our committed volunteer team, meaning we have no staff costs’

Is this really a message we want to promote across our sector? Is is sustainable for an organisation to have no staff and have donors expecting that 100% of their donation will be spent on projects?

Keenan says, “charities work so hard to basically train or teach their donor base that overhead is important and necessary,”

What can we do?

Acknowledging that administrative expenses are a necessary and critical component of a nonprofit’s success, Keenan and her research partners are investigating alternative ways to mitigate overhead aversion, partially through education campaigns such as Pallotta’s.

It saddens and frustrates me to think that charities, who are held up to such high standards by the public, even more so than the public or private sector organisations, should be expected to operate in a way that prevents them from employing passionate, experienced and dedicated staff members or spending money in a way that will secure the future sustainability of their organisation and support for their beneficiaries.

If you would like to contribute to this conversation, from either perspective, I’d love to hear from you at vic@fairdevelopmentconsulting.co.uk

Share post

aaeaaqaaaaaaaak2aaaajdhmmwnknzhmltc4ndatndbhms05mtg4ltvly2riytaxnjhkna

We need to stop talking about ‘Africa’ By

What do you think of when you think of Africa? If you thought of Acacia trees at sunset, war, safaris, disease or The Lion King, you’re not alone according to a recent v-blog on African stereotypes. African people don’t want your stinky T-shirts just became one of my favourite commentaries on the issue of the (sometimes) damaging narrative of the development sector.

Other favourites include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s  thought-provoking TED talk on the danger of telling a single story and the very relatable article by Virginia Fresne, Director of Programs at Flying Kites, If your kid doesn’t want that ripped pair of pyjama bottoms, why would mine? Virginia writes,

‘Yesterday morning, our office received a box of letters, sent by a bright and earnest group of fourth graders from a Boston school. The parents had asked if the class could be Pen Pals with our students in Kenya.

“Dear Flying Kites orphan, I’m sorry you are poor,” the opening line read’. Oh dear…

It’s not enough to have good intentions

We know the intention of that letter was good, but that’s just the problem. It is not enough to have good intentions. In the African people don’t want your stinky T-shirts v-blog, the presenter makes a statement that stopped me in my tracks,

“I guess if your heart is in the right place, you don’t have to care about development with dignity”.

‘Yes!’ I thought, this rings so true. During my career in the small NGO sector, working mainly with organisations working in Sub-Saharan Africa, I have come across this so many times. At one organisation I was asked by a local football team whether I would like some of the ‘old and tired’ football kit that their team didn’t want anymore. I politely declined as I knew the intention was good, but felt like saying, ‘thank you, but if your team don’t want it anymore why do you think my team in Kenya would want it?’ Worryingly, I’ve also come across this kind of attitude from people working or volunteering within organisations.

What do development organisations tell us about Africa?

Perhaps we’ve become too used to seeing adverts of starving African children in raggy old clothes kicking balls of carrier bags around, and so assume that we must FedEx them our unwanted hand-me-downs. But, I think it’s time to change the narrative. We need to change the way we talk about Africa and a good place to start is for development organisations to change the way they talk about their beneficiaries.

A part of this problem is that many of the larger aid and development organisaions, the ones who can afford TV adverts and printed ads in national newspapers, are the worst culprits when it comes to stereotyping the African continent and their beneficiaries.

Each year The Rusty Radiator award goes to the charity fundraising video with the worst use of stereotypes. The organisers say “this kind of portrayal is not only unfair to the persons portrayed in the campaign, but also hinders long-term development and the fight against poverty.” In 2015, the winner was the Band Aid 30 – Do they know its Christmas video? (by the way, the answer is ‘yes’ they do know it’s Christmas time.) Up for nomination this year, World Vision Australia and Save the Children Netherlands.

But, there’s hope…

The Narrative Project is a research effort and group of organisations passionate about global equity issues and changing the public conversation on global development to foster a more positive outlook. Some larger organisations have also started to shift in the approach of their online advertising with videos like The End of Extreme Poverty from Oxfam.

