Measuring the quality of your committee?

We were recently at a Social Enterprise business advisors meeting in The Midlands. We were fortunate to have a presentation from The Guild, a Norwich based social business/community advice organisation.

The booklet beng discussed was Social Impact Measurement. An often complex piece of work to determine what the outcomes of your organisation are in terms of the beneficial impact you have on the community.

However, part of the booklet was an analysis of ‘quality measurers’. Schemes of analysis or reflection which groups can use in committee and with their supporters to determine how good their governance is, or how the delivery of their work matches against expected recognised standards.

Yes, there are some very expensive and time consuming examples in the booklet, but there are also some very cost effective and elegantly simple ones too. Helping committees or boards of governance determine their strengths, weaknesses and the need for change, if any.

You can download the booklet here.

AT SEC we have experts on governance, committee support and enterprise/social organisation management. Our support is free. If we can help you with a ‘quality project’ for your group or committee just ASK SEC! 

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Poverty reporting: The Smith Institute

poorLawWelfarePic-mThe independent think tank The Smith Institute have recently published a new report on poverty in society.

The organisation, dedicated to the fairer society, tracks in the document a century of welfare reform, social initiatives and government policy on poverty and inequality.

The report suggests a number of measures that could be developed to combat the ever widening economic gap. The Institute sees these new interventions as being aimed at, what it calls the ‘pre-distribution’ agenda.

Essentially a refreshing of older ideas on tax levels, workplace structures and, importantly, mantaining pressure on the development of skills as basis for social and economic change.

The report stresses how important the role of civil society organisations can be, especially where they interact with skills development projects and the general labour market.

Community charities can have a strong role to play at the local grassroots level in this framework of ideas.

You can download, view or print the full report here. (.pdf file/ 2.8Mb)

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secBEANS bookshop now online

booksandbusinessPicThe secBEANS network have just published the pages of their online bookshop – beansBOOKS.

This is a great resource for getting information, ideas and seeing how others run their enterprise ideas. Every purchase you make from the bookshop sends a small amount to support SEC as a community charity too.

Have a look at the beansBOOKS pages. There are sections for the female entrepreneur, marketing and social media for all sorts of enterprises, as well as a section on how social business can change communities.

Buy with confidence from a book distributor you can trust – Amazon, and help your local community charity SEC…and get your enterprise idea in gear too!

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Getting to grips with your cash?

graphPic4Community Accountancy Self Help is a Lottery funded charity which works to develop best practice and good management for community groups and small charities.

They are based in London, but thanks to the power of the ‘inter-web thing’ you can read and review their very useful Cash Facts information sheets online.

Covering everything from having a policy about reserves for your organisation, basic book-keeping, risk and quality systems, as well as finance reporting to your governing body.

The Cash Facts page is a great resource for small community organisations. You can read more here.

Alongside the Cash Facts documents is a Cash Words page  – full of useful explanations for those new terms you come across when growing your community finances. A real jargon-buster.

(If you do use these fact sheets to improve or train members of your organisation – honour the copyright request from CASH and drop them an email to let them know…) 

We liked the pages! A great online resource for your Treasurer.

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Formalising your group – for free

The SEC team are always on hand to offer their expertise in helping create good governance practices for community groups or associations, whatever their location. The web resource at oneclickorgs.com enables you to do it online and for free.

With everybody having busy lives, working and living in different locations, Oneclickorgs.com offers a great way to formally constitute a new or existing group.

Once formed online, members then have ready access to the web details of the constitution and a means to vote remotely via their computers or mobile devices. This short film shows you how…

We think the online voting processes of Oneclickorgs.com offer community groups a great way to reduce time and energy on administration and meetings, improving democratic decision making in associations – with a record of decision making clearly available for members to track.

A formal constitution allows community groups to own property, have bank accounts and can be the start of more formal processes to become companies limited by guarantee or even, eventually community charities in their own right.

(We see from the Oneclickorgs.com web pages they have recently been awarded a grant by UnLtd to develop a company by limited by guarantee online creation tool).

Even online so simply, the language of choosing options for governance may not be a natural technique for everyone – Ask SEC, we’re happy to help for free if we can.

