Getting information about charities…

Reporting on new developmentsThe Charity Commission has recently extended the range of information available to charities seek out and review additional or extended support for trustees and charitable organisations.

The Commission has created new web pages offer access to a variety of ‘lists’ of information sources using the key words ‘umbrella bodies’, ‘capacity building’ and ‘other support bodies’. Ideal for existing trustees, or those who are thinking of taking the plunge.

The charity bulletin boards are often critical of the Commission in its understanding of the needs of charities, particularly small charities, or those operating in particularly specialist or challenging areas.

On reflection, at the start of the New Year, the Commission has done a very reasonable job in expanding its offer trustees, particularly in the last five years.

If you trawl the Internet Archive, Way Back Machine even only to 2008 – you can see that although the basic structure of the site remains remarkably similar, the diversity and richness of content available at the start of 2013 is very significant indeed.

The Sandringham Enterprise team are always happy to freely offer advice and information to community groups, small charities and organisations seeking to become social businesses. Just ask us here.

Happy New Year and good luck with your charity research project in 2013.

We are now a charity!

rainbowPicAfter working closely with the Charity Commission our board has now achieved charitable status for the Sandringham Enterprise Centre (SEC).

This important development means that we can begin the work of raising money to develop services in our Centre, to work with individuals and groups to raise funds for their projects and develop a sustainable social enterprise model for delivery of the work of the Centre.

Our objects as a charity are given below…

To further or benefit the residents of Marham and the
neighbourhood, without distinction of sex, sexual orientation,
race or of political, religious or other opinions by associating
together the said residents and the local authorities, voluntary
and other organisations in a common effort to advance
education and to provide facilities in the interests of social
welfare for recreation leisure time occupation with the
objective of improving the conditions of life for the residents.

In furtherance of these objects but not otherwise, the trustees
shall have power:

To establish or secure the establishment of a community
centre and to maintain or manage or co-operate with any
statutory authority in the maintenance and management of
such a centre for activities promoted by the charity in
furtherance of the above objects.

What does all this mean?

As volunteers, using our energy and commitment, this means that we will work together to develop our Centre, bringing forward new things, but keeping and supporting existing groups and services too.

As your local charity – supporting each other in difficult times and creating as many broad smiles as possible whenever we can.

Leading through change
– a charitable view

changePic88At a recent Action Planning Conference – Leading Your Charity Through a Time of Change – Dame Suzi Leather, Chair of the Charity Commission, urged open-ness and sound leadership on board members.

Dame Suzi explained that some UK charities were often reticent to share their financial and operational details with their community of interest.

In reality, Dame Suzi said, a community of interest will never fully understand the mission of a charity, without the will of trustees to publish their financial and delivery information as widely as possible.

Charitable work should not be a mystery to the beneficiaries. The Chair of the Commission likened charity trusteeship to a job like airline pilot…

…99% of the time, the job of a trustee, like that of a pilot, is perhaps not especially exciting. In fact, being a trustee can be a relatively calm, rewarding affair, which involves direction, support, stewardship, monitoring, and keeping a steady course.

But then theres the 1 in a 100 event or crisis. When the systems fail or when something – internally or externally – goes unexpectedly wrong, and trustees, like airline pilots faced with the threat of an accident, are required to take active control.

It was clear from the speech that some charities find it difficult to share their financial data. Many trustees are uncomfortable with this aspect of their work. However, care of young people, the aged or delivery of specialist community social enterprises can only be undertaken after the engagement, often, of professional support – which does have a cost on the balance sheet.

Interestingly in these times of urging for the creation of social enterprises – from this clarity of mission for charities emerges the truth that only a charity has so much care at the heart of its service delivery, in a way that no private company working for individual profit can.

You can read the full text of the speech by Dame Suzi Leather on the Charity Commission web site here.

What is a Trustee?

trusteeWeekPic2011The Charity Commission have just launched details of Trustee Week for 2011 (31st October to 6th November 2011).

Who are they, what do they do…can I become one? The week is designed to raise awareness of trusteeship. As a charity beneficiary or partner organisation you are encouraged, supported and considered by charity trustees.

Trustees’ Week 2011 will celebrate the fantastic work of existing trustees and aim to increase awareness and understanding of the trustee role. Part of the campaign will encourage existing trustees to send photos and video clips of themselves and their boards to be posted on the Trustees’ Week website saying why they became a trustee and what they enjoy about it.

There are over 180,000 charities in England and Wales, with over 850,000 people acting as trustees.

They represent an enormous social resource, working for the benefit of others, for the public benefit.

Interestingly, the average age of trustees is 57 years, with only 0.5% of all trustees aged between 18 and 24.

Come on boards of governance, if you have a vacancy why not recruit someone under thirty? Energy, skills and commitment carry no age barrier in the charitable sector!

Visit the Trustee Week web site and get answers to your questions here.

Source data from the Charity Commission: