SEC AGM 2013

We are planing to hold our next AGM on WednesballoonsPic3day, May 15th at Swaffham Community Centre.

You can find the Centre just past the library on The Camping Ground, Swaffham, PE37 7RB. The cafe will be open for great refreshments served by the Iceni Partnership staff.

From 2.00pm to 5.00pm we are featuring displays of our current projects, including Marham Voices, our Heritage Lottery funded oral history activity. You can also talk to us about the start of our new project, Enterprise Arts, designed to deliver a new gallery and arts space, teaching space and community ICT service from a new building in the town.

We would be delighted to see anyone who wished to volunteer to support our projects, or who might be happy to consider joining the SEC board. Our AGM formally starts at 5.00pm on the 15th.

You can find detaiils of all our activities on our home page here.

Check our Marham Voices here.

We are planning to run a community bus service betweeen Marham and Swaffham on the day, to make our event easier to get to from the village. Watch this space for further details…

Listening Post – a new blog

listeningPic445We are delighted to have just completed the first draft of our new blog for the Marham Voices project.

Listening Post – which you can visit here, will track the development of our Marham Voices project and allow you, as always to freely subscribe to our news and project updates.

We are, as part of the project, beginning to create an online audio archive, YouTube channel and FaceBook pages. All of these developments and their content will be freely available on our blog – Listening Post.

If you would like to know more about the Marham Voices project, to either volunteer to help or to donate your story to the archive, you can read more about the project here at www.marhamvoices.org

Visit the blog, keep up to date and let us know if you have a story to tell, we’ll be happy to listen. Thank you.

Open Learning – online education

learningPic555We are quietly persevering with the coding of our secLEARNING web pages, which when we release them, will offer a range of information and advice about learning in West Norfolk in all its shades and colours.

As we labour in the background the world of open online learning proceeds to change and develop – with some astounding free learning opportunities available for everyone.

Limited only by your imagination, the websites below offer you access to the thinking and training opportunities of some great institutions. If a member of our community wants to study art, robotics, electronics or just brush up on Microsoft Office Suite skills then you can find an opportunity to learn here…

Coursera.org

The pages of this web site offer a collection of supported web learning that we think is frankly outstanding. Although heavily U.S. biased, the subjects and their content on offer provide a first class education, without the need to travel.

Alison.com

This Irish based initiative is more skills and training based – offering access to online courses and information that are designed to help those who subscribe to increase their employability.

Set the imagination free – sign up for a course and see how it works for you.

You can use our contact us page to tell us about your experiences. We’d love to hear about them.

Power Search with Google

magnifyingLensPic

A community course of six, fifty minute lessons is being offered by Google online in July 2012. You can register from June 26th to July 16th.

See more here…

Freely accessible after registration, your group can improve its Google search skills by undertaking the free courses, with your certificate arriving by email when you have completed the course.

Finding information on the internet is a key skill for a community organisation these days, whether looking for informaton about funding, local charities or local history, for example.

These tutorials, complete with interactive examples to work with, can help you become a power searcher. Get more from the web for your community.

You can find the Google power searching tutorial access page here.

The SEC home page of our main website is here.

Big Society capital launches…

bscLOGO2A new investor in the social sector has just launched – Big Society Capital. “We enable organisations tackling social issues to grow by encouraging investments made for social as well as financial return”.

As a body the organisation is purposed with only lending capital to social investment finance intermediaries (SIFI’s). This is a range of UK organisations who offer social investment to, and seek ethical and financial returns from, frontline Thirdsector organisations.

The Big Society Capital organisation will invest a minimum of £500,000 and a maximum of £15 million, dedicating their funding across a broad aspect portfolio of projects.

There is no doubt that, if this is new money, then intermediary organisations who seek to lend to and develop infrastructure projects with the Third Sector now have an exciting new source of funds to deploy. If theIr applications and business plans are rigorous enough.

For smaller charities and social enterprises one interesting aspect of the Big Society Capital web site, although excluded from BSC funding, is that smaller organisations can access a database of advice, guidance and finance providers to the sector.

This resource can be searched whether looking for grants, business advice or investment. You can find the BSC database here. A really useful, one stop tool we think for smaller charities or social organisations.

Free to use too.

Charity, business and community

networkDiagramPic34‘Businesses should act as ‘community hubs’, helping promote social interaction amongst their customers and developing local action plans to create happier, more resilient communities’.

This is a quote from a new report from the RSA, The Community Footprint: Shared Value for Business and Communities, outlining how local business, social business, can become hubs or focal points for community interaction and development.

Charities and social enterprises in particular, can have a role to play in this ‘combination’ role. A community charity, like SEC, can provide a focus, a tunnelling of ideas to engage community business in this sort of network activity, particularly in a remote rural area.

A charity could, for example, through its social enterprise network or community development activity co-ordinate and contribute to the strategies and focus of ethical business support to that community.
Helping businesses to answer the ‘how can we help’ question?

You can see the RSA report here…

The Community Footprint: shared value for business and communities

The RSA report looks at a a case study of a B & Q store and how it’s instore activity and engagement with customers and staff, were able to affect and effect change in community projects.

Big business, with financial and operational clout, can clearly be players in this role – but we would argue that there is a place for small, local economic groups and networks to use the same model – generating change using their very specific local knowledge too.

Our secBEANS network can fill this role too – acting as a focus point for community enterprise and using the charitable aims of SEC to make a strong community impression – adding new value to community projects.

Food for thought?

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! 

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!

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.

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.