• insights

The charity and not-for-profit landscape is constantly changing and we are always developing new thinking, picking up good ideas and coming across valuable information that we like to pass on, in our mission to help our clients achieve even greater success.

This blog is our platform for sharing these insights as they arise, and engaging with the whole sector in the spirit of collectively striving towards excellence.

TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Sep 13, 2019, 9:30 AM
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Leeds community fund invites applications

Charities in the North of England can apply for a share of a £100,000 fund pot from a partnership of Northern Gas Networks (NGN), Northern Powergrid and Leeds Community Foundation.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Sep 13, 2019, 9:30 AM
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New funding for small international development charities

Small UK not-for-profit organisations working on international development projects can now ap-ply for a grant through the latest round of funding from the Department for International Devel-opment’s Small Charities Challenge Fund (SCCF).
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Sep 6, 2019, 9:30 AM
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Applications for £3 million Dream Fund now open

Applications for the People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund opened this week.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Aug 30, 2019, 9:30 AM
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Christian distinctiveness: an aid to fundraising, or a hindrance?

Action Planning has worked with hundreds of Christian charities and churches over the years, and one of the themes that frequently emerges is that it is really hard to raise funds for Christian causes.
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OndineUpton
Ondine Upton
Aug 30, 2019, 9:30 AM
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Whose eyes are we looking through? Top tips for developing organisational success with major donors

One of the most powerful game-changers for an organisation serious about major donor fundraising is to look at everything through their donors’ eyes
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Aug 30, 2019, 9:30 AM
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Government puts up £30m for 5G projects

The Government’s pledge to roll out 5G to the UK’s rural communities has been backed up by a £30million prize fund. Up to 10 5g research and development projects will be chosen for funding over the next two years.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Aug 23, 2019, 9:30 AM
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New round of community funding from Power to Change

A grant fund worth £60,000 has been made available to charities across the South of England to support community projects.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Aug 16, 2019, 11:00 AM
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New grant fund for community projects across the South

A grant fund worth £60,000 has been made available to charities across the South of England to support community projects.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Aug 2, 2019, 9:29 AM
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The Times 2019 Christmas Appeal opens for applications

Charities can now apply to be part of The Times’ 2019 Christmas Appeal. The successful appli-cants will be featured in articles running in the paper throughout the appeal, which runs over the Christmas period.
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SeanTully
Sean Tully
Jul 25, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Church capital appeals - how to improve your chances

One of Action Planning’s regular training seminars, the event focussed on how churches can practically approach a capital fundraising appeal of any size. Here, Sean explains some of the main learning points that arose from the day.
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DavidLoxton
David Loxton
Jul 25, 2019, 8:00 AM
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New Fundraising Code of Practice – Good news, and a helpful reminder

The Fundraising Regulator has released a new Code of Practice that takes effect in October 2019. It is a big step forward in bringing together the existing Code and rule books into one, better written and better organised document.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jul 25, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Climate change initiatives to receive £100m National Lottery funding

Organisations involved in tackling climate change will soon be able to apply for funding from The National Lottery Community Fund. The UK’s biggest funder of community activity has launched a new £100 million Climate Action Fund.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jul 19, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Connected Communities to match fund London projects

Local community projects in London are being offered the opportunity to apply for match funding of up to £10,000, thanks to a joint initiative between Crowdfunder and Trust for London.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jul 19, 2019, 9:30 AM
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Extra time to apply for The Big Give Christmas Challenge

The UK’s biggest online match funding campaign, The Christmas Challenge from The Big Give, has extended its deadline for applications by a week to next Friday, 19th July.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jul 5, 2019, 8:00 AM
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GSK IMPACT Awards supporting health and wellbeing charities in 2020

Nesta Challenges is inviting charities and social enterprises to bid for grants from a £1m fund, called the Tech to Connect Challenge, launched to help the development of tech-based solutions to social isolation.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jun 27, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Nesta Challenges puts up £1m to tackle social isolation through technology

Nesta Challenges is inviting charities and social enterprises to bid for grants from a £1m fund, called the Tech to Connect Challenge, launched to help the development of tech-based solutions to social isolation.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jun 27, 2019, 8:00 AM
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National Heritage fund to hand out £100m over three years

