Steve Ray and Claire Power-Browne
An article in Third Sector on 05 December gave me pause for thought . It talks about how nearly half of local authorities have made disproportionate cuts to the voluntary sector. What is particularly frustrating for charities/nfp’s in this position is that in September of last year the DCLG published best practice guidance on just this issue, advising that any cuts to be made should take account of overall value delivered by the voluntary sector
One can be almost certain that there will be many charities facing these cuts who are delivering essential front-line services that are delivering fantastic value for money in terms of outputs and outcomes, so there may be a different factor at play here; demonstration/perception of value. Unlike other sectors, it can be difficult to ‘prove’ that a charity is running efficiently when we are looking at service users and not profit margins. Looking online I found it difficult to find any kind of ‘kitemark’ or other way of identifying a charity that was either demonstrating or was being perceived to deliver value for money.
This month, the Charities Aid Foundation reported: “Fewer people are giving to charity and those that do are giving less, resulting in a £2.3bn real terms fall in total donations in the last year. Charities with incomes of less than £1m reported total combined deficits of £306m in 2011, compared with an overall surplus of £325m in the 2007 financial year.”
In 2010, Accountants Baker Tilly spoke about ‘managing charity finances through uncertain times’ and reducing costs. “A charity needs to assess whether its staff have the correct level of skills to carry out its activities. So whilst it is good news that charities are reviewing their cost base, the bad news is that 10% are making staff salary cuts and nearly a third are deferring projects.”
Chris Allison, Managing Director of Auditel, the UK’s leading independent Cost Management specialist, says: “At this difficult time, charities, like every other type of organisation, are looking to reduce their operating costs. But, in our experience, it is possible to retain valued personnel rather than having to rehire when things improve. Therefore, to accomplish this, charities need to take a really hard look at their business costs.
“However, we find it rare for a charity to have a full-time cost management specialist on their books. It’s a luxury that few can afford. The responsibility usually passes to other members of staff, many of whom do not possess the relevant experience and have more than enough duties already!”
Allison adds that as a result, some opt for what appears on paper to be the ‘cheapest’ suppliers. Adopting this purely headline cost-based model may seem logical, but it fails to take into account a wide variety of additional factors contributing to the overall situation. Thus, many organisations are spending far more than they need.
The Baxters Loch Ness Marathon & Festival of Running is a notable fixture on the running calendar. There are great marathons around the world, many of them particularly marked by their settings, and the Loch Ness ranks right alongside them.
The centuries-old legend of the Loch Ness Monster is a story that continues to run. Along with the scenic beauty of the area, it has been responsible for attracting visitors to this fascinating part of Scotland for many years. The opportunity to put such a memorable marathon on their record, one with such a unique story to tell, has proven too strong a pull for thousands of runners of all abilities.
Runners take on the challenge for many reasons: to raise money for good causes, to have fun and enjoy the fantastic setting, to experience the camaraderie, and to achieve their own personal goals. This year, the event took place on Sunday, 30th September.
The Chilterns 3 Peaks Challenge was back for its 4th year on 16th September and offered a fantastic day out on a 5, 9 or 18 mile route along the beautiful Chilterns Ridgeway, taking in Whiteleaf Cross, Coombe Hill and Ivinghoe Beacon.
This year, around 900 people took part in aid of Iain Rennie Grove House. The charity supports local families affected by life-limiting illness. Through a combination of 24/7 hospice at home care and day hospice care, patients of all ages can stay at home for as long as possible.
The event was sponsored by a networking group, Chiltern Business Connections, which is chaired by Buckinghamshire-based Auditel Cost Management Specialist Simon Eggleton. Simon and his family took part. He said: “We have been supporting Iain Rennie Grove House through our networking group for some time. It was a great opportunity to continue that encouragement. The whole event was an enjoyable family occasion – if a little extreme way to wear out the kids and dog!
“We raised a goodly amount – in excess of £1,000! Overall, the charity raised in the region of £65,000 – enough to provide nursing care to cancer patients for over 500 days”.
The Bupa Great North Run is the second largest half marathon – 13.1 miles – in the world, taking place annually each September. Participants run between Newcastle upon Tyne and South Shields. The run was devised by former Olympic 10,000 metre bronze medallist and BBC Sport commentator Brendan Foster.
The first Great North Run was staged on 28th June 1981, when 12,000 runners participated. By 2011, the number of participants had risen to 54,000. For the first year it was advertised as a local fun run; nearly thirty years on, it has become one of the biggest running events in the world, and the biggest in the UK.
