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Cats Protection opens its 100th store in old bank building. 

Charity opens its 100th store

Cats Protection is celebrating its 100th store after transforming a former bank into a boutique-style charity shop. The UK’s largest cat charity opened the doors to its landmark store in Henleaze, Bristol, with an opening party. With a range of good quality second-hand clothes, toys, books and household items, the store will also stock a line in new cat-related merchandise.

All funds raised by the store will remain in the local area, enabling Cats Protection’s Bristol & District Branch to help more unwanted and abandoned cats. Cats Protection area retail manager Rhian Parry says: “We have already got one shop in Bristol, of which the community are very supportive, so we are delighted to have opened our 100th shop in such a cat-loving city."

Sexual health charity to close

MEDFASH (Medical Foundation for HIV and Sexual Health) has announced that it will close at the end of 2016. Cathy Hamlyn, chair of the charity’s board of trustees, explains: "Over recent years MEDFASH has continued to do valuable work in the field of sexual health and HIV but our income stream has become increasingly unpredictable and continued to decline. We believe that operating in this way is not sustainable. So, with great regret, the board has decided that the only responsible way forward is for the charity to undertake an orderly closure."

Says Hamlin: "I would like to pay special tribute to the staff, consultants, supporters and volunteers of MEDFASH over the years, and in particular our current chief executive. Ruth Lowbury has been a tremendous leader of the organisation, especially over recent years as ongoing funding has become increasingly difficult for the organisation to achieve."

Chief executive Ruth Lowbury says: "We are negotiating with other organisations to hand over our ongoing projects and publications so they can continue to provide the support necessary to our stakeholders. We would like to thank all those who have funded or collaborated with MEDFASH over the years, including the British Medical Association which first established and supported the charity."

Public favours cancer as a charitable cause

Cancer remains the favourite charitable cause for members of the public, according to a report, Facts and Figures 2016 - Favourite Causes, by research consultancy nfpSynergy. In fact, the top 5 favourite causes have remained the same since 2010. The proportion of people naming the armed forces as their favourite cause continues to rise. The 4 least favourite causes have remained the same as July 2015. Looking at ten year trends, homelessness and social welfare have increased in popularity, rising from 12% in 2007, to 16% in 2016.

According to the nfpSynergy report, these are the public's favourite charitable causes: cancer 48%, animals 34%, children and young people 29%, hospices 22%, health and medical (excluding cancer) 22%, UK armed forces 19%, homelessness and social welfare 16%, rescue services 16%, disability 15%, older people 15%, environment and conservation 14%, "I don't have any" 12%, overseas aid and development 11%, dementia 9%, religious/Christian/Church based 7%, sensory impairment 4%, other 3%, not sure 1%.

The data shows that young people are more likely to favour homelessness and social welfare causes than older generations. In addition, the data reveals that people from London are much more likely to support homelessness and social welfare causes than those in other areas of the UK.

The report reveals that older people are more likely to have a favourite charity as opposed to 16-24 year olds.

The nfpSynergy report also reveals that most causes are fairly equal in popularity amongst males and females, with two notable exceptions. Both male and females picked the same top three causes (cancer, animals and children and young people); however, the data reveals that men are slightly more likely to favour armed forces causes. 21% of men picked armed forces causes, as opposed to only 17% of women. In addition, women continue to be far more likely to favour animal charities than men (40% and 28% respectively).

Social grade and household income do not seem to have much of an effect on people’s choices of favourite charities, nor does political opinion. Over 65s are most likely to support older people’s charities

Different age groups tend to support different charities, with the biggest differences found between the youngest and oldest sections of society. Whilst cancer is the most popular cause across all age groups, 32% of 16-24 year olds picked children and young people as a favourite cause, whereas only 21% of over 65s chose this cause. In contrast, over 65s are more likely to favour causes that support people above the age of 16-24 (20% and 15% respectively).

Foundations' grants hit new high prior to uncertainty

Grant spending by the top 300 UK independent charitable foundations ranked by grant-making in in 2014/15 was at its highest actual level, £2.7 billion, finally beating the £2.5 billion spending level reached in 2008/09, before the reductions following the credit crunch. However, this still falls short of pre-recession spending in real terms. These figures come from Giving Trends 2016, produced by the Association of Charitable Foundations, in partnership with Cass Business School and supported by the Pears Foundation.

