RICHARD BLAUSTEN, editor of CHARITIES MANAGEMENT, writes: The news material below is just a selection of items to give readers a broad feel of what is going on in the charity world with an emphasis that is not necessarily seen in other charity publications. Thus we highlight corporate involvement with charities, particularly the fundraising efforts of staff, and we run management-related items that we feel deserve particular attention.
Do have a great read of the whole NEWS section.
How investment returns can facilitate more spending
Investment advisers to charities are failing to match charity spending aspirations to investment returns, according to a study conducted by investment company SEI. Analysis of the largest UK charities’ annual reports revealed that 53% share common investment targets, with 62% of these charities underspending on charitable activity compared to their listed asset growth over a five-year period.
More than half of respondents share common investment targets, namely asset growth of RPI or CPI, and have a charitable spending target of 3-4%. On average, spending growth for the group trailed the growth of income-producing listed assets by 44%. SEI says this finding implies that if spending growth had moved at the same pace as asset growth over a five-year period, an additional £1.65 billion could have been made available for charitable spending.
At the same time, the study points out that charities are not focusing enough on improving investment returns to meet financial challenges. It observes that “whilst many organisations said that ‘new technologies and more diverse ways of giving were being used to overcome challenges and reach goals’, finding ways to link spending and endowment growth optimally did not feature as a possible solution.”
SEI’s research also reveals that a minority (38%) of charitable endowments had overspent against their asset growth, demonstrating in this case there is still a need for investment advice to be aligned with each charity’s specific income and spending requirements.
Sleepwalking into risk management crisis
One in ten small charities (with an annual income of less than £500,000) “don’t have” or “aren’t sure” whether they have any risk management measures in place to ensure they achieve their objectives and safeguard their funds and assets. The majority (87%) only have one measure in place, leaving them ill-prepared to deal with risk and governance issues, according to a report Under the radar: risk management in small charities, commissioned by insurance broker PolicyBee from the Suffolk Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Suffolk.
POOR ABILITY TO ASSESS AND MANAGER RISK. Almost half (47%) of small charities are only partially confident in their capacity to identify and assess risk. And more than half (54%) feel less than fully confident when it comes to their ability to manage risk. These figures show a significant proportion are concerned that their charity may be unable both to recognise a risk in the first place and deal with it, should problems arise.
MAJOR BARRIERS. 64% of respondents from small charities cited a lack of time, followed by a lack of funds (52%) as the major barriers to putting risk management measures in place. Lack of expertise was also highlighted by 39%.
Six out of ten (62%) had never received risk and governance training - the biggest hurdles being lack of funding (57%), lack of time (50%) and not knowing where to access training (45%).
PolicyBee’s Dominique Fell-Clark, who is also founder of the Women & Girls Fund, funding small charities in Suffolk, says: “At a time when the charity sector as a whole is under increasing scrutiny, the lack of funding and resources among small charities is leading to shortfalls in risk management. This puts many in danger of sleepwalking into a governance and compliance crisis.
“The requirement for good governance applies equally to charities of all sizes but external advice can be difficult to access for small charities. Some don't know where to go, or that advice is even available. And some don't have the confidence to engage. While some small charities may be fortunate enough to have experienced trustees, many will not, leaving them poorly equipped to identify and deploy the measures required to protect both the individuals within an organisation and the organisation itself.”
MOST PRESSING RISKS IN NEXT 12 MONTHS. Risk to funding is the outright biggest concern for small charities in the next 12 months whether that be external funding, including grants (70%) or their capacity to generate income streams (74%). The next most pressing risks are their ability to recruit trustees and staff (62%) and then managing the risks associated with them.
FEW RISK MANAGEMENT REGISTERS. Only 8% of small charities have a risk management register in place and while a risk management statement is only a statutory requirement when annual income is above £1 million in England and Wales (£500,000 in Scotland and Northern Ireland), PolicyBee points out that the Charity Commission encourages all charities to adopt a statement, as a matter of good practice:
OPERATIONAL AND COMPLIANCE RISKS. PolicyBee points out that risk should be categorised by charities in two ways - the likelihood of an event occuring and the severity of its potential impact. Specific examples of poorly managed general risks include a lack of dual signatories on cheques; unidentified or poorly handled conflicts of interest; and lack of induction training for trustees on their legal responsibilities, all of which could seriously affect a charity’s reputation and jeopardise public trust.
UNFAMILIARITY WITH SOURCES OF ADVICE. While risk and governance advice is readily available from a number of sources that support charities, the research shows that many small charities are not familiar with the organisations that provide it. 60% are not very familiar with seven of the main regulatory bodies and umbrella organisations that support charities in the UK.
Interestingly, nearly a third had never contacted their local community foundation - these being a major source of grant giving and support at a time when many charities are struggling in the face of dwindling funding.
Dr Olumide Adisa, principal investigator at the Suffolk Institute for Social & Economic Research, says: “Many smaller charities are more likely to view risk management measures as a drain on resources. Indeed, this research has confirmed our suspicions that lack of funding and resources limit the ability of small charities to put suitable risk management measures in place, demonstrating an urgent need to shore up support around risk management for these organisations.”
Charities increasingly under cyber attack
UK charities have faced an average of five cyber attacks in the past 12 months, according to research highlighting the growing threat of cyber criminals to the sector. More than one quarter (26%) of charities surveyed have been the victim of at least one cyber attack during the past year, with 80% being attacked between four and 10 times in that period.
The research was commissioned by online encryption specialists Appstractor Corporation and compiled by Sapio Research. Says Paul Rosenthal, CEO and founder of Appstractor Corporation: “It’s clear from these findings that a lack of sophisticated cyber solutions, security policies and staff training are significantly hindering UK charities. The lack of training and responses to breaches is of particular concern, especially as new threats and methods of attack are constantly being developed.
“The cost of a cyber breach goes far beyond just the financial impact, even after GDPR. Charities risk damaging their reputation and good work by not deploying the proper protection. With data breaches taking place on an almost daily occurrence, it’s more important than ever that charities focus on their cyber security measures and take the necessary steps to protect themselves against cyber criminals.”
UK’s first Charity Digital Code of Practice
The UK’s first Charity Digital Code of Practice has been produced to provide charities with practical advice on incorporating digital technology into their work. Funded by Lloyds Banking Group and the Co-op Foundation it has been managed by a steering group of representatives from across the sector and chaired by independent digital expert Zoe Amar. It is voluntary and free to access for all charities.
The need for the Charity Digital Code of Practice was identified following publication of the Lloyds Bank UK Business Digital Index 2017 which showed only 48% of charities have full basic digital skills, and 50% of charity leaders lack confidence in introducing digital change.
The new code is a key product for the Digital Skills Partnership which brings together organisations from all sectors to increase digital capability in a collaborative way. It represents an effort from within the sector to level the playing field with other industries and improve the sustainability, impact, and efficiency of charities across the UK. It aims to help charities deliver on their charitable purpose in an increasingly digital age.
The code has identified seven principles to be considered by charities wishing to develop their digital activity. The principles cover best practice relating to leadership, beneficiaries and other stakeholders, culture, strategy, skills, adaptability and managing risks and ethics. It also sets out how to measure success when making changes to digital.
Following a consultation period and input from charities of all sizes, a number of resources are being produced to help charities implement advice from the code. Resources will include how-to guides, video case studies and tips from other charities.
A version of the code has been produced for small charities alongside tailored resources to help charities with tighter budgets and less capacity to understand where they can make improvements. This aspect of the code has been a particular priority for the steering group due to the revelation from the 2018 Charity Digital Skills report that 58% of charities see funding as their biggest obstacle to digital progress.
As well as increasing digital motivation, confidence and skills within the charity sector workforce, advice from the code seeks to make charities more accessible for beneficiaries and create new opportunities for funders to engage with digital activity.