Ilkley- based Auditel Cost Management Specialist Paul Wilkes, 24, decided to run this year on 16th September, aiming to raise £500 for Yorkshire Air Ambulance. Paul says: “I had no previous running experience when I entered. The first run I went on was 1.6miles and I was destroyed! However, I figured I’d get more donations if I did something I didn’t want to do, so I have been training since February to conquer the Great North Run. Anyone who has ever shared a football pitch with me will know that I used to struggle to run for thirteen minutes, let alone the thirteen miles from Newcastle to South Shields!
The Bupa Great North Run is firmly established as the world’s most popular half-marathon since it first took place on June 28, 1981. It’s a spectator lined course which covers 13.1 miles from Newcastle to the picturesque coastal finish in South Shields. Today it attracts some 50,000 competitors from all over the world.
Auditel Consultant Daryn Dodge took part this year on 16th September to raise money for the British Heart Foundation. Before the start, Daryn said: “I am not quite sure how I got here but here I am about to embark on a half-marathon! Actually I do know, as I chose to run for Diabetes UK in 2009, and seem to have become addicted to it. This year, the week of the Run coincides with the 10th anniversary of my brother’s death from a heart attack, so my friend Paul Dorrington and I are supporting the BHF this year.
“Although we have done the Great North Run before, Paul has had significant commitments working on the Olympics and has had a serious Achilles tendon injury that he has struggled to recover from. I have also had health issues and injuries which meant that we were both well behind in our training. Therefore getting to the finish line this year was always going to be more of a challenge than usual.”
Steve Ray and Claire Power-Browne
An article in today’s Guardian newspaper highlights a growing trend in charities of recruiting NEDs (Non Executive Directors) with commercial skills to help them negotiate their way through and ultimately, out of the current financial crisis.
Undoubtedly income generation through charity shops and social enterprise has revolutionised the way in which charities are able to increase their unrestricted income levels and engage with supporters; it’s not surprising then that charities are looking to increase alternative income streams at a time when funding cuts are starting to bite.
Some charities, however, recognise that they may not have the internal business acumen and resource to develop a strategy around income and costs and are therefore looking to NEDs to fill the knowledge gap.
Posted by: Ron Yellon
“No organisation, whether business or charity, will survive difficult economic times without those in charge seriously looking at their financial health, direction and whether they’re making the best use of resources”.
So said the Charities Commission in 2009 when it promoted its “Big Board talk initiative” – the conversation all charities need to have. This covered key areas where charities tell them they are most vulnerable and asked 15 questions to help trustee boards look at both the options and opportunities available to them to help inform their board and planning discussions.
Of course, it is a duty of the charity trustees to ensure that the charity’s resources are protected in order that the charity can fulfil its aims – trustees need to ensure that assets are properly used, that its funds are spent effectively and its financial affairs are well managed; but this is a more strategic and practical take than the guidance to duties set out in “Internal Financial Controls for Charities (CC8)”.
Leeds-based Auditel cost and purchase management consultant David Powell is going up in the world! A few days after his 35th birthday on September 17th, he is planning to trek to the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro – 19,341 ft above sea level. This is Africa’s highest peak and entails a climb from 5000 ft to nearly 2o, 000 ft in just six days.
David, who has never done much more than walk up and down Sheffield’s peaks as a student many years ago, will be in a party of 13 trekking for up to 10 hours a day for the children’s charity, Candlelighters. Each of the team has an individual target of £2500, with a hoped-for overall total of £50,000.
Candlelighter, also based in Leeds, was established in 1976. It is a charity formed and run by parents of children who have or have had cancer and the medical staff who treat them. The charity provides essential services and support to children with cancer and their families.
Kilimanjaro is sometimes seen as the ‘easiest’ of the seven continental peaks, because there is no technical climbing with ropes or crampons. However, it is still a great challenge and at the higher levels, the air carries only 30% of the normal oxygen content.
The Great British Bike Ride in 2011 will be staged from Land’s End to Twickenham Stadium in early July. This five-day ride is designed for all cycling enthusiasts, sportsmen and women who want to take on a real challenge and at the same time, raise some much-appreciated funds for highly deserving charities.
Team Auditel, consisting of six intrepid Auditel consultants plus their Recruitment Director, will be taking part in this year’s gruelling ride. All six team members will be cycling the 350 miles from Land’s End to Twickenham Stadium over 5 days and, hopefully, raising at least £10,000 for Auditel’s chosen charity, Help for Heroes. With an average of 70 miles to cover on each day of the ride, Team Auditel started training in October last year and the team has already covered thousands of miles. Any donation small or large will be much appreciated and a step closer to their target. Visit the Team Auditel – Just Giving page for more details .