Some smaller NGOs are leading the way in positive representation of their beneficiaries. Team Kenya are a small NGO working with girls and women in Kenya, you’ll notice something about all the imagery they use on their website and social media – happy, smiling faces, stories of success and empowered beneficiaries telling their own stories. I was a part of the team who worked on Team Kenya’s re-brand, one of the questions we asked was ‘would I want to be portrayed like that?’ or ‘would I want my own child to be portrayed like that?’, if the answer is no, why should we be OK with portraying our beneficiaries like that?

Hub Cymru Africa, The Estelle Trust, MOYODEI and The Congo Tree are just a few other small NGOs making a concerted effort to positively portray beneficiaries.

So, next time you think of Africa, think of what Eliza Anyangwe says in her v-blog, “Africa doesn’t need saving, all she needs is for people to hear ‘Africa’ and simply be open to whatever comes next”.

If your small NGO is leading the way as a positive voice for development, I’d love to hear from you! Please get in touch at vic@fairdevelopmentconsulting.co.uk

Share post

wil-uganda_annapatton

Six ways to energise your blog By

Blogging is a great way to take your supporters behind the scenes, tell inspiring stories, and share what you’re learning as you go. A good blog will also provide useful material to feed your social media channels and — with original and good quality content — improve your search rankings too.

It takes time to craft a good post, though, and writing regularly can be really challenging for small organisations.

But consistency is crucial: if you don’t post regularly (at least once a week), readers assume there’s nothing new and may not return. And if you only post bland workshop summaries or endless variations of the same case studies, few will feel inspired to share them.

So how do you keep your blog fresh? Here are some tips for when you’re running out of ideas.

One: Amplify voices from the field

Frontline staff, volunteers, partners and beneficiaries can inject personality and real-world insight into an otherwise dry organisational blog. Encourage a local staff member to write about a challenge they’re facing. Ask a volunteer to describe something they’ve learned. Share the story of one of your beneficiaries — if it’s difficult for them to write in English (or at all), record 3-5 questions with them, and write it up as a Q&A. Or film the interview (just be sure the audio is decent, and keep it concise) and upload your video. Storytelling agency Mile 91 has some interviewing tips here.

Be aware that this option won’t necessarily be less time-consuming than writing yourself (it may well take longer). And think carefully about what’s genuinely interesting. As Oxfam’s long-experienced blogger Duncan Green writes, “if [blogs from the field] are really crude ‘thank you Oxfam for giving me a new goat’ type blogs, they probably won’t reach many people”.

Two: Use more photographs

 You should try to include a photo with every post, but they can also be the main feature. In-country staff or volunteers could submit pictures, from which you select and post a “photo of the fortnight” (with a prize for the top three of the year?). Make sure to get captions (names, location, and description if needed), as well as permissions of people in the shot.

Encourage staff on field visits to take behind-the-scenes shots, too. Surprising viewpoints or unexpected detail can bring a new angle to an oft-told story.

Working with a professional or a skilled amateur photographer, you could also create a photo story — aim for 5-8 pictures, with a mix of wide angle shots, portraits and close-ups to give a flavour of your theme or a particular programme. For more suggestions, see these tips from NGO Storytelling.

Three: Share what’s not working

It’s tempting to talk only about successes — but for a reader, that gets boring; as humans, we’re naturally drawn towards others’ vulnerabilities. Could you share yours? What’s giving you a headache this month? What’s been the biggest challenge in getting your new project off the ground? Avoid simply complaining or blaming your donor’s complex procedures, though — and perhaps give it a positive twist by explaining how you’re working to overcome obstacles.

Finally, come back to the issue in a few months’ time or a year later. How have things progressed since? What have you learned?

Four: Tell us about the bigger picture

Remind your readers why you exist by talking about the bigger issues sometimes (without even mentioning your organisation). After all, your supporters follow you because they care about sanitation/equality/education, etc. — not because they care about your organisation as such. Help them understand that issue better by highlighting what’s improved worldwide or in your countries of operation. Explain how a new government or a policy change will affect that issue. Or sum up the latest research, and offer your unique take on it.