Sarah Atkinson, director of policy, planning and communications at the Charity Commission, says: “Digital is changing the way the public behaves. For charities to stay relevant, increase the difference they can make, and protect their charity from risks, understanding and engaging with the digital world is vital.”
Jamie Ward-Smith, chair of the Co-op Foundation, comments: “The new code will help charities connect with their online audiences better than ever before, putting them in a stronger position to serve their communities and secure their own futures. It will support smaller charities, in particular, to create a digital-first culture where they can raise funds, awareness and connections online for the greatest impact.”
Nick Williams, managing director, commercial and business banking transformation at Lloyds Banking Group, observes: “99% of charities are now online and more than ever before have basic digital skills. With 60% still not using digital methods to receive donations there is much to do. We must do all we can to support the continued growth of digital understanding, skills and confidence to ensure more charities, and their beneficiaries, are set up for success.”
Charity moves IT focus from desktops
The Salvation Army has installed an IT solution from Citrix which has switched the emphasis of IT use from PCs in the office to any devices, whether people’s own or as supplied. This followed awareness by the charity that its previous PC based network was both restricting flexibility and expensive to maintain and update, and that a change was needed to reduce the burden on its 30-member IT team which supports 5,000 officers and employees in the UK and Ireland.
Staff now use Dell Wyse thin-client terminals to access a Citrix virtual Windows desktop with all their apps and information. When out of the office, people can access the same desktop from any device. Unlike PCs, thin clients do not need regular desk-side maintenance and do not need to be refreshed every couple of years. As a result, the organisation has lowered total cost of ownership while improving tech performance.
The Salvation Army’s IT team found that logon times with PCs could range from a couple of minutes to 10 minutes but with Citrix technology this has been reduced to just under 60 seconds every time.
Wherever it’s required, whether dealing with people on a one to one basis or in a disaster situation, the charity prides itself on being a “connected Army”. Now anyone with an authorised user account and a device using the Citrix Workspace App can connect securely to their desktop apps and information. The ability to connect remotely and securely ensures staff do not need to retype handwritten notes later. By keeping data on the central servers, the charity is reducing both paper and the risk of data leakage.
Neil Edmonds, UK and Ireland IT operations manager at the Salvation Army, says: “PCs tend to get tethered to the individual. And, in turn, users can become tethered to their desks. But this solution has helped us to increase home and flexible working. We started with a small proof of concept, and people loved it. From there, it just grew and grew until we made a high level decision to buy no more PCs.
“We encourage staff to use their own devices, if they prefer, and this makes it quicker and easier to connect them to the resources they require. Officers and staff can now connect to applications during home visits or when working on the streets and more quickly provide people with the services they need. Staff can easily work wherever they are.”
Charity trustees are failing to improve
Analysis from the second annual MHA and Charity Finance Group charity trustee finance competency survey suggests continuing deficiencies in the financial governance competency of charities, as well as a lack of diversity on boards.
While over half of respondents (57%) said they understood strategic financial governance matters well or very well, nearly nine in ten respondents (87%) said their charity could benefit from having a better understanding of strategic financial governance matters, and nearly two thirds (65%) fail to formally assess board competency in charity finance.
In addition, over half (55%) of charities do not formally assess the effectiveness of their financial governance, an increase of 9% from 2017. This suggests that many charities are failing to recognise the improvements that should be made to become high performing.
Unsurprisingly virtually all charities (99%) consider it important to have more than one trustee engaged with their charity’s finances, which would suggest a need for trustee training and development, but only 56% make training available, a reduction from 81% in 2017.
Respondents are honest in recognising that charity boards are not diverse enough in terms of demographics and background, with 44% rating this as poor. Meanwhile, despite this the diversity of thought within boards was considered to be much better and assessed to be poor by only 15% of charities surveyed.
Sudhir Singh, partner and head of not for profit at accountancy firm MHA MacIntyre Hudson, says: “Our survey results are consistent with last year in identifying mediocre standards in financial governance and a lack of real commitment to trustee competency and diversity. The inconsistencies in charities’ responses certainly points to a widespread lack of self-awareness, and probably unacceptable complacency.
“Trustees need a reality check on their own performance, and increasing numbers are undertaking formal assessments. Most would be truly shocked if they understood this is holding back their charities’ impact on beneficiaries. So, I would encourage all to take advantage of the widely available guidance and training that is available – it would be remiss of them not to do so.”
2019 could be a good year for charities
A survey by law firm Withers shows that despite uncertainties and pressures the UK’s largest charities expect to see opportunities for growth and activity in the year ahead. Chris Priestley, head of Withers' charities and philanthropy team, says: “We were surprised to find our poll painting a picture of resilience and even optimism in the charity sector, with 83% of respondents saying they felt 2019 would be better or at least no worse than 2018.
“What was less surprising was that Brexit was identified as the top issue with which charities are currently dealing and, anecdotally, several charities said they expected Brexit to result in much greater demand for their services, which could in turn lead to fundraising opportunities. Safeguarding, fundraising concerns and GDPR were also reported as key issues.
“Our own expectations for 2019 are that governance at charities will be tested by several pressure points. Brexit will clearly be one, and we also expect to see charities reacting to recent scandals relating to 'bad behaviour' by adopting ethical codes that they will encourage staff to adhere to.”
Pet food company commits to rescue animals
Family-run pet food company Burns Pet Nutrition, which already regularly donates its specialist line of natural pet food to over 40 rescue centres across the UK, has announced that it will this year offer support to three chosen charities in the UK and Ireland as part of its ongoing Charity of the Year Programme. Blue Cross, Yorkshire Cat Rescue and GalwaySPCA have all been selected by Burns to receive a year’s worth of financial assistance and food amounting to more than £100,000 in value.
The three charities were chosen following an application and interview process which saw over 25 animal welfare organisations apply in total. The collaboration marks the fourth consecutive year that Burns, based in Kidwelly, South Wales, has run its Charity of the Year Programme as part of an ongoing initiative to give back to charity.
Burns business owner, philanthropist and veterinary surgeon John Burns hit the headlines last year after donating £1m to charity to mark the company’s 25th anniversary when he said: “I have decided that Burns should be a force for good. I want the company to not only be known for our natural pet food, but also for establishing and maintaining a legacy of good causes in the community.”
In addition to financial support, animal rescue charity Blue Cross, which has been running since 1897, will receive food at five of its rescue centres: Bromsgrove, Lewknor, Southampton, Burford and Tiverton.
Joanna Bronziet, corporate partnerships manager at Blue Cross, says: “There is a very natural fit between the ethos and objectives of Blue Cross and Burns which gives us lots of opportunities to work together in a very meaningful and impactful way. Burns will be providing its high quality dog food to dedicated Blue Cross rehoming centres throughout the year and will also be raising funds towards our work across all of our services with pets.”
In addition to its Charity of the Year Programme, Burns runs a number of grassroots projects including the Better Tomorrow Programme, which aims to engage and help young people to develop valuable life skills, and the Burns by Your Side reading to dogs’ programme, designed to help children struggling with literacy and communication. The company has 10 full-time members of staff working in its community department.
Bank backs mental health
Specialist bank Aldermore has chosen mental health charity Mind as its Charity of the Year for 2019. Mind was the winning selection after a shortlist of charities were put to a bank-wide employee vote. Aldermore will hold a series of planned fundraising events throughout the year, everything from bake sales to sponsored runs, and the bank will match the amount raised at each event via its “pound for pound” scheme.
James Mack, chief financial officer at Aldermore, says: “We are proud to have Mind as our chosen Charity of the Year as it has done amazing work raising awareness and changing mind-sets around mental health in the UK. It is estimated that one in four people will experience a mental health problem in any given year, and the support and services Mind provides to those going through difficulties is invaluable.”