The report's authors (Cathy Pharoah, Richard Jenkins, Keiran Goddard and Catherine Walker) warn that this overall picture, which has seen foundations increasing their grant spending in recent years, masks an underlying "bumpiness" in their finances over the same period. For example, this robust increase in grant spending is not reflected in income trends, with income seeing a fall in 2015 on the back of a much lower growth rate in assets than in the previous two years.

However, the earlier hikes in asset growth undoubtedly contributed to the increase in grant spending in 2014/15. There were also fewer new large gifts into foundations, though the authors expect voluntary income to have spikes and drops because of the essentially individual nature of such giving.

In addition, the increase in overall grant-making was partly due to an unusually large £185 million increase in the giving of Wellcome Trust, but even after excluding Wellcome, there was still a healthy growth.

The authors say the dramatic swings revealed in the annual growth rates of voluntary income give a clear picture of the "spiky" nature of such new income. So, while this year’s drop is consistent with the longer term pattern in voluntary income, nonetheless in an environment of weak economic growth and potential global market uncertainties following the EU referendum, it could potentially herald the start of a downturn in the value of major new gifts.

The picture for asset growth over recent years has been healthy though uneven as investment markets generally continued to grow. In sum, with grant spending growing more steadily than income, these results suggest the helpfulness of the "total return" approach taken by some foundations, seeing them take advantage of capital growth as well as other forms of investment income to fund increases in grants spending at a time of need.

The report says that annual tracking of trends in spending and assets has continually shown a one-year time lag between increases or decreases in the value of assets and their effect on grant levels. The fall in asset growth in 2015 may well therefore result in lower grant spending in 2016. And looking further ahead, a combination of any sustained drop in voluntary income growth and any potential slowdown in investment performance may foreshadow a lower future spending environment.

Older and more affluent are charity shoppers

The UK is a nation of charity shop lovers with more than eight out of ten of people (86%) having bought an item from a charity shop, according to research by the Charities Aid Foundation. Older people, women and people living in more affluent areas are the most likely to have bought something from a charity shop. People living in rural areas are also more likely to have bought something from a charity shop than their urban counterparts.

The research reveals that those in the East of England are the biggest charity shoppers with Londoners being the least likely to have ever bought something.

The figures form part of a wide reaching report, Charity Street II, which examines the way people use charitable services and their awareness of the scope of charitable services. The figures show that nearly every household (98 %) in the UK has used a charity at some point and on average people have used about six charitable services in the past year.

However, the CAF report shows that awareness of which services are provided by charities is surprisingly poor. Around a quarter (23%) of the population are unaware that the charity services that they or someone in their household used were, in fact, run by charities. Given a list of 16 services provided by charities, less than one in ten people were aware they were all provided by the voluntary sector.

The biggest mistake governing bodies can make? Not operating strategically and getting bogged down in operational matters.

Charity Street II shows:

  • Charity shopping is more popular among those living in the UK’s most affluent areas, where 90% reported having ever bought an item compared to 82% of people living in the most deprived areas.
  • More than seven in ten people (71%) aged 65 or over bought something from a charity shop last year. This compares to 53% of 18-24 year olds, with people becoming more likely to buy from charity shops as they get older.
  • In rural areas 91% of people have ever bought something from a charity shop; in urban areas the figure in 84%.
  • 93% of people living in East England have bought something from a charity shop compared to 80% of Londoners.
  • Women buy things from charity shops more than men, with seven out of ten (70%) having bought an item in the past year, compared with just 54% of men.
  • The other most common ways people have used charity services are visiting a charity run gallery, museum, garden or stately home (69%); visiting a church or religious institution run by a charity (46%); getting advice or information from a charity website (45%); and attending a university (44%).

Susan Pinkney, head of research at the Charities Aid Foundation, says: “Gone are the days when there was a stigma attached to charity shopping with our figures showing that people in more affluent areas are on average more likely to be charity shoppers. But crucially, charity shops do not just rely on the shoppers. Their success is built on many different acts of altruism, from those who donate goods to the tens of thousands of volunteers who help to work to run them.

“Our research also highlighted how much we all rely on charities without necessarily realising it. A huge amount of British public life is supported by generosity. And a lot of us are unaware of the scope of charities in the UK.”

The UK has more than 10,200 charity shops and 85% of goods sold in charity shops are from donations, according to the Charity Retail Association.