UK heritage organisations are being invited to apply for grants worth £5million and more, as part of a new awards programme from The National Lottery Heritage Fund.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jun 20, 2019, 8:00 AM
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New funding available for community green energy projects

The Government’s Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF) is inviting new community projects across England to apply for feasibility study grants of up to £40,000 to support renewable energy initiatives.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jun 20, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Nationwide offers housing project grants in Northern Ireland

The Nationwide Building Society is awarding grants of between £10,000 and £50,000 to local housing projects that; prevent people from losing their home, help people into a home, and/or support people to thrive within the home environment.
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DavidBull
David Bull
Jun 18, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Leadership teams: you can’t do it all by yourself!

If you are a charity CEO, you know you can’t do it all by yourself. Which is why the Leadership Team is so important. The most effective organisations are led by a committed, unified team sharing responsibility for the whole. Expert David Bull tells us why – and how to make your leadership team the best!
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jun 18, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Futures for Women: The Next Episode

Back in January we published a case study on our work with Futures For Women, helping the 160-year-old charity to examine its relevance today and establish a vision and mission that would carry the charity forward with renewed vigour. Last week, we heard from FFW secretary Jane Hampson with some encouraging news.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jun 13, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Discounted housing grant scheme unveiled

Getting together to give is not new. People have acted collectively to donate their money or time for generations. But over the last decade there has been renewed interest in “giving circles”. Philanthropy specialist Rob John discusses why this is important for the charity sector.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jun 13, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Co-op Foundation invites funding applications from Welsh community groups

Community groups in Wales have two more weeks to apply for funding from the new £1million Co-Op Foundation fund.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jun 13, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Government opens fund to reduce food waste

Organisations that help to cut food waste by redistributing surplus food to people in need are being invited to apply for grants from a new round of DEFRA funding.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jun 13, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Lloyds open last round of Enable grants

Lloyds Bank Foundation has announced its last round of Enable grants, offering up to £15,000 to help charities develop or trial new approaches to service delivery.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Jun 13, 2019, 8:00 AM
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£5 million fund launched for supporting unpaid carers

A new Carers Innovation Fund has been launched to help finance innovative ways of supporting unpaid carers.
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RobJohn
Rob John
May 24, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Virtuous Circles: collective giving is a powerful way to develop better donors

Getting together to give is not new. People have acted collectively to donate their money or time for generations. But over the last decade there has been renewed interest in “giving circles”. Philanthropy specialist Rob John discusses why this is important for the charity sector.
Read more...
LaylaMoosavi
Layla Moosavi
May 24, 2019, 8:00 AM
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CORPORATE SPONSORSHIP: PREPARE TO SUCCEED

As fundraisers, we all know how difficult it is to get through the door of a corporate. So when we do, it’s crucial we use the opportunity effectively. Fundraising expert Layla Moosavi Rivers tells us how to prepare to succeed.
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EleanorMitchell
Eleanor Mitchell
Apr 16, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Management: what, why, and how to do it

While management is often described as the coordination and organisation of business activities to meet a defined purpose, the management of people is not always valued. Yet as Action Planning Associate Eleanor Mitchell explains, it is the people within an organisation that create its success.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Apr 16, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Action Planning Associates: introducing Mark Goldring

Action Planning has an extensive team of outstanding and highly-experienced Associate Consultants. This month we are delighted to introduce – and welcome - one of the newest members of our network, former Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring.
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SallyDenbigh
Sally Denbigh
Mar 14, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Why would anyone be a charity trustee?!

The role carries a lot of responsibility, has legal and financial liabilities, can be extremely hard work, is frequently stressful, often under-valued… and it’s unpaid… So why on earth would anyone be a charity Trustee?! For a number of (very good) reasons, in fact…
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TracyMadgwick
Tracy Madgwick
Feb 14, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Managing Underperformance

Managing people’s performance is one of the key issues facing any charity. After all, in most cases the people are the charity. If, however, your organisation is faced with underperformance issues, HR professional Tracy Madgwick advises on how to manage these effectively.
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KarenMorton
Karen Morton
Jan 17, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Awaydays: Holding the Space

New Year is the perfect time to ‘health check’ not just ourselves, but our charities too. And what better way than with an awayday? Action Planning Associate Karen Morton tells us how we can “hold the space”.
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DavidKirby
David Kirby
Jan 17, 2019, 8:00 AM
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Trading Subsidiaries: Using one, or think you should be?