Mental health support for RAF families
Families of serving RAF personnel can benefit from new training to spot mental health issues, thanks to the RAF Association. The charity has received two grants from the Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Mental Health Promotion Fund and the Postcode Community Trust to launch a training programme to spot mental health issues, which begins at RAF Coningsby. It will expand to a further 10 stations later in the year.
Adult Mental Health Aware Half Day is the first course to be offered to the partners and spouses of serving RAF personnel and civilian staff contracted to work on stations. The association recognises the vital role families play in identifying and understanding mental health issues and the course provides the understanding and supporting skills to implement practical support
Teachers of children whose parents serve in the RAF at schools local to the stations can also take advantage of the programme. The RAF Association piloted the course at RAF Benson and RAF Valley in 2017 with participants saying they had a better understanding of issues affecting people and the signs to look out for.
3.1% of UK Armed Forces personnel were assessed with a mental disorder by MOD Specialist Mental Health Services in 2017-18.
UK charities triumph at awards
Alison Chan of the Alexandra Rose Charity and Anna Machin of education charity Ark were given awards at the ICSA Awards 2018. Alison, a trustee of the Alexandra Rose Charity, which gives families access to fruit and vegetables in their local communities, won the Governance Professional of the Year award. Anna triumphed in the One to Watch category, which recognises the rising stars of the governance profession.
The awards, which are organised by ICSA: The Governance Institute, recognise those organisations, individuals and teams that are leading the way in good governance and also recognise those organisations which are leading the way in corporate reporting. The event, which was hosted by comedian Jo Caulfield, saw over 700 governance professionals gathered together at the Park Lane Hilton hotel in London to celebrate the achievements of their peers.
The NHS merger of University Hospitals of Derby and Burton NHS Foundation Trust was named Governance Project of the Year and Miranda Craig of the Sage Group was crowned Company Secretary of the Year.
Simon Osborne, chief executive of ICSA, says: “Good governance benefits all organisations, regardless of size, by establishing a framework of processes and attitudes that adds value, helps to build reputation and ensures long term continuity and success.
“Both Alison and Anna have demonstrated a commitment to good governance which has enabled them to make a substantial impact on their respective organisations. It is particularly gratifying that see that academy governance, which is a developing discipline, has talented governance professionals at work in a trust.”
Support programme for housing charities
Oak Foundation has launched a pilot programme to heighten the impact and sustainability of the housing and homelessness charities in its portfolio. The programme will leverage the specialist skills of professional volunteers sourced through three partner charities: Pro Bono Economics will advise Oak Foundation’s portfolio charities on measuring and evaluating their impact, while Cranfield Trust and Pilotlight will offer coaching and mentoring and services in areas such as business planning, governance and financial management.
The pilot will run for two years and reflects the foundation’s recognition that a collaborative approach is key to equipping its grantees with crucial business skills as they deal with the challenges of the operating environment and of building long term resilience.
As Julia Grant, chief executive of Pro Bono Economics, says: “Pro Bono Economics, Cranfield Trust and Pilotlight have already helped thousands of charities to survive and thrive. By joining forces in this new programme for the Oak Foundation, we are creating a comprehensive advisory package for frontline charities in the housing and homelessness sector.”
Pro Bono Economics will harness tools and insights from economics to help Oak Foundation’s grantees understand and improve their impact and value, while Cranfield Trust’s volunteers and Pilotlight’s members – management consultants and businesses leaders respectively – will help them develop their business skills and strengthen their strategic thinking.
Says Grant: “Charities, armed with a solid strategy, can build resilience and make a more compelling case to funders.”
Teaching softer skills for employment
Grow, a new charity aiming to get vulnerable young people into work, has been launched in Sheffield after a successful pilot programme that saw local businesses and volunteers unite to support a group of unemployed youngsters during an eight-week trial period.The charity aims to nurture the softer skills and teach the hidden rules of the workplace to society’s most vulnerable young adults, through an eight-week programme of group coaching, one-on-one sessions and practical work experience.
Candidates aged 16-24 are invited to join the programme, which is completely free of charge to participants and will help them to progress up the ladder to employment, regardless of their background.
