Updated: Jul 17, 2020
In the last couple of weeks, I've been a bit quiet on my blog, mainly because I've been focussing on some new projects. One of my new projects fuses together two things that I have a real curiosity and passion for: tech and helping people.
The organisation I am working with is called the Charity Excellence Framework, an opportunity I found on the Media Trust website when I was scanning for new, home-based volunteer opportunities. The reason I was drawn to it is mainly because it is run entirely by one man, charity sector veteran Ian McLintock, who has built a system to provide a free framework for charities entirely from his own initiative and experience. He's doing all of this unpaid and with no income - it's basically one amazing volunteer story and I wanted to get involved.
The framework is designed to help charities to:
Identify and respond to emerging risks and opportunities
Create a financial sustainability plan
Create a recovery plan and improve fundraising to secure more income
Reduce costs, without damaging the organisation
Buy time to help secure financial recovery
In a nutshell, the system allows charities to do a ‘health check’ in half a day - essentially, finding out in four hours what position your charity is in, giving you the information to put together an action plan to fix any shortcomings. No one really likes doing the admin side of things, as people who start charities do so because they want to help people or a cause they believe in - not because they enjoy the mathematical challenge of trying to balance books in a non-profit scenario.
One of the most alarming stats I've heard from Ian is that more than £600m in Gift Aid is going unclaimed every year. This blew my mind. Currently, the most obvious way of raising funds (without general supporters) is by lobbying the Government, but, despite that fact that charities are already folding and making redundancies, they won’t actually be able to claim what they're already entitled to, because it involves a fair bit of admin work.
Moral of the above story - always stay on top of your Gift Aid claims.
It also aggregates all user data to create big data for the sector - including tracking how well charities have responded, using its COVID19 preparedness metrics. Ian then uses this data to tailor the system to the needs of the charities - large and small.
So, what am I doing here?
I'm working with Ian on the messaging and positioning of the platform, as well as some of the visuals. The subject matter is rather dry at times, (finance and due diligence can be quite a tiresome task for anyone who doesn't have a flair for it) but there is a lot of incredibly useful information that can be gained from actually filling out the forms and seeing a larger picture of where your organisation is. This tool is designed to help make the commercial and managerial parts of running a charity easier - and as someone who has grappled with self-assessment, I can totally appeciate this.
From my interactions with Ian, I've also found out some really interesting and rather astonishing facts about the position of the charity sector:
In 2008, more than 12,000 charities folded as a result of the recession
Charities are lobbying the government for more funds, yet £600m in Gift Aid goes unclaimed every year (putting that stat in again because, WOW)
Over the next 6 months, the IoF/CFG that there will be a £12.4 billion shortfall in income this year
In a DSC survey, over half of charities reported that they expected to be insolvent within 6 months
This is a concern, not least because I believe that everyone needs charities. From needing charity at a personal level because you're struggling, to needing them to because you want to give something back (I've been in both camps), charities are really important. I love what Ian is proactively doing to help a sector which has not always adopted tech and innovation easily - although there are some very exciting tech fundraising businesses out there.
The Charity Excellence Framework's Six Toolkits to help charity's to maximise impact, improve fundraising and save money
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE CHARITY EXCELLENCE FRAMEWORK AND THE COVID19 TOOLKIT HERE