Research & Reports Round-up: VAT, Safeguarding Report, Barriers to Top Jobs, Charitable Business Plans, Engagement, Payment by Results and Sustainable Volunteering

Updated direct mail VAT guidance published

Updated guidance on VAT on direct mail has now been published by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The Charity Tax Group says that this will ‘provide certainty and clarity for charities’ following HMRC’s change of view on the issue.

How safe are our children?

NSPCC has published a report that compiles and analyses the most robust and up-to-date child protection data that exists across the UK. The report sets out 20 different indicators and each one looks at ‘how safe are our children?’ from a different perspective.

Study into non-educational barriers to top jobs published

The Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission has published research on ‘Non educational barriers to the elite profession evaluation‘ showing that working-class applicants struggle to get access to top jobs in the UK. The research is the product of extensive interviews with staff from 13 elite law, accountancy and financial services firms, who together are responsible for 45,000 of the best jobs in the country.

How to eliminate weak spots in a charitable business plan

Carolyn Sims, head of banking at Charity Bank, has written a blog that describes six ways to help a charity plan for the future.

Engaging people with lived experience of severe and multiple disadvantage

Shaping Our Lives and User Voice have produced a report, ‘Engaging people with lived experience of severe and multiple disadvantage’.

Payment by Results

A new report by the National Audit Office says that, without a common source of shared expertise and a strong evidence base, Payment by Results schemes may be poorly designed and implemented, and commissioners are in danger of ‘reinventing the wheel’ for each new scheme.

Society is changing in ways that have specific consequences for volunteering

An article written by Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, explains why charities need to respond to changes in society to ensure that volunteering is sustainable.

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News Round-up: Select Committees, Civil Society Debate, State of the Sector Survey, Better Opportunities Fund

Winning candidates for select committees announced

Nominations for chairs of the 26 elected select committees and the chair of the Backbench Business Committee closed on 10 June and elections were held by secret ballot on 17 June. Clive Betts has been elected as chair of the Communities and Local Government Committee. Full list is here.

House of Lords debates civil society

Members of the House of Lords have debated the role of civil society following the publishing of a Church of England pastoral letter ‘who is my neighbour?’. The Lords discussed decreased voting levels, political apathy and increases in loneliness within society.

State of the sector surveyClinks

Clinks is asking for organisations that work with criminal offenders and/or in criminal justice to participate in a survey. The survey is open to voluntary sector organisations and hopes to gather information on the current state of the sector and how it impacts voluntary organisations and the criminal offenders it works with.

Building Better Opportunities fund 

The Big Lottery Fund opened applications for a regional £15 million fund to tackle social exclusion and long term unemployment. The funding is part of BIG’s Building Better Opportunities fund.

 (Stories via NAVCA)

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Research and Reports Round Up: Health Commission, Innovation, Confessions, Happiness & Fraud

Health commission: an engagement approach

ACEVO and Clinks have produced a briefing on opportunities for the voluntary sector to be more involved in the delivery of healthcare services to people in contact with the Criminal Justice System.

Insights on innovation

Action Aid UK and New Philanthropy Capital have worked with a range of organisations to produce ‘Insights on innovation: lessons for the non-profit sector’. This report aims to inform policy and practice in the not-for-profit sector by bringing together a range of perspectives and highlighting best practice.

‘My bad experience as a charity chief made me a better trustee’

The Guardian’s blog series ‘Confessions of a charity professional‘ continues with a trustee detailing their experience as a chief officer with an “interfering, ignorant board” and a call for an improvement in charity governance.

How working for charity can make you happier

New research shows that giving makes you happier, but is this also true for those working at charities? Matthew Jenkin investigates. Nesta has conducted research which uses social media data from Twitter to develop a methodology for understanding the effects of events and conferences.

Ten points about preventing charity fraud

There is a lot of fraud in charities so don’t imagine your charity is immune – it isn’t. You can reduce the risk of fraud, but you cannot eliminate it. Here are some top tips to preventing fraud in your charity.

(via NAVCA)

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News Round Up: Volunteers, Contracts, Newspapers, Protests and Young People

Image via MK WebVolunteers are fantastic – not the cheap option

Oonagh Aitken, chief executive of Volunteering Matters says ‘awarding public sector contracts to volunteering groups is all well and good, but it needs to be properly thought through – and costed‘.