Steven Cotton, founder of Grow, says: “Sheffield is an entrepreneurial city full of inspiring businesses founded by people who were given a chance in life by family, loved ones, mentors and the community. There are so many vulnerable young people in the city who need this same opportunity to get them into the world of work, yet have no idea where to begin.
“Many of our candidates will never have experienced employment before, or will have had setbacks that have pushed them further and further away from a job. Grow will help these individuals unlock their potential and contribute positively to community and the local economy.”
Grow is entirely self-funded and does not receive any government finance, relying instead on charitable grants and fundraising from within the local community.
Job placement highlighted as charity celebrates first year
Skills matching charity ASTRiiD, which finds employment opportunities for jobseekers with long term illnesses, is celebrating its first anniversary by pointing to the success it has had by placing ME sufferer Victoria Clutton with engineering and R&D services company Altran. Responsible for overhauling the company’s intranet system, Victoria has made the role her own by maximising her specialist computer science background and recently committed to a six-month extension to her original contract.
The charity, whose full name is Available Skills for Training, Refreshing, Improvement, Innovation and Development, operates a jobs matchmaking platform, and invites jobseekers like Victoria, who have chronic, often incurable health problems, and their care-givers, to join its free online community. Here, they can describe their talents and provide details on how and when they can work, while companies list their flexible paid or voluntary positions available. ASTRiiD then links them up.
ASTRiiD chairman Steve Shutts says: “My late brother David founded the charity shortly after his stage 4 cancer diagnosis, with the aim to galvanise the ‘invisible talent pool’ – skilled people like Victoria who have dipped under the employment radar because of a particular diagnosis but are ready and eager to work, if given the chance.”
Holiday firm supports water safety in big way
Haven, the family holiday company with 40 parks around the UK coast, is celebrating the first year of its national charity partnership with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution prior to another year of support involving the promotion of water safety through fun events on and around its parks.
Haven has raised over £115,000 across its holiday parks to support the RNLI since the partnership launched in March 2018. Throughout that time Haven teams, holiday home owners and holidaymakers have thrown themselves into events and challenges for the charity’s flagship fundraising campaign Mayday and seafood themed Fish Supper event.
Activities included Strictly inspired dance contests, a yellow welly relay between parks, family festivals, donkey rides, football tournaments, open water swimming and leg waxing. Haven and the RNLI’s cuddly mascots Rory the Tiger and Stormy Stan also got involved in the family fun at parks, together with the other members of Haven’s Seaside Squad. Also Haven staff have shared the RNLI’s water safety advice with guests at the holiday parks.
More than 3,000 children took part in RNLI Coastal Explorer, a co-created family activity led by Haven’s Park Rangers that helps kids enjoy the coast while learning how to stay safe beside the seaside. The partnership has also seen the RNLI gain new supporters, with 83 people signing up at one park in Devon alone.
Jane Bentall, managing director of Haven, says: “We look forward to supporting the RNLI over this year and hope to raise even more to help the brave individuals who save lives at sea.”
Bank staff exceed big fundraising ambition
Santander has raised £3.2 million for Age UK and Barnardo’s during its three-year partnership, exceeding its original £3 million ambition. Santander staff also contributed over 10,000 hours support, carrying out a wide range of fundraising activities for the two charities, including International Challenge events with 120 employees travelling to South Africa, Nepal and Cambodia to help vulnerable communities abroad while fundraising to support those closer to home.
Other activities were a Knockout competitions which achieved record numbers of staff participation; and “Store Wars” challenges with Santander employees taking over Age UK and Barnardo’s stores around the country and competing for sales during the day. Over 100 Santander employees also made regular calls as part of Age UK’s Call in Time programme and teams from across the bank delivered workshops in communities on topics such as digital skills, fraud awareness and financial capability.
