Monday, April 7, 2008

I have been reading in the newspapers about the expenses MP's get. There are also lots of potential for scandals at LOcal Government level, as well. Most people have no idea how much money is wasted in employing consultants and paying their expenses. in our LOcal council I meet consultants all the time who are brought in to do a job that could easily be done by employees. as well as paying the consultants lots of money, the council often pays other costs such as putting some consultants up in LOcal hotels for sometimes months at a time. It is especially galling to see money wasted like this when so many small charities are able to provide so much with small amounts of money.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Well have just found out that we have enough funding for the next 12 months from April so that our charity will continue to exist. YEAH!!! We haven't got funding for all of our projects, but most of them. Funding is just getting harder and harder to get as many avenues of funding are closed of. For example, we used to get quite a bit of European funding but the UK gets hardly any funding now and very little that the voluntary sector can apply for. Although we get Lottery funding, thsi is also getting harder to get as there is less money around but the same or more organisations applying for it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cock Up

Well I have made my worst cock up ever. In the period before Christmas when I was runninga round like crazy trying to tie everything up I miscalculated the amount of money we had for a particular project. Because of this I hirted two part time staff before Xmas to work January to March. Got back to work in January and realised what I had done.

As a result I have tell them tomorrow that we are only going to employ them to the end of January. I've never cocked up like this before and I've been feeling really lousy the last few days. My chairperson has been great saying don't loose sleep over this, and everyone makes mistakes sometimes. It is great that he is being like this, but I still feel like a rotten manager.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Everyone seems to be ill at the moment - although most people are still struggling into work. The problem is that most projects only have one worker working on them and it is very difficult for anyone else to cover someone else's work. We take phone calls and cancel meetings when someone is off ill, but can rarely do anything more than that. I have felt really ill but I have had a couple of funding applications for posts that I have had to get in so on the days I felt worst I took the laptop home and worked on them from home.

Monday, November 19, 2007


I'm spending yet another day in the office completing grant applications. This is a very large part of my job. I have been fairly successful with it as I have doubled the number of staff in the charity over the last two years, but I still find it pretty boring and tedious to do.

Friday, November 16, 2007


I have just been on the phone to another manager of a small charity. She is pulling her hair out because of her Board. Her charity is run for the benefit of black and minority ethnic communities, and has managed to become an organisation that has a lot of influence with organisations such as the City Council.

Unfortunately her Board are fighting amongst themselves about what the staff should be arguing for. In particular there is fighting between different ethnicities who want the charity to be pushing for external funding to come mainly to the organisations that serve their community e.g. that available money should go to Pakistani voluntary groups instead of African Caribbean voluntary groups.

On top of that as a woman she is having a hard time from some Asian Board members who don't think a woman should be in that position of leadership. Unfortunately she is having to constantly manage all this conflict and this is taking her away from actually doing her job.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Local Council

Well we are off tonight to a meeting the local council has called. This is to give local people a 'chance' to give their views on the vision the local council should have for the future. Sounds good does it? I'm afraid not. The questions are the equivalent of 'do you think the council should increase recycling?' or 'do you think the council should improve local parks?'. So it ends up totally meaningless.

There is also a very small amount of time where local people are asked their opinion on more general questions in small groups with a Council staff member writing these points down on a flipchart. Staff at the Council have told us that if local people say anything that is not deemed 'pc' then they have been told to change it and write down a more 'pc' friendly version of what the person has said. Now I don't have any objection if people say something obviously racist for example, that this isn't written down, but this isn't what we are talking about here. We are talking about anything that may be seen as 'not the right thing to say' even if it is a real issue locally.

The staff I have spoken to aren't happy about this, but they have no choice. It just seems a recipe for encouraging racism, etc.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I found one of my staff in tears yesterday. She is doing a bit of work for another larger charity that we are getting paid for - its a way for us to earn some extra money. Unfortunately the worker she has been dealing with at the other charity has been extremely rude to her - mainly by email. You don't really expect people working in the charity world to behave like this, but unfortunately there are a number of people in charities around our City who have a reputation for behaving like this.