Five: Use lists

Used in moderation, list-style articles are effective: easy to read online and good for sharing. They’re relatively simple to put together, and can work both for light-hearted topics and more serious content, such as highlighting the key findings from a research report.

Some ideas:

Five things we learned this year

  • Three highlights from our annual report
  • Three reasons World Water Day matters
  • What we’re reading this month
  • Five ways we’re working to improve transparency
  • Six priorities for 2017
  • Five ways we’ve aligned our work to the SDGs

 

Six: Answer questions

If you’re still stuck for what to write about, go back to your audience (in fact, you should probably do this anyway). What do readers often misunderstand about your work that you could clarify in a blog post? What questions or topics keep coming up in your social media pages? What have readers commented about on previous blog posts? What are the hot topics in your sector? Using these as starting points will ensure your blog is genuinely useful — and that means readers will come back for more.

This blog was written by a member of the Fair Development Collective, Anna Patton. 

2016-06-anna-129

Anna is an experienced writer/editor and communications project manager, and has been working with international development organisations since 2007. Currently based in London, she has helped dozens of large and small NGOs — including in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and China — to communicate more effectively and share their stories.

Anna is a regular features writer for Devex and has been published by The Guardian. She also has experience in video production/editing and photography, as well as in designing and delivering communications training.

To find out how Anna can help your small NGO, get in touch!

 

Share post

20160525_0952-Edit

How to write a simple strategic plan for your small charity By

As a leader in a small charity, sometimes future planning and strategising can fall to the bottom of your very long to-do list. But, strategic planning is vital to the success and sustainability of any organisation. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you plan how to get there? Devising a simple 3-5 year organisational strategy for your charity is a great way to ensure you are focused on what you really need to do to achieve your long term goal.

Strategies can be very long and complex, and in larger organisations the strategising process can take months, or even years. That is not necessary in a small organisation, so don’t bite off more than you can chew, keep it nice and simple.

Step one – do a Theory of Change

Theory of Change (ToC) is a method used for planning and evaluation for social change. In a Theory of Change you define your long-term goals first, then map backward to identify the necessary preconditions and actions required to achieve those goals. Ask yourself, ‘What is the long- term change we see as our goal?’-  you may have more than one. There is a great template for creating your Theory of Change here.

Step two – do a SWOT analysis

What are your organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? Think of it as follows:

  • Strengths – GO (e.g. we have a very passionate and engaged Board of Trustees)
  • Weaknesses – INVEST (e.g. we don’t have any full time staff)
  • Opportunities – EXPLORE (e.g. we know someone who may be a great Trustee/volunteer)
  • Threats – MINIMISE (e.g. bad news in the press about charities, how can we avoid this threat?)

Be honest with yourself and try to include more than one person from the organisation when conducting your SWOT analysis. How about involving a beneficiary or service users too?

Step three – get the basics down

The first section of your strategy should be an introduction to your charity’s work; a brief history and background of how your work came to be, your vision, mission, objectives and values. This may also be a good chance to re-assess your vision and mission statements – are they short, succinct, memorable and powerful? Check out some great examples of vision and mission statements for inspiration.

Step four – decide on your objectives for the period of your strategic plan (usually 3 or 5 years)

From your Theory of Change, you should have developed an idea of what you need to do over the coming years to achieve the long-term change you identified as your goal. Choose 3-5 objectives to work towards in the next 3-5 years.

You could have one or two overarching strategic themes and then 3-5 objectives, for example:

Strategic themes

1.   We will take a beneficiary centered approach

2.   We will consider sustainability in all we do

Objectives

1.   Invest in building the capacity of our team of staff, volunteers and Trustees to best support our work

2.   Conduct a community consultation and participatory planning session with key stakeholders to ensure we are listening to our beneficiaries and responding to their needs

3.   Review and refine all programmes to ensure they are effective, efficient and creating long-lasting impact on the lives of our beneficiaries

Step five – identify success measures/Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

How will you know you have succeeded and achieved your objectives? When will you plan to have met these objectives? For each of your objectives answer the following questions:

What are our measures of success/KPIs and when will this be measured?

Example:

Objective 1: Invest in building the capacity of our team of staff, volunteers and Trustees to best support our work.

Step six – create your action plan

This is often the most flexible part of your strategy. It is the part that you can use to help stay focused, keep you from being overwhelmed, and make sure that you stay on track with your goals.

Break down your objectives and goals into quarterly manageable chunks so that you can get started on putting this plan into action. Plan to “re-plan.” Once you know more, you can plan more. Come back to this action plan at least every few months to check in on your progress.

One last thing…

The final thing to do is to put this strategy and plan into action. Having spent valuable time creating this strategy, don’t let it sit in a folder on your computer, unused. The most important element of any strategy is that it is actually used in practice. Try to remind yourself of your strategic objectives regularly and ensure you don’t fall foul of ‘mission drift’ or ‘strategic drift’.

If you have any questions about strategic planning or would like help with your own strategic plan, feel free to contact me on vic@fairdevelopmentconsulting.co.uk.

Share post

Ulysses-Pro-Writing-Hero-4

How to write a simple fundraising strategy By

For many smaller charities, fundraising is a constant uphill battle often resulting in a ‘hand-to-mouth’ situation where funds are raised and spent without any strategic planning or forethought. Finding the time to pause and think strategically about the future can be a challenge, but it is essential for the sustainability of any organisation.

If you’d like to be more strategic in your fundraising, but are not sure where to start, follow these steps to creating a simple fundraising strategy.

Step one: Create an overview of the previous year

What was the breakdown of your incoming funds last year? Where did the majority of your income come from? Create a list of all your sources of income and what proportion of your overall total this accounted for. This will begin to give you an idea of where you do very well, where you could do better and whether you are too reliant on one particular source of income. Different sources of income could include, individuals, major donors, trusts and foundations, community fundraising etc.

Step two: Do a SWOT analysis 

What are your organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? A good way to think of this is:

Strengths – GO (e.g. we have a very passionate and engaged Board of Trustees)

Weaknesses – INVEST (e.g. we don’t have any full time staff)

Opportunities – EXPLORE (e.g. we know someone who may be a great Trustee/volunteer)

Threats – MINIMISE (e.g. bad news in the press about charities, how can we avoid this threat?)

Be honest with yourself and try to include more than one person from the organisation when conducting a SWOT analysis.

Step three: Identify organisational and fundraising aims and objectives

What are your organisations aims and priorities for the year ahead? Do you have plans to grow your projects or employ a member of staff? Choose 5-10 SMART objectives that will help to guide your activities over the year.

For example, an organisational objective could be:

‘To grow [organisations name] annual income to a sustainable level of £150,000 by 2017 to ensure that we have the resources required to fund our programmes.’

A fundraising objective could be:

‘Secure 10 places in the London Marathon and raise £10,000 from the event’ 

Step four: Create your budget

How much does it cost to run your organisation? How much does each project cost, how much is project cost and how much are overheads? Bear in mind that a staff salary may well be a project cost not an overhead, for example if the staff member is delivering a project in country. You need to know this information if you are going to plan your fundraising activity for the year.

Many smaller charities find themselves trapped in the cycle of spending the money as and when it comes in, never knowing how much will be spent from month to month, or year to year. To be sustainable, organisations must budget for the year ahead, and fundraise accordingly. Work out how much each project costs, establish if any funds already exist to fund the project, and work out what is left over for you to fundraise.

Step five: Create your strategy

Now you know how much you need to raise to achieve your objectives and implement your projects, you need to establish how you will raise this money.  For each income stream (i.e. individuals, major donors, trusts and foundations etc.) give yourself a target income based on the previous year’s performance and your budget. Then list a few actionable tasks next to each income stream. For example:

Income stream        Target income      How will we achieve this?

Individuals                      £10,000                    Write to existing donors asking them to increase donation

Step six: Timeline and budget 

Which fundraising activities are you planning to undertake throughout the year to achieve your income target?  What is the timeframe for these?  When do you expect the income generated by these activities to come in?  What are the staffing or volunteer support needs for these activities and how much do you need to invest in your fundraising activities over the year?

Your timeline could be set out in a calendar, a spreadsheet, or you could try a project management tool like Asana or Trello.