VAT blow to charities construction works

UK charities seeking VAT relief on the construction of new buildings have been dealt a blow by a tax court, reports accountancy firm RSM. The Court of Appeal has determined that, it is not a charity’s objectives which will determine if it is afforded VAT reliefs, but whether fees paid by users fall within the scope of VAT.

Longridge on the Thames is a charity providing day and residential courses and activities related to water craft. Fees charged for this instruction, and the use of the facilities, were "subsidised" to the extent that costs incurred by Longridge were mitigated by the amount of grants and donations received, and by the work undertaken by unpaid volunteers.

To qualify for the VAT zero-rated construction of new training facilities, Longridge had to satisfy the Court of Appeal that the building would be used "otherwise than in the course or furtherance of a business".

RSM points out that the UK’s "business test" for VAT purposes dates back to the early 1980s case of Lord Fisher, and has been relied upon ever since by charities and the VAT courts alike to determine whether construction work could be afforded VAT relief.

Applying the "Fisher tests", the lower VAT courts found in favour of Longridge because, all other things considered, Longridge’s "predominant concern" was the furtherance of its charitable objectives. The Court of Appeal has stated however that the historic "Fisher tests" no longer reflect the jurisprudence of European VAT law, or the VAT decisions of the European Court.

David Wilson of RSM says the Court of Appeal is effectively stating that, in determining whether a charity’s activity falls within the scope of VAT, it is not the furtherance of a charity’s objectives that need to be assessed, but the activity generating the income.

Having determined that the subsidised fees paid to Longridge was a business activity falling with the scope of VAT, the charity was not afforded VAT relief in its construction of the new training facilities. As a result of this decision, Longridge now faces a VAT bill amounting to some £135,000.

Wilson observes that following the Brexit vote, there has been much speculation about whether the UK would still follow the jurisprudence of the European VAT law and the European VAT Court, or whether it would go its own way. However, he reflects, this decision, by a superior UK VAT court has now created a precedent in UK VAT case law, and can now be relied upon by HMRC and other VAT tribunals to deny charities VAT reliefs.

The Court of Appeal has determined that it is not a charity’s objectives which will determine if it is afforded VAT reliefs, but whether fees paid by users fall within the scope of VAT.

New charity sector effort required on legacy marketing

If significant real progress is ever to be made in charitable legacy income there have to be initiatives on several fronts by the charity sector, according to charity marketing guru Andrew Papworth in his newsletter, Harvest. He says more people need to make wills at all; they need to make them at earlier stages in their lives and they need to understand that wills are about more than simply distributing wealth. Then many more people need to want to include charities in their wills and they need to be encouraged to leave ever larger sums of money.

Papworth argues that judged against these objectives the sector in general, and individual campaigning charities, must be seen to have been less than successful. There is no convincing evidence – despite ever more complex relationships and family lives – that more wills are being written. Far from wills being written at younger ages, there is research support for the view that people are leaving it until ever later in middle age, or older, to write their wills. And too many people have wills which are no longer relevant.

Whilst there has been modest progress in getting charitable gifts included in wills, so long as only about 40% of adults have wills (and probably only about 30% of adults have up to date wills fitting their changed circumstances), it will remain a fact that as a proportion of all deaths wills with charitable bequests will remain pitifully small. When it comes to the value of charitable bequests very little has been done to raise the stakes.

Papworth believes too much emphasis has been placed on the small number of residuary bequests which, whilst they account for a huge share of total charitable bequests, are never going to be relevant to most legators’ needs or wishes. In contrast, very little effort has been put into suggesting higher values for the much more common pecuniary bequests or to link them to inflation.

Making a real difference to the volume and value of charitable wills is clearly beyond any single charity but without this all charities are going to be reduced to scrapping over grabbing bigger shares of a pot that is, at best, growing very, very slowly. It is going to be increasingly important in the coming years to increase total legacy income because of stricter direct marketing regulations on fundraising. It needs co-operative action but current activities are not necessarily the best way to achieve the objectives.

Comments Papworth: "Perhaps the ideal set up would be a co-funded organisation involving major charities and the Law Society because solicitors have much to gain by getting more people to make wills and to do so at younger ages. But you don’t get owt for nowt; it would need serious funding because it’s a big task.

"Whatever way you slice it, not enough progress has been made and not enough imagination has gone into achieving the necessary sea-change in charitable will-making. It requires a major sustained effort. If charities stopped wasting their money on ill-conceived legacy campaigns designed to grab a share of the existing pot and invested the money on enlarging the pot as a whole, they would eventually see the benefit.