In addition to fundraising and volunteering, Santander funded two strategic programmes: Age UK’s Ambitions for Later Life, which helped over 5,300 older people to better plan for the future, improve their confidence and feel more financially resilient; and Barnardo’s On Track, which helped over 380 young people to overcome significant challenges through over 1,500 hours of one to one support as well as 50 creative employability sessions delivered alongside local employers.
Fundraiser for museums backed by artists themselves
Artists and other celebrities turned out in force to support a charity auction of pictures, some produced by the attendees themselves, in aid of the British Friends of the Art Museums of Israel (BFAMI) at the Dorchester hotel, London. Among the supporting artists were Isaac Julien, Ron Arad, Keith Tyson, Sir Michael Craig-Martin and James Turrell.
Led by auctioneer, Helena Newman, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, the star lot was Isaac Julien’s “Stones Against Diamonds (Ice Cave)” reaching £130,000 in the room (estimate £65,000-£85,000), followed by Keith Tyson’s “Still Life with Forget-me-nots” reaching £26,000, and a Hollywood-style staged family portrait experience by fashion photographer Miles Aldridge reaching £24,000. The total raised across the live and silent auction was just shy of £450,000.
Among other luminaries of the art world present – whether artists, collectors, heads of auctioneers or museum directors – were Wendy Fisher, Grayson Perry, Maria Balshaw, Yinka Shonebare, Poju & Anita Zabludowicz, Thomas Heatherwick, Victoria Siddall and Cheyenne Westphal. The dinner and auction were sponsored by Sotheby’s.
Optician chain builds on fundraising achievement
Optician firm Vision Express has started the nineth year of its partnership with the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust with a £46,000 donation. This comes on top of the company’s eight years of fundraising efforts for the charity which raised £600,000 to help survivors of an aggressive eye cancer condition called retinoblastoma (Rb) affecting babies and under 5s, and also to inform about its symptoms.
Alongside educational initiatives to urge parents to prioritise eye tests, young ambassadors living with the condition have visited Vision Express stores across the UK as VIPs to open new stores. Fundraising challenges have included an endurance cycling event called Ride4Sight, skydives, marathons, raffles and an annual Christmas quiz.
The charity’s chief executive, Patrick Tonks, says: “The cancer currently has a 98% survival rate; however, treatment process can be very challenging – about half of the children have an eye removed to stop the cancer from spreading, which has long term implications for them and their families.”
Dan McGhee, director of professional services at Vision Express, comments: “Our relationship with CHECT is extremely special to us. Vision Express was the first optician in the UK to roll out a protocol to ensure a quick and effective referral if Rb is suspected. We know how important it is for children affected to get specialist care without delay. Thanks to our education programme and fundraising, we’re proud to know we make a difference to families who face such a devastating diagnosis.”
Family charity gets fast food support
When Asia’s popular fast food brand Jollibee opened its first restaurant in London with queuing diners eventually enjoying its best-selling crispylicious and juiclylicious fried chicken, Chickenjoy, and the famous Jolly Spaghetti, it did so in parallel with starting an ongoing support programme for charity Family Action.
Lucky families were treated to a sneak preview of the Jollibee menu at a private event where Jollibee CEO and president Ernesto Tanmantiong from the Philippines announced a donation to the charity and commitment to support the charity as the Jollibee business grows in the UK, seeking to build on its reputation as a family orientated organisation.
Socially responsible and ethical investing more important
Newton Investment Management’s fifth annual Charity Investment Survey for 2018 has revealed that 71% of charities see environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as increasingly important, up from 62% in 2017.
According to the survey, when asked about the effectiveness of engagement with companies on ESG issues, the majority of charities believe ESG engagement on company behaviour had a positive impact (92%) and would help companies improve their ESG credentials. However, the majority of charities think the impact on investment performance is likely to be negative.
Jeremy Wells, senior client director of charities and institutions at Newton, says: “Charities have long been at the forefront of socially responsible and ethical investing thinking and practice. Over the last five years we have noted a steady rise in charities’ desire to see their ethical criteria applied to investments held in pooled funds as well as those held directly – from 53% in 2014 to 70% in the latest survey.
“The charities surveyed clearly showed that it is important to take ESG factors into account when investing, and to engage to change company behaviours. When asked what they felt was the best approach to dealing with companies which score “badly” on ESG criteria, by far the most prevalent response was to engage with or pressure a company to change its behaviour (73%), a response that was almost three times more popular than to exclude the company from an investment portfolio (27%).”
Other findings from the survey relating to a whole range of other mainly investment aspects are as follows:
PERFORMANCE. After reporting strong investment performance in 2017, charities have reported more meagre returns in this year’s survey and are more cautious about future prospects. The average total return for charities was 4.2%, compared to 10.9% in 2017.
BREXIT. The anticipated impacts of Brexit on charitable portfolios are increasingly negative, while some charities also fear it could hinder their charitable work. 83% and 82% think it will have a negative impact on capital and income respectively. Only 26% of charities believe that Brexit will not affect their portfolios.
WITHDRAWAL RATES. More charities appear to be making withdrawals at a higher rate than they regard as sustainable. In 2018, 23% of charities took a withdrawal of 5% or more to spend on their charitable activities, compared to 13% of charities in the 2017 survey. This has pushed the average withdrawal rate to 4% in 2018, up from 3% in 2017 and above the sustainable withdrawal rate, which charities believe is 3.4%
ASSET ALLOCATION. On average, charities’ exposure to UK equities continues to be in decline (down 13% from 2017), as do allocations to both UK and overseas bonds. However, allocation to overseas equities (up 33%) and property (up 11%) continues to drift higher.
ACTIVE VERSUS PASSIVE. Charities remain strong supporters of active management approaches, although with smaller charities more likely to invest passively. The latest survey shows a growing proportion of charities only using active investment management strategies (70% in 2018, up from 66% in 2014), but also a rise in charities only using passive strategies (8% in 2018, up from 2% in 2014).
REGULATION. In the 2018 survey three quarters of charities felt the legal and regulatory environment had become tougher over the last 3-5 years, with 63% also saying that this tougher environment had increased their charity’s costs.
DIVERSITY. While the UK charity sector leads the way on gender diversity at trustee board level (women account for 37% of board members), the survey results suggest diversity of ethnicity and age is less well represented. Just 4% of trustee board members in 2018 are black and minority ethnic (BME), while 7% are under the age of 40.
Specialist major funding for grant-making charity
Greenham Trust, a Berkshire based charity which provides grants in the local area, has been able to raise £25m through a 25-year secured private placement with a single investor, Aberdeen Standard Investments. Financial risk advisory firm JCRA arranged the deal on behalf of the trust.
Founded in 1997, Greenham Trust uses income generated from its asset portfolio to make charitable grants to organisations in West Berkshire and North Hampshire. To date, it has provided over £40m to a variety of causes and across almost 3,000 separate charitable organisations. In growing revenues from under £0.5m per annum in 1997 to over £5.3m in 2018, Greenham Trust has built a sustainable structure for giving, both through direct grants, matched funding and its online platform – The Good Exchange.
JCRA believes the deal demonstrates that specialist charities can access the capital markets in an efficient manner. By identifying pools of demand where a charity’s unique business model fits investor needs, offering diversification and socially responsible investment (SRI), charitable trusts can fund at a low cost that maximises the return on charitable assets.
Proceeds of the trust’s private placement will help fund the development of five new commercial properties on the Greenham business park site, as well as repaying existing bank loans.
The deal was structured with a 19-year average life, broadly matching the life of the underlying leases.
Chris Boulton, chief executive of Greenham Trust and Greenham Business Park, says: “We are excited to have completed our inaugural private placement. This will enable the trust to deliver an extensive development programme to accommodate both existing and new occupiers at Greenham Business Park. The aim is to create further charitable funds to distribute to the communities we support.”
Adrian Bell, a director of JCRA, says: “This private placement provides the charity with long dated, low cost funding, which allows it to embark on the next stage of its development.”
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