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Beans are about!

beansTogetherPicWe have just posted the web pages for beans – the new enterprise support network we will work hard to keep active in the Marham community.

beans is intended to be a useful resource for those residents who have started, or are thinking of starting, a new enterprise in our rural community.

If you would like to volunteer to help us organise our network meetings, or contribute to our resources list – or write articles for our web site or secBLOG – you can subscribe with your email address here.

We’ll let you know when our network meetings take place and occasionally send you updates and news from the beans team.

You can subscribe to the beansBLOG for free updates too. You can see articles on new start-ups, paying your tax and why ethical enterprise is such a good contributor to community health.

We are also establishing a beansDIRECTORY, where you can advertise your business to others. In the future, we will publish the directory in other formats and places, thereby spreading the word about Marham enterprise.

See you at our next network meeting?

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Christmas Fair – cold outside, warm welcome within

As we were unpacking our bits and pieces for the stalls at the Marham Christmas Fair the temperature only rose above zero very grudgingly.

The Marham Infant School, Mrs. Webb, the Head and her team offered everyone a great, warm welcome and a wonderful space to hold the event. Smiles all round. In the end the sun shone, Santa arrived and the ice-rink was fully booked all day.

There was a great range of goods on offer, from jewelry, fabrics, children’s books, handbags and a myriad supply of other seasonal items. The raffle table was groaning with donated prizes and tickets sold briskly from their vantage point near the entrance.

The young people of the airplay team served up fantastic pork rolls, with all the seasonal trimmings. They also played some very lively, contemporary music in the ‘jammin’ space too.

The school tea and coffee crew worked flat out all day – with everyone very appreciative of a hot drink on such a cold day.

By the time darkness fell some 250 people had strapped on their skates and glided, slithered and tumbled around the ice rink. Thank you to everyone who booked their sessions and contributed to SEC.

A special thank you to Lloyd and Charlotte for braving the cold all day rink-side and for their energy in organising such a popular attraction.

Roll on the Summer Fair…I wonder if we could get surfing into the playground?

Image: Anonymised picture of skaters at the Christmas Fair 
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See those beans grow!

fairPic2011The recent Christmas Fair was evidence that there are already a number of community enterprises – creative small businesses offering goods and services to the Marham community.

Part of SEC’s remit as a community charity is to foster ethical enterprise. Helping support people’s creativity and populate a local economy with new energy.

Maybe you have an idea, but are unsure about how to start, not clear about what to do to turn your creativity into a structured business?

Beans (our new idea name so far, although together we might change it) can be an informal network of like minded people in the Marham community, coming together to share their thoughts on what to do, marketing, money or anything else that helps support you.

What to do first? We need a volunteer, or volunteers, to help co-ordinate the group.

SEC can offer a no-cost platform for the activity, providing web pages, formal business advice, networking experience and professional support across a variety of creative themes. We’ll find a place to meet regularly, in a non-judgemental and supportive atmosphere, where you can talk to others about your ideas or problems.

If the community picks up the idea of a LETS scheme for the area, you could use the new alternative currency to dip your toe into the market place, with no risk.

We could start an online directory of beans members, featuring your goods or services – provide you with a web site if you don’t have one yet, help you think about counting your own beans (keeping the books really).

Practical, grounded advice – whether your aim is to make one cake or one hundred, to create and craft one piece of jewelry or a thousand – helping to get your idea started at just the level you want and no more.

If you would like to help use our contact us page on the SEC main web site and let us know. We’ll be in touch.

Image: Ready for customers at the Marham Christmas Fair

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The GrandParent factor

grandparentsPicSome of out team were at a conference recently, listening to a very lively speaker from The Grandparents Association.

This UK charity specifically supports the older members of family groups and their concerns, offering information and advice across a number of themes – childcare, finance and benefits and the role of the grandparent in general.

This set us thinking about the work of grandparents and the care of children, in even the most well organised and supported communities.

In these days of community outreach by many organisations, SureStart, the local authority and welfare support in general – the grandparent can often, as a group in society, still provide front line care for young children, advice to younger parents and siblings – as well as coping with their own pressures around housing, health and finance.

We really like the web site for the Grandparents Association and you can find more information and support from it here.

Next time you see them, thank the grandparents – they do a lot we know – why not get them a membership subscription for Christmas too?

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