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Consultancy services for the charity and not for profit sector.  Strategy Development, fundraising, governance, collaborations and partnerships.

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Blog

Stay bang up to date with developments in the sector and our latest thinking on issues affecting charities and social enterprises.

Behavioural governance: what is it all about?

Julian Lomas

Since the financial crisis of 2008/9, the emphasis in governance debates has shifted from structural matters towards consideration of the impact of behaviour on the effectiveness of governance. Recen charity scandals show that the sector has no room for complacency in this regard. The July 2018 ICSA report Improving charity boardroom behaviours, builds on the  Charity Governance Code to provide detailed guidance on appropriate behaviours in the governance of charities.


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The importance of integration for mergers to succeed

Julian Lomas

Charity mergers are increasingly common, almost always good for beneficiaries and often a lifeline for one or more of the merging charities. But they can be complex and almost always run into challenges at some point, more often than not during the post-merger integration phase. This blog briefly explores the reasons why challenges arise in charity mergers and what can be done to avoid or manage those challenges more effectively.

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How charities can get the best results from crowdfunding

Julian Lomas

While crowdfunding has grown dramatically as a source of funding for businesses and individuals it hasn’t yet really taken off in the charity sector. This blog argues that this is because it hasn’t been used for the right causes or in the right ways and offers a few tips on how to run a successful crowdfunding campaign. While It isn’t a source of free money (there’s no such thing) I believe crowdfunding does have a place in charity fundraising.

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The ethics of fundraising from businesses

Julian Lomas

Receiving support from businesses can cause difficulties if the values or practices of the business conflict with those of your charity. Some charities will accept funding from any source on the basis that they can use it to do good. Most adopt an ethical stance and define the types of company they will not accept funding from. This blog provides a short introduction to how charities can navigate this minefield without it becoming all-consuming or bureaucratic.

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Using a Logic Model to structure impact assessment

Julian Lomas

Logic Models and Theory of Change can be powerful tools for structuring your charity’s impact story. Most small charities have good outputs data but do not have much evidence that their intervention or activity makes a positive difference to beneficiaries and almost none have evidence of impact beyond immediate beneficiaries. A simple logic model can help plug these gaps without excessive cost. At Almond Tree Strategic Consulting, we frequently use a Logic Model or Theory of Change as a simple framework for developing cost-effective impact assessment frameworks.

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Almond Tree Strategic Consulting: case studies

Julian Lomas

After more than a decade helping over 120 charities and social enterprises across the UK, we have published 5 case studies of our work, to celebrate the successes of five amazing clients and to help prospective clients get a practical understanding of the help we can offer. You can now read case studies on strategy development, fundraising and project managementgovernance reviews, charity mergers and charity incorporation.

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What affects public trust in charities?

Julian Lomas

The Charity Commission has just published the latest report in their series of independent studies exploring what aspects of public trust and confidence in charities. It makes interesting reading, not so much for what it says about levels of trust, but for its conclusions about the factors affecting public trust. There is a welcome emphasis on demonstrating impact but a worrying focus on showing that most of the money donated goes directly to the end cause, perpetuating the myth that charities can deliver high quality, safe and effective services on very thin (or even non-existent) overheads.

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Why we love small charities.

Julian Lomas

Most of our clients are small to medium-sized charities and we love working with them. They deliver huge benefits with very limited resources and we salute them for that. It’s not just saying this. The Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales has recently published independent evidence of the disproportionate value that small charities bring to society. The research, called The Value of Small, shows what many of us have known instinctively for years and we wanted to share it to help celebrate the amazing work that our clients and thousands of other smaller charities do every single day. Thank you to every one of you!

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Is earned income the way forward for your charity?

Julian Lomas

With rapid growth over the last 20 years in "earned income" as a source of funding, most charities should be thinking about growing earned income as an option to diversify their funding. But what is earned income? Is it really sustainable? Should your charity be looking to increase earned income? This blog briefly surveys some of the key issues for charities to explore when considering earned income ideas.

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Trustee duties: what risks are you running?

Julian Lomas

Being a charity trustee is a serious role, with important responsibilities.  It should not be entered into lightly, nor is it something to be scared of. If trustees act in good faith and do everything reasonable to comply with their legal duties, the risks are low.  But they do need to understand those duties. In some cases, trustees should consider changing the structure of their charity to reduce exposure to personal liabilities. This blog provides a high level overview of these issues to prompt trustees to think further about the risks they may be running.

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Why charities should consider merging

Julian Lomas

Forced mergers in the charity sector rarely end well. People can quickly get disillusioned and the benefits intended form the merger can evaporate quickly. But there are considerable advantages to mergers if they are done well on the basis of mutual trust and shared objectives. This post briefly explores why charities should consider merging.

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Why it's important to assess impact

Julian Lomas

Over the last decade charities have seen a dramatic increase in competition for funding and supporters. They need to make the case for funding and support more effectively, including by presenting evidence of the difference their services make. Just focussing on the needs they are addressing or the number of people they help isn’t sustainable in a world where public trust and confidence in charities is declining. This article makes the case that now is the time for charities to up their game on impact assessment

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Trustee disqualification rules are changing

Julian Lomas

From 1st August 2018, the rules on disqualification of charity trustees in England and Wales are changing.  There will be more automatic disqualifications and the rules will be extended to certain senior managers in charities. All charities need to update their trustee appointment processes, introduce similar checks and declarations for relevant senior managers/staff and make sure that existing trustees and relevant senior managers will not be disqualified after 1 August 2018.

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New Directions in Fundraising

Julian Lomas

With numerous scandals and bad publicity around charities and fundraising in the media over the last few years, the sector needs to change the way it thinks about supporters, offer more in return for their support and try new ways of engaging and motivating supporters, including thinking beyond money.

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GDPR: Don’t Panic!

Julian Lomas

GDPR comes into force on 25th May 2018 and has significant implications for how organisations use personal data and how they keep it secure.  I keep hearing (usually from those who only started preparing close to the implementation date) that it is a “nightmare” and I’ve seen lots of inaccurate information in the media. but my key message is: DON’T PANIC!

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Diversifying your charity’s income

Julian Lomas

Before the 2008 financial crisis public sector funding for the third sector (grants and contracts) had become so prevalent that many charities and social enterprises had, frankly, become overly reliant on funding from local and central government. It’s not surprising that a large number of charities and social enterprises I have worked with want to develop income diversification strategies.  This article reflects briefly on a few of the common issues I have encountered.

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Business planning: document or process?

Julian Lomas

For many organisations business planning is a dull chore undertaken because some management consultant said that you should have one (we have a lot to answer for!). However, the point of having a business plan is often to ensure shared understanding and buy-in. This makes the process of preparing a business plan far more important than producing a pretty, glossy document at the end of that process.

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