Government can’t ask charities to compete for contracts while savaging council spending

In her blog, Kathy Evans, chief executive of Children England states that the government cannot tell charities they must compete for contracts in a market while slashing the spending power of the only paying customers, local authorities.

‘Newspapers don’t want good news stories about charities’

Two veteran newspaper journalists told an audience of charity leaders that positive stories about the sector are unlikely to attract the attention of editors.

What gets communities off the couch and on to the street to protest?

Civic mobilisation has piqued academic interest over recent decades. Among the many explanations to emerge, three themes echo loudly through the literature: grievance, efficacy and social embeddedness.

Charities ‘do not live up to young employees’ expectations

Many charities do not live up to graduate employees’ expectations, do not make the most of talented young people, and are too tolerant of bad management, a charity recruitment specialist told an NCVO conference this week.

(via NAVCA)

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Ramadan: Safer Giving

Ramadan is a time of very generous charitable giving. People have a right to feel confident that their generosity is not abused and that their donations are being used for legitimate charitable purposes.

As part of its campaign #changethepicture the Charity Commission has produced a video for Ramadan encouraging people to check before they give. It illustrates how people can help make sure their generosity makes a real difference to those in need by giving to legitimate, registered charities.

Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Commission said:

Ramadan is very much a time for giving, but unfortunately there are individuals prepared to exploit this. We want to ensure that the generous donations made by people from Muslim communities end up supporting the deserving causes for which they were intended. The commission is committed to ensuring that trust and confidence in charities remains high, so we would encourage the public to follow our simple tips before making donations.

Dr Hany El-Banna, Chairman of the Muslim Charities Forum said:

Every Ramadan, Muslims give generously to many causes in the UK and abroad. It is important that these donations do go to registered and accountable charities. I would encourage people to share the commission’s video and follow their safer giving advice to ensure that donations go to the right place.

Top ten tips from the commission to make sure you give safely this Ramadan:
  1. Before giving, check the charity’s name and registration number against the online charity search tool: Find a charity – register of charities
  2. Fundraisers require a licence from the local authority (or the Police in London) to collect in a public place. Check that they have this. If the collection is in a privately owned place, check that they have the owner’s permission.
  3. When approached by collectors, check whether they are wearing a proper ID badge and that any collection tin is sealed.
  4. If in doubt, ask the collector for more information – a genuine fundraiser should be happy to answer questions and explain more about the work of the charity.
  5. Genuine fundraising materials should feature the charity’s name, registered name and a landline contact number. Be wary of those that list only a mobile number.
  6. Make sure when you give to radio and television appeals that the process is secure. Ofcom lists the rules for radio and television charity appeals on its website: Licensing – Ofcom website.
  7. Take care when responding to emails or clicking links to a charity’s website to ensure that they are genuine. Instead, search online for your chosen charity to check you have the right web address. For further guidance see: Guidance for donors – Get Safe Online.
  8. Carefully review collection bags for clothing and household goods to ascertain whether they are from a genuine charity.
  9. After making these checks, if you think that a collection or appeal is not legitimate, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and inform the Charity Commission: Action Fraud – Police.
  10. Don’t be pressurised to give to a collection immediately. If in any doubt, donate directly to charity.

Story via The Charity Commision

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Walking along link road - the new balancing pond is on the left

CA:MK Growth Team Explore the Western Expansion Area (WEA)

Our Growth Team – Hannah and Josan – enjoyed a great tour of part of the Western Expansion Area (WEA) – one of MK’s newest developments. The WEA runs along the V4 from Stony Stratford to Crownhill. Once complete the site will include 6500 new homes, 4 primary and 1 secondary schools, community buildings and local centres.

James Mooney from Gallaghers, one of the organisations involved in developing the site, showed us the area closest to Crownhill (called ‘Whitehouse’ or ‘Area 10). There are already some roads in place, as well as a beautiful balancing pond which will make a lovely green space for residents to enjoy.

We only explored a relatively small area of the site but what struck both Josan and I was the scale of the new development and how quickly things are happening on site! Although no buildings are up, you can really start to get a feel for where things will go, and the sheer size of task ahead!

We hope to run some walking tours for local residents and voluntary groups to find out more about the WEA. If you would be interested please get in touch.

We are also planning a public exhibition about the WEA on 8th October at the Kiln Farm Club. This will give residents the chance to hear more on the plans for the site and have your questions answered. More details to follow……

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