• 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.

FeliciaWillow
Felicia Willow
9 Oct 2018, 08:00
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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
9 Oct 2018, 08:00
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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
9 Oct 2018, 08:00
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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.
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LaylaMoosavi
13 Sep 2018, 08:00
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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.
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SallyDenbigh
Sally Denbigh
9 Aug 2018, 08:00
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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
9 Aug 2018, 08:00
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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
12 Jul 2017, 10:41
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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
5 Jul 2018, 10:41
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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
12 Jul 2017, 10:41
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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
12 Jul 2017, 10:41
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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
21 Mar 2018, 10:41
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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
14 Mar 2018, 10:41
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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
14 Mar 2018, 10:41
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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
8 Feb 2018, 10:41
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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
8 Feb 2018, 10:41
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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.
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DavidSaint
David Saint
8 Feb 2018, 10:41
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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
8 Feb 2018, 10:41
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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
8 Feb 2018, 10:41
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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
5 Dec 2017, 10:41
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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
5 Dec 2017, 10:41
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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
5 Dec 2017, 10:41
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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
5 Dec 2017, 10:41
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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
5 Dec 2017, 10:41
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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
5 Dec 2017, 10:41
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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
5 Dec 2017, 10:41
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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
3 Oct 2017, 09:41
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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
3 Oct 2017, 09:41
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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
30 Aug 2017, 10:41
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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
30 Aug 2017, 10:41
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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
30 Aug 2017, 10:41
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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
30 Aug 2017, 10:41
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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
30 Aug 2017, 10:41
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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
30 Aug 2017, 10:41
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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
12 Jul 2017, 10:41
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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.
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