If you have any questions about fundraising strategies or if you would like support in creating a fundraising strategy, feel free to get in touch to see how we can help.

Share post

re_teamwork_free

Join our collective of non-profit experts supporting small NGOs to survive and thrive By

Are you a non-profit professional, working freelance or as a consultant? Are you passionate about what you do and about supporting small NGOs that wouldn’t normally be able to access expert help? If so, I want to hear from you!

The background

Victoria Hancock Fell
Victoria Hancock Fell – Founder and Director of Fair Development Consulting

I founded Fair Development Consulting after over 10 years of witnessing the lack of appropriate and affordable support available to very small NGOs. I have volunteered and worked with small NGOs for over 10 years. From 2013-2015, whilst studying for my Masters in NGO Management, I grew increasingly more aware of, and frustrated by, the dominating focus in the sector on large charities, and those based in London. The majority of the course content and academic literature I was presented with during my MSc was geared towards large organisations, with no theory or solutions offered to problems faced by smaller organisations – often my questions were met with a sharp inhale of breath, a shrug of the shoulders and a sympathetic smile…

Over 95% of the UK’s international development sector is made up of small organisations and they make a hugely important contribution to global development, yet appropriate and affordable support for charities of this size is limited. Fair Development Consulting was founded to support these organisations to survive, thrive and secure their future sustainability so they can support their beneficiaries for years to come.

The problem

Many small NGOs are still run by their founders, or by a group of very passionate and dedicated volunteers or Trustees – there is nothing wrong with this way of working, so long as the people doing the work are happy in their roles and the organisation is functioning successfully and sustainably. However, sometimes charities reach a point where they feel working in this way is no longer sustainable, for the organisation itself or the individuals who are giving so much of their time, heart and soul to the project. They then find themselves in a situation where they know things need to change, but they aren’t sure what to do next and they don’t have the budget to hire expensive consultants or employ permanent members of staff to take over from volunteers. There is a period of transition where difficult decisions need to be made and precious fundraised money, that has typically only ever been spent on projects, has to be spent on organisational development.

The solution

In some cases, if charities are not ready to employ a member of staff, short-term, interim support on a freelance/consultancy basis can provide charities with the expertise and help they need to make this transition in a flexible way. Fair Development Consulting goes one step further and provides small NGOs access to a collective of highly skilled and experienced non-profit professionals who cover all the areas of expertise needed for a NGO to succeed. But, most importantly, it offers these organisations access to expert guidance and advice at a rate they can afford – making us the only consultancy focusing specifically on providing affordable support to small global development charities in the UK.

Who are the collective?

Members of the collective are experienced and highly skilled consultants from across the non-profit sector who all make a living working with larger organisations that can afford to pay a usual day rate. They offer a not quite pro-bono but significantly subsidised rate for Fair Development clients and take on work on a case by case basis, depending on their own work flow and their interest in the project – with no obligation to accept a piece of work if their diaries are full.

All members of FDC’s collective will be paid the same rates for work, and these rates will be available on the website in order to be fair and transparent for everyone.

Interested? Questions?

If this sounds like something you’d like to be a part of, I’d love to hear from you – please get in touch at vic@fairdevelopmentconsulting.co.uk 

Vic Hancock Fell – Founder and Director of Fair Development Consulting

 

 

Share post

imageedit_3_4578405022

The small charity health check By

This ‘health-check’ is a good starting point for small charities that are seeking to professionalise, grow and increase efficiency and effectiveness:

1. Take a long hard look in the mirror– and be honest.

Sit down with a pen and paper and do a SWOT analysis of your organisation. If you find it hard to be honest, ask a friend to do it with you, they may ask questions you don’t want to answer. You’ll need to be honest about your strengths and weaknesses if you are going to move forward.

 
2. Get your house in order 

Are all your documents organised in folders, in cloud storage or backed up? Do you have the right insurance in place? Do you have all the policies and procedures you need? Do you have the necessary professional memberships (Institute of Fundraising, Small Charities Coalition, FSI, Bond etc)? With so many other priorities, administration often falls to the bottom of the to do list. However, putting the work in now will save time in the long run.