Recent developments have affected the way in which payments from a trading subsidiary to its parent charity must be shown in the accounts. If your charity has a trading subsidiary – or you think perhaps it should have one – then you need to read this article by charity specialist lawyer David Kirby.
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SallyDenbigh
Sally Denbigh
Dec 13, 2018, 8:00 AM
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Charity at Christmas

Working in the voluntary sector, we spend most of our time thinking about and helping others - it’s in the job description, after all! Just occasionally however, maybe we should take a moment to really think about what we do and the good that we do for charity. And give ourselves a well-deserved pat on the back. Not often of course… maybe just once a year, at Christmas!
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Dec 13, 2018, 8:00 AM
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You Can't Tickle Yourself!

Interviewed at the recent Christian Resources Exhibition, Chairman David Saint speaks candidly about how Action Planning started almost 30 years ago (spoiler alert, he was fired!), and what the organisation can offer to help charities.
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DavidBull
David Bull
Nov 8, 2018, 8:00 AM
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Protective Organisational Culture

In the wake of the recent crisis in the International Development sector following revelations of unacceptable behaviour by some staff, expert David Bull deliberates culture change to achieve safeguarding objectives, and advocates ten key elements to ensure a protective organisational culture.
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FionaLewis
Fiona Lewis
Nov 8, 2018, 8:00 AM
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What Is A Content Strategy, And Do You Need One?

Online content is the most cost-effective way to reach large numbers of people. But what is meant by ‘content’, what should it address, and what actually is a ‘content strategy’…and does your charity need one? Marketing professional Fiona Lewis helps explains!
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FeliciaWillow
Felicia Willow
Oct 9, 2018, 8:00 AM
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Employing Trustees: Navigating The Minefield

One of your charity Trustees (or ex-Trustees) may seem like the perfect candidate to join your staff team. However, as expert Felicia Willow explains as she ‘navigates the minefield’, employing Trustees is not straightforward, and in some cases not even possible.
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SallyDenbigh
Sally Denbigh
Oct 9, 2018, 8:00 AM
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Salaries and Benchmarking

Determining the appropriate salary for a job is not always easy, and also of course depends on what your organisation can afford to pay. Charity specialists action planning consider how to decide the right remuneration for a role, including salary benchmarking.
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admin
Oct 9, 2018, 8:00 AM
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Are you a Charity That Helps Women Enter the Workplace?

Are you a charity that helps women enter the workplace? If so, you may wish to join forces with Futures for Women to help disadvantaged women in the UK attain their career ambitions and become financially independent.
Read more...
LaylaMoosavi
Layla Moosavi
Sep 13, 2018, 8:00 AM
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Marketing And Communications In Small Charities

Marketing and Communications in small charities has its own particular challenges and requirements. Expert Layla Moosavi advises that it’s about going back to basics, knowing your audience, reviewing your strengths and resources, focusing and prioritising, and planning, planning, planning.
Read more...
SallyDenbigh
Sally Denbigh
Aug 9, 2018, 8:00 AM
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Finding and Recruiting the Hottest New Candidates

It’s August, it’s Summer and it’s too hot to be thinking about recruitment. Right? Wrong! With one of the peak times of year for recruitment only a few weeks away, charities should already be starting to think about and getting ready to hire the best and hottest new candidates.
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EmilyPetty
Emily Petty
Aug 9, 2018, 8:00 AM
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Building Meaningful Lifelong Relationships with Supporters

What does relationship fundraising look like in today’s world? And how should charities be balancing short-term need with lifetime value? By putting our supporters first, argues Emily Petty, valuing every way they engage with us and focusing on the experiences that they have.
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FeliciaWillow
Felicia Willow
Jul 12, 2017, 10:41 AM
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Charity crisis: Do you know what to do when something goes wrong?