Unfortunately we can't really pull out of this piece of work now without causing problems for ourselves as I am sure the other charity would rubbish us locally. And being a larger and much better connected charity this would not be good for us. Also I am sure if we complained about this worker that could create problems for us. So instead we have made a decision that I will do all the communication with this rude worker. I shouldn't have to do this, but there seems no other way of tackling this without possibly causing us some problems. Luckily this extra piece of work should be finished soon.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


Meeting tonight with a group of volunteers to plan how we wil deliver a new project they are all keen to be involved in. A group of about seven of us will be meeting tonight in a pub to discuss this. I tend to work more evenings than I would ideally want to, but it really can't be avoided if you work with volunteers. Some of our volunteers don't work and thus are in the office during normal office hours, but some of our most skilled volunteers work during the day and are thus only available on evenings and weekends. Still at least the meeting is in a pub, which is rare. Normally my evening meetings are in a scruffy community centre meeting room.

Monday, October 22, 2007


In my charity we work a lot with other professionals. Sometimes this is great and together we achieve a lot, sometimes not. The worst group of people to work with I have found is GP's. Therea re some great ones out there, but certainly in the City I work in they are far and few between.

For example, I have in the past worked to set up a sexual health project for young people - we have a very high rate of sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy. In meetings with a number of GP's we would discuss how this project will work, the role they could play in referring young people to us, displaying publicity and inviting young people in for general health check ups. Time after time at the end of our speil about the benefits of the service the GP would say to us 'How do I get paid for this?' The money seemed to be uppermost in most GP's mind rather than the needs of the people they provide a service to.

Lots of GP's seem to see themselves as a small business first and a provider of services second. Some may say that this is how all self employed people see themselves. However in our work with small businesses, I have found many of them far more concerned about the issues in the local community, even when these have no direct impact on them, than GP's.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Just met with our Chairperson today about our funding for next year. At the moment we have lots of funding applications submitted to lots of funders, but as yet very little funding secured for next year. We met to look at whether we thought we could exist next year and we reckon even if we don't get any other funding in we could exist for another 6 months. After that we would fold. We would still have to next year make lots of our staff redundant, but that 6 months would give us a bit of breathing space at least.

It always amazes me when we talk to people at the council about how precarious our funding is and they are surprised. We operate so much on a hand to mouth basis from year to year that we are always vulnerable to folding. I envy charities that get a regular grant from the city council or are popular in the public's mind and get large donatiosn or bequests.

It is particularly galling that whether a charity gets government funding or not is as much to do with politics and who you know as how good a service you actually provide. Anyway I guess I shouldn't be too negative.

Thursday, September 20, 2007


I spend a lot of my time looking for funding. To keep our current work going I need to bring in around £360,000 a year - no small feat. There are basically 5 sources of funding.

First there is fundraising like sponsored walks, donations, etc. Charities like ours bring in very little of our money this way. When people make larger donations such as a legacy, it tends to be to larger high profile national charities like cancer charities, or charities that pull on your heartstrings such as the local hospice or project for disabled children.

The second source is the Government. We get very little from our local Council. Their budgets for grants to charities have been drastically cut over the years, so our local council generally only funds charities it has funded for years. Newer charities like ours can sometimes get small grants for particular projects, but not sunstantial grants to pay for staff salaries. We do get significant grants from Central Government. This is because we work in a disadvantaged area with lots of problems.

The third source is the Lottery. Here too we have been successful in getting grants. Fourthly there is funding frohe European Union that charities can apply for. We have some funding coming in this way. However, that source of funding is drying up. The kind of money we get goes to the most disadvantaged places in Europe. With the new countries joining taht are poor like Poland, lots of areas in Britain will no longer be eligible for this funding.

Fifthly we get grants from trusts. These are bodies set up be companies, families or private individuals to give grants to charities or individuals. They range from the local bank giving money for toys for a children's group to rich families giving millions to repair or conserve historic buildings.

However none of these places just give you money. You have to complete application forms and sometimes provide lots of extra information like policies and business plans. Most also insist that you achieve outputs for your funding. This might include the number of people who use your services, the hours you are open and measures of quality.