"The right way to ensure that they get their share is via their databases – with supporters’ consent, of course – not by advertising. But the start point has to be facing up to the reality that we’ve been going down the wrong track for decades."

Charity leadership attributes at a time of disruption

A study by executive search firm Gatenby Sanderson highlights the leadership requirements for charities if they are to flourish in the face of a whole series of challenges - from digital disruption, social change and increased competition, to political challenges, funding and increased scrutiny. The aim of the study, Thriving in the age of disruption, is to help charities to identify key attributes of modern leaders and set them on a path to recruit, assess and develop appropriate leaders.

The 10 most valuable future leadership attributes identified by senior charity leaders are:

  1. Level-headedness – a capacity to overcome both ambiguity and disruption.
  2. Agility – the wherewithal to manage and allocate resources quickly and decisively.
  3. Self-awareness – the means to understand their impact on others.
  4. Vision – an ability to inspire others through a clear vision and strategy.
  5. Collaborative – an aptitude for partnership building and connecting others.
  6. Diligence – the commitment and skill to get to the heart of the matter.
  7. Authenticity – an unwavering commitment to their mission and their purpose.
  8. Resilience – a desire to persevere to the end regardless of obstacles.
  9. Humility – the ability to create a strong team ethic, while remaining assertive.
  10. Veracity – the commitment to stay true to themselves and their principles, particularly in the face of challenges.

Juliet Taylor, a partner and head of not for profit at Gatenby Sanderson, says: “It’s critical that charity boards seek leaders with the right attributes to lead in the modern age. In order to be successful, charity leaders must truly embrace disruption, adopt shorter horizons, and stay true to the organisational mission in order to achieve organisational objectives. Leaders who possess these key attributes, and indeed the ability to match ambitions with resources, can help take charities into a new chapter of success and explore the exciting opportunities which lie ahead.”

Leading charities propose new fundraising standards

Recommendations from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, developed with a group of leading charities, set out new standards that will let donors decide if and how they are contacted by the charities they give to.

Under the proposals, charities which buy data would only call people if they had specifically given their permission to be contacted by that named charity, not simply from agreeing to being "happy to receive marketing from selected third parties". Charities which call their donors or members of the public would also regularly ask them if they are happy to be contacted in the future.

Fundraising letters should only be sent where the charity has a positive reason to believe that the potential donor has an interest in hearing from charities or that they have an interest in the particular cause. They would always have an opportunity to opt out of future mailing.

NCVO believes such a move would significantly cut down on direct mail and unwanted calls and put members of the public back in control of who contacts them.

The proposals have been put forward by NCVO, with a charities including the British Red Cross, Shelter, Oxfam, Beating Bowel Cancer, and Battersea Dogs & Cats Home. The group was established to look into how charities can best meet the public’s expectations of them as well as navigate the complex and changing data regulation environment. The group believes its recommendations go above and beyond the legal minimum and would ensure that charities demonstrably work to higher standards.

Research carried out for the group shows that 7 in 10 donors think the amount of contact they get from the charities they support is "about right", but donors say their trust in charities would increase if they were given more control over whether and how they were contacted.

The proposals have been welcomed by the Fundraising Regulator, the new body set up to ensure fundraising is always carried out respectfully. The Regulator will now consider whether to incorporate them into its fundraising code, which charities must abide by. The code has already been strengthened significantly in recent months in order to address public concern.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of British Red Cross and chair of the group which developed the proposals, says: "I want people to know how seriously charities are taking this issue. We have come up with proposals that balance the needs of charities to get in contact with supporters and potential supporters with the public’s right to have control over how they are contacted. We heard from the public that they are most concerned about unwanted phone calls. These proposals would mean that charities would never phone members of the public."

Stephen Dunmore, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator, comments: "We welcome this report as a positive contribution that will help charities understand the requirement to secure proper consent from their donors as a key part of restoring public trust and confidence in fundraising. We will review the report and consider how we use it to prepare appropriate guidance for charities and in our development of the Code of Fundraising Practice."

These Lloyds Banking Group cyclists raised £246,696.11 for BBC Children in Need when they crossed the finish line of the Tour de Pudsey.

Huge sum raised by bank's cyclist fundraisers

Sixty colleagues from Lloyds Banking Group have completed the Tour de Pudsey challenge, and helped to raise £246,696.11 for the group’s charity of the year, BBC Children in Need. Three groups of 20 riders departed from London, Edinburgh and Cardiff and cycled over 300 miles in just three and a half days to arrive all together in the town of Pudsey in Yorkshire.

The finish line of Pudsey was chosen for two reasons: it is home to one of Lloyds Banking Group’s regional offices; and it is also the town after which BBC Children in Need’s iconic mascot was named, being the hometown of Pudsey’s designer. 

The riders were welcomed in Pudsey by TV presenter Gethin Jones who had cheered Team Cardiff on their way at the start of the challenge.

The 60 core riders were joined along the way by a further 50 colleagues who were "day cyclists". The 110 riders were supported on route by colleagues and customers as they passed a number of Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Bank of Scotland branches, group head offices, and projects that benefit from BBC Children in Need funding.

Volunteers and hospice staff in exhuberant mood after their garden makeover for children and their families.

Garden centre team transforms hospice garden

Volunteers from Birchencliffe, a Wyevale Garden Centre, have completed a garden makeover at the nearby Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice. The hospice was chosen by shoppers at the garden centre as the local cause they would love to see receive a garden makeover. Together with staff and volunteers from the hospice and a local handyman, the garden centre team transformed the garden from something overgrown and under-loved, into a bright and colourful haven for the families to enjoy and make memories in.

Together the team created an accessible garden combining a number of playful elements to excite all six senses. By introducing specially constructed raised beds, wheelchair users will be able to get involved with growing their own produce in one of six beds throughout the garden. The team also installed a giant bamboo xylophone in the garden, which alongside wind chimes brings the sounds of the garden to life.

To add visual interest to a few small mounds that already existed in the garden, the volunteers added numerous bright and colourful windmills that spin in the breeze, a cheerful feature that makes use of a previously neglected part of the garden.

Finally, to attract birds and bees, the team installed a bird box and feeders, a bee hotel and hibernaculum to complement the wildlife meadow that had been sown in the garden previously.

The Wheelyboat Trust continuing to offer mobility impaired people its facilities outside the UK - another mobility boat for its growing Danish fleet.

Further wheelchair accessible boat outside the UK

The Wheelyboat Trust, a small charity dedicated to providing mobility impaired people with access to waterborne activities both inside and outside the UK, has added another accessible boat to its fleet outside UK waters. Four Mk III Wheelyboats already operate in Denmark and now a new Coulam Wheelyboat V20 will enable visitors at Randers Naturcenter in Denmark to explore the River Gudenå Estuary.

The centre, an educational and recreational resource located in the town of Randers in Jutland, has seen a major upgrade to its facilities, including the building of a new harbour, boarding ramp and boathouse four years ago. The Naturcenter is surrounded by hundreds of acres of wetland with an abundance of birdlife, making it a supreme location for educational and recreational trips on the River Gudenå.

The new Coulam Wheelyboat V20 will join two Mk III Wheelyboats already in use at the centre since 2012. As the latest design of The Wheelyboat Trust’s seven boat models, the boat is designed for use on inland and inshore waters, powered by a 90hp motor outboard and can accommodate up to ten adults (eight on inshore waters), including six wheelchair users.

The design of the new Coulam V20 makes it much better suited for trips into the River Gudenå Estuary, thus broadening the exciting offer for the centre’s visitors.

Since the launch of the first Wheelyboat more than 30 years ago, the trust has mostly supplied boats to projects across the UK. However, its 176 Wheelyboats strong fleet also includes eight boats in the Republic of Ireland and five boats in Denmark, including the latest launch at Randers Naturcenter. The launches outside the UK and interest coming from other countries such as Lithuania make the Wheelyboat Trust possibly the only organisation of its kind in Europe.


APPOINTMENTS. WWF-UK has appointed Tanya Steele as its chief executive from 1 January 2017, joining the wildlife charity from being interim UK chief executive of Save the Children. The Children's Society has appointed international disputes mediation lawyer Janet LeGrand as its chair of trustees in succession to Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro; she is succeeded as vice chairman by Libby Lane, Bishop of Stockport.

FURTHER APPOINTMENTS. Armed services rehabilitation and resettlement charity Finchale has appointed Roger Guy as its first dedicated business development manager. Deaf health charity SignHealth has appointed James Watson-O'Neill as chief executive; he was director of services at disability charity Scope. The British Asian Trust has appointed Aparajita Agrawal as its first India director; she joins from global development advisory firm Intellecap.


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