All of us, obviously, want things to go smoothly at our charity; but what to do when things go wrong? How we handle a crisis could well mean make or break. Expert Felicia Willow gives her ‘five priorities’ to best manage a crisis – and come out the other side!
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SallyDenbigh
Sally Denbigh
Jul 5, 2018, 10:41 AM
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Legacy fundraising: don’t leave it to luck!

Legacies are an important source of funding, yet more than half of charitable bequests are left by previously ‘unknown’ donors. Lucky? For the charity, yes. But effective legacy fundraising is about much more than luck. We look at the potential for your charity to develop a long-term, sustainable legacy fundraising strategy.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Jul 12, 2017, 10:41 AM
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How To Plan A Capital Appeal

For most organisations, major capital projects are not common occurrences – they only come along perhaps once every five to ten years. From a fundraising perspective, what’s the best way to prepare for this, in particular to ensure that ongoing revenue...
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FeliciaWillow
Felicia Willow
Jul 12, 2017, 10:41 AM
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Trustee appraisals – have you got yours in place?

The Charity Governance Code recommends that the Boards of all charities – large and small – review their performance and effectiveness. Do you have a plan in place for doing that? And are you implementing the plan?! Felicia Willow discusses the many benefits of the process.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Mar 21, 2018, 10:41 AM
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Where are the Visionaries?

Charities pride themselves on making a difference, yet so often we seem to get caught in the rut of doing the same old same old – usually with fewer resources! How can we lift our eyes from the treadmill, and scan distant horizons?
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Mar 14, 2018, 10:41 AM
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The answer’s Yes. What’s the question?

Action Planning gets asked to help with an extraordinarily diverse range of issues, from an equally diverse range of organisations. Take a look through our recent caseload, and see whether any of these resonate with some of the challenges you are facing in your charity.
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LucindaShaw
Lucinda Shaw
Mar 14, 2018, 10:41 AM
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Focussing on People rather than Performance will get you to Excellence

Almost every organisation will say that its people are its greatest asset. And yet far too many organisations pay lip service to ‘training and development’. Top athletes achieve astonishing feats – often more than they themselves believed possible, and often because of the support of their coach. How much more could your people achieve if properly coached? And what is coaching anyway?
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RobinHamilton
Robin Hamilton
Feb 8, 2018, 10:41 AM
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Learning lessons from Oxfam - To disclose or not to disclose? That is the question.

It is sad to see so many media outlets and commentators jumping on the Oxfam-bashing bandwagon – mostly with comment and posturing – so instead here is some practical advice about how to set up a framework for dealing with reputational risk – before disaster strikes.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Feb 8, 2018, 10:41 AM
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How to diversify income

Any organisation that is dependent on one source for more than 30% of its income is at risk. Many charities are dependent on one source for 80% - 90% of their income! Diversification is the name of the game – but where to start? And how can we make sure it doesn’t all go horribly wrong? We explore some practical and pragmatic approaches.
Read more...
DavidSaint
David Saint
Feb 8, 2018, 10:41 AM
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Procurement Obscurement?

Does your Procurement Department always get you the best deal? We share some experiences of disastrous procurement processes – and one excellent one! 
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Feb 8, 2018, 10:41 AM
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Recruiting your first fundraiser

If your organisation is planning to employ a fundraiser for the first time, here are some essential things to do - and some things to avoid - to maximise the chances of success.
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FeliciaWillow
Felicia Willow
Feb 8, 2018, 10:41 AM
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Five Indications of Failing Trustee Boards

Poor trustees – always being bashed these days! But these observations, from an experienced governance consultant, will help trustees and Chief Executives take an objective look at how they are doing, and take some simple steps today that will help avoid problems tomorrow. 
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Dec 5, 2017, 10:41 AM
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Downloadable policies – just papering over the cracks?

In our increasingly complex society, we now need an astonishing array of policies to cover every conceivable (and occasionally inconceivable!) eventuality.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Dec 5, 2017, 10:41 AM
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How to recruit a Fundraising Director

In recent issues we have considered the best approach for recruiting trustees, and Chief Executives. Now it is the turn of the Fundraising Director.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Dec 5, 2017, 10:41 AM
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Simple Governance Review – here’s one I prepared earlier!

Andrew Betts, Director of Advantage Africa was very quick off the mark, by turning the piece in our last issue into a self-assessment questionnaire for his trustees.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Dec 5, 2017, 10:41 AM
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'Preference Diversity' The Essential Team Ingredient

First, what is diversity? Diversity is ‘the fact of many different types of things or people being included in something’. So how do we apply this when looking to build a successful team, or board of trustees? How do we know who to include?
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Dec 5, 2017, 10:41 AM
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How to Recruit a Chief Executive

We turn our attention to the recruitment of a Chief Executive. But surely recruitment is recruitment isn’t it? Well, yes and no. Some posts need to be handled in very particular ways – especially in the early stages.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Dec 5, 2017, 10:41 AM
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Governance – what could possibly go wrong?

The Charity Commission recently reviewed their ‘problem cases’, and came up with a list of the nine things that trustees most commonly don’t do, that could have prevented most of those cases happening at all
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Dec 5, 2017, 10:41 AM
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How to recruit trustees

Perhaps we should start with ‘how not to recruit trustees’ – because frankly the wrong way is the most common way, yet there are some very good reasons why it’s the wrong way.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Oct 3, 2017, 9:41 AM
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The £1.19m answer: Einstein’s Theory of Happiness

I was fascinated to read recently that Einstein’s ‘Theory of Happiness’ had been sold at auction for £1.19m. Spoiler alert – at the end of this piece I’m going to tell you what it is!
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KateNicholas
Kate
Oct 3, 2017, 9:41 AM
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Managing Reputation - Inoculating Against Crisis

It was Warren Buffet who once said “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it” – a statement that resonates more today than ever before; except these days when a damaging social media post can travel the world in a click of a mouse, it can only take five seconds.
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IanOReilly
Ian
Aug 30, 2017, 10:41 AM
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The Value of a Mentor

The most honest feedback I receive in life is after the final whistle is blown and I’m sitting in the pub with my mates.  For me, the feedback is often brutal as they take turns to analyse my football skills, detailing my ‘lack of pace’ in trying to keep up with the pacey 17-year-old...
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GavinSpencer
Gavin
Aug 30, 2017, 10:41 AM
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Challenge Events – An Antidote to GDPR - The Great Depression of People Raising (money)

Over the last few years I feel we have been in a ‘great depression’ within the charity sector. This has been fuelled by numerous negative media stories and more recently the introduction of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Aug 30, 2017, 10:41 AM
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CV Tips – From The Recruiter’s Perspective

Having recently read 79 applications for one role, and 6 for another, I have become a bit blasé about ‘passionate’, ‘committed’, ‘high achiever’, ‘driven’, ‘results orientated’ ….. you see the same words and phrases coming up again and again.
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TimGlynneJones
Tim Glynne-Jones
Aug 30, 2017, 10:41 AM
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Website woes? Here’s a solution

When it comes to publicising the work of your charity, a good website is essential. We hear from a lot of people who know this but feel hamstrung by cost, saying it will require £20k or more. Well, you might be encouraged to learn that our new website was designed, built and written for less than £10k.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Aug 30, 2017, 10:41 AM
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When the problem is having too much money

This may seem an extraordinary topic to explore in a charity sector newsletter, but over the past 12 months Action Planning has worked with at least 6 organisations for whom this was a significant issue.
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DaveTyler
Dave Tyler
Aug 30, 2017, 10:41 AM
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Project management? Never heard of it…

I’ve been a professional project manager for over 20 years and freelance for about 10.  Because of that, I take it for granted that ‘project management matters’ and assume that everyone feels the same way.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
Jul 12, 2017, 10:41 AM
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When is it the right time to do a capital appeal feasibility study?

An appeal for a major capital project is not an everyday occurrence for most organisations, and if this is outside the experience of all the key people (eg trustees, senior management team) it can be very difficult to know where to start.
Read more...