3. Does your charity make sense to the external world?

You may know what GBV, FGM or NGO mean, but do your supporters? When talking to an external audience, make sure you are talking about yourselves in layman’s terms, no jargon, no sector specific language. Take a look at your vision, mission, strap-line and “key messages” and test them on someone with no knowledge of what you do – if they don’t get it, you need to consider changing them.

4. Get your internal communication right

Do all of your Trustees know your charity’s vision and mission? It sounds crazy but often they don’t. At your next Trustees meeting ask your Board members to each write down what they think the vision and mission of the charity is. If there is some confusion or different interpretations of what you do, then you need to do some work on ensuring everyone is singing from the same song sheet.

5. Believe in yourself, and so will others.

Being a part of a small charity is amazing, no doubt your Trustees, volunteers and staff (if you have any) will all feel passionately about what you are doing. Don’t see this process of professionalisation as something to fear or something that will take away from the amazing thing you’ve created.

If you’d like support with your charity’s health check or would like to learn more, please feel free to get in touch for a chat.

Share post

20160525_1070-Edit-2

How to write a simple fundraising strategy By

For many smaller charities, fundraising is a constant uphill battle often resulting in a ‘hand-to-mouth’ situation where funds are raised and spent without any strategic planning or forethought. Finding the time to pause and think strategically about the future can be a challenge, but it is essential for the sustainability of any organisation, and the sanity of those in charge.

If you’d like to be more strategic in your fundraising, but are not sure where to start, follow these steps to creating a simple fundraising strategy.

Step one: Create an overview of the previous year

What was the breakdown of your incoming funds last year? Where did the majority of your income come from? Create a list of all your sources of income and what proportion of your overall total this accounted for. This will begin to give you an idea of where you do very well, where you could do better and whether you are too reliant on one particular source of income.

Step two: Do a SWOT analysis 

What are your organisation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats? A good way to think of this is:

Strengths – GO (e.g. we have a very passionate and engaged Board of Trustees)

Weaknesses – INVEST (e.g. we don’t have any full time staff)

Opportunities – EXPLORE (e.g. we know someone who may be a great Trustee/volunteer)

Threats – MINIMISE (e.g. bad news in the press about charities, how can we avoid this threat?)

Be honest with yourself and try to include more than one person from the organisation when conducting a SWOT analysis.

Step three: Identify organisational and fundraising aims and objectives

What are your organisations aims and priorities for the year ahead? Do you have plans to grow your projects or employ a member of staff? Choose 5-10 SMART objectives that will help to guide your activities over the year.

For example, an organisational objective could be:

‘To grow [organisations name] income to a sustainable level of £150,000 to ensure that we have the resources required to fund our programmes.’

A fundraising objective could be:

‘Secure 10 places in the London Marathon and raise £10,000 from the event’ 

Step four: Create your budget

How much does it cost to run your organisation? How much does each project cost, how much is project cost and how much are overheads? You need to know this information if you are going to plan your fundraising activity for the year.

Many smaller charities find themselves trapped in the cycle of spending the money as and when it comes in, never knowing how much will be spent from month to month, or year to year. To be sustainable, organisations must budget for the year ahead, and fundraise accordingly. Work out how much each project costs, establish if any funds already exist to fund the project, and work out what is left over for you to fundraise.

Step five: Create your strategy

Now you know how much you need to raise to achieve your objectives, you need to establish how you will raise this money.  For each income stream (i.e. individuals, major donors, trusts and foundations etc.) give yourself a target income based on the previous year’s performance and your budget. Then list a few actionable tasks next to each income stream. For example:

Income stream        Target income      How will we achieve this?

Individuals                         £5,000                Increase existing direct debits by writing to all previous volunteers

Step six: Timeline and budget 

Which fundraising activities are you planning to undertake throughout the year to achieve your income target?  What is the timeframe for these?  When do you expect the income generated by these activities to come in?  What are the staffing needs for these activities and how much do you need to invest in your fundraising activities over the year?

If you have any questions about this topic or would like support in creating a fundraising strategy, feel free to get in touch for a chat.

Share post