I’m really pleased to share the work I and my wonderful colleagues have done to support individuals, communities and organisations last year. The Dudley CVS Annual Report outlines how we’ve been connecting and inspiring people and organisations to achieve positive change and championing their work. It covers the year April 2014-March 2015.
state of sector
A fireside chat and five priorities
On Tuesday I went along to a Fireside Chat* with Joel Gascoigne, co-founder and CEO at Buffer. Buffer is a really handy software application which you can use for free to schedule posts to social media accounts in Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. Joel studied in the West Midlands at the University of Warwick, and Buffer was developed and launched in 2010 while he lived in Digbeth, Birmingham. The co-founders moved to Silicon Valley in 2011 and have always been the subject of much interest and attention because of their radically open and transparent business practices.
Buffer made the salary calculations and salaries of each team member public and openly publish revenues from their paid for products. They are fully transparent with email (all team members can see all emails) and they have introduced transparent pricing so you see where every penny (or cent) goes if you subscribe to a paid plan. In Buffer one of their values is default to transparency.
I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Joel share his story and respond to questions which were submitted through twitter. And it got me thinking about what we’re sharing about Dudley CVS. Then I realised we haven’t really talked much about some priorities we’ve developed this year, and now is a great time to share them here because we have just started getting together as staff and board members to take each of them forward.
Our priorities have been shaped in response to what we heard from our sector in a survey we carried out late last year (Kate shared the findings in this post) and also give focus to key areas of activity we have been developing. Here is a run down of our 5 priorities.
Championing Dudley CVS and the sector
Our survey told us that the top request in relation to support we should offer over the next year was raising the profile of the voluntary and community sector. A group of Dudley CVS staff and trustees met last week to begin collective work around this priority, so you’ll soon be seeing a growing offer to groups and organisations around this. Do get in touch with Becky (email@example.com) if you have skills or ideas to contribute to our work around this.
Enabling and promoting innovation, transformation and sustainability
Our survey also highlighted that people want support in relation to:
- identifying gaps in local provision, working with new and existing groups to address unmet needs in communities
- developing groups and organisations
- ways to diversity income streams
- innovation and transformation
- advocacy and leadership of the voluntary and community sector
While we offer support around these areas already, we think there will be some value in us offering a programme of support which people can access in different ways. A group of Dudley CVS staff and trustees met last week and discussed some initial ideas, the next step is to involve people from local groups and organisations in shaping the programme. If you’d like to make suggestions please add a comment to this post, if would like to join an informal ideas session in September please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Supporting and enabling collaboration in Dudley borough
Ranked fourth in the list of support people want us to offer is supporting and enabling networking and collaboration. And ranked third is creating the conditions for our sector to influence. A group of our staff and trustees will be reviewing pervious and current work around this and shaping what we can do in the next 12 months. I have already been sharing some examples of activity over the last few years and thinking on collaborative practices on the CoLab Dudley blog. We’ll keep you updated on the work of the group looking at this priority, our first meeting will be next month.
Collaborating and demonstrating impact (using PSIAMS)
Dudley CVS and a number of voluntary organisations in the borough are changing their approach to working with people, and using a tool called PSIAMS to help them manage relationships, communicate and collaborate within and across teams, and to measure the impact and value of their work. We already have a great team supporting the use of the approach and software (Mark Ellerby from Cloudberry, plus Dudley CVS officers James Baggot and Adam Deyes). There will also be a trustee and staff group working on ways that our sector can collaborate and demonstrate impact.
Ensuring use of our venues benefits local communities
Over the last few years Dudley Council has been working with Dudley CVS to explore ways to make the most of the council’s underused buildings and land in a challenging climate and safeguard them (or even unlock them) for community use. Asset transfer was a option for one building we looked at, a management move was an option in another. The council is continuing to develop and test new processes which involve community-based organisations taking on facilities. The initial steps with us should help to set the tone and ease this transition for other facilities and organisations.
Dudley CVS are now managing Brierley Hill Civic, and we have staff and a Lunch on the Run cafe moving in to a building on Stafford Street in Dudley Town Centre (the name of the building will be revealed shortly). It is really important to us that we both show that we can make a financial success of such ventures, and that we can do that in ways which support, connect and benefit local communities, groups, clubs and societies, as well as our sector more widely. We have a group of trustees and staff with a diversity of skills and connections who will give time to making ensuring we achieve this.
Do leave a comment or get in touch if you have any thoughts on any of our priorities, and please do share links to information about what your group or organisation is currently focusing on. We’d love to hear about it!
For anyone interested in the Buffer event, I’ve archived some useful links, tweets and pictures from the Fireside Chat here.
*Fireside Chats were a series of radio addresses given by President Franklin Roosevelt and the contemporary spin on this at the event I went to was a backdrop of a 3 hour You Tube fireplace video screened for the entire duration of the talk. It was nearly as mesmerising as a real fire!
As you have no doubt spotted by now, we are celebrating Small Charity Week in Dudley borough and we have plans for all sorts of support and discussion opportunities both face to face and online. I’ve offered to collect and share ideas, stories and top tips for Policy and Influence day (Wednesday 17 June).
In our most recent survey of our sector the third most important area of support organisations and groups said they want Dudley CVS to provide is creating the conditions for the sector to influence local policy and planning, be engaged, represented and involved in local decision making bodies. Also making it on to the top 10 priorities was support to the sector to campaign for social change.
As the Small Charity Week website points out: small charities are the centre of civil society. In the UK 97% of charities have an annual turnover of less than £1.5 million but in terms of impact on local communities here and across the globe their contribution is phenomenal. It is important therefore that the voices of small charities are heard.
Some of the ways Dudley CVS helps small charities to be heard is by:
- supporting networks which bring together and amplify the voices of small charities
- working with small charities to get press coverage
- giving staff time to support small groups at social media surgeries so that they can communicate and connect online using free tools
- representing small charities and the wider sector on a range of strategic boards
We’d love to hear from local small charities about your…
- success stories – what or who have you influenced and how?
- learning – what worked and what didn’t in your efforts to influence?
- top tips for other small charities who want to influence policy and have their voice heard
Just leave us a comment below or reply on Facebook or Twitter.
And in the meantime, here is a brief but very useful piece of advice about influencing decision-makers on the Campaign Central site. Let us know what you think of it.
State of the sector – key findings from survey and discussions
In December 2014, Dudley CVS carried out a state of the sector online survey. The time felt right for Dudley CVS to explore:
- The contribution being made by the voluntary and community sector
- The future support needs and priorities of voluntary and community sector organisations
- The impact of the financial economy on the voluntary sector
Once the findings were collected, NAVCA, our National body, helped Dudley CVS to analyse the results. Caroline Beavon then helped us to produce a colourful infographic poster as a creative way to share the findings with the voluntary sector and partners across Dudley borough. You can view the infographic report here: http://issuu.com/dcvs/docs/sots_-_v9/1
On 24th March, a CoLab enquiry session was held to explore further the results with voluntary sector groups and to dig deeper into the findings.
The survey was divided into the following three categories:
- Demographic data of respondents
- The state of the sector today in terms of demand for services, income, funding, impact, quality and difference
- Focus on the future in terms of priorities, support needs, challenges, hopes and fears
This report presents more detail on findings from our survey and outcomes from discussions held on 24th March with voluntary and community sector organisations and partners. To view the report click on the link below: