As readers of the CRM blog will know, we are ardently committed to our charity work (see last month’s article). We are delighted to extend our support of local charities still further through our charity sector specialist accountant Roger Allum taking on the role of Treasurer for Flo’s, the community organisation for people in East Oxford to meet, work, play, learn and eat.

Roger lived in East Oxford for several years so is familiar with the ‘Place in the Park’ and its importance for local residents of Cowley and Florence Park. He was only too pleased to be able to combine his accountancy skills and charity sector expertise as part of CRM’s employee volunteering scheme whereby staff can use three working hours per month to help charities.

“It’s so rewarding to use my work volunteering time to attend Flo’s board meetings during office hours and assist with the tricky financial reporting and compliance that charities must carry out,” said Roger. “Flo’s is a unique co-operative organisation that has community shareholders – a transferable model that the team hope to make available for similar organisations to use.”

As a charity specialist, Roger keeps an eye on the sector and how charities are doing. “There’s no doubt that smaller charities are feeling the pinch at the moment,” he said. “It’s as much about losing their presence and visibility as about the loss of income during these difficult times. Like other charities, Flo’s took the opportunity to use their cafe kitchen to make and distribute meals during lockdown, but not all charities can adapt like that.”

The loss of larger local events, like the Oxford Half Marathon, had a big impact on charities that rely on them for fundraising. We asked Roger for the top three pieces of advice that he offers to charity clients:

  1. Try to broaden your funding sources so that you aren’t reliant on just one or two income streams. Widen the search for other grants and funding wherever possible.
  2. Invest time in good forward planning to make sure that you spread the load when funds reduce. Make sure you’re aware of all the grants and funds that are available to your charity. Check out lottery funding and there may be emergency funding available here.
  3. Maintain a strong online presence with regular website updates and social media channels so that you can let people know what you’re doing and what you need. With everyone’s finances tight at the moment, be creative with how you request donations, for instance, ask supporters to set up a JustGiving page to receive birthday donations instead of gifts.

If your charity needs assistance with the layers of bureaucracy around SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice), Charity Commission reviews and regulations or meeting the criteria of grants and funds, please get in touch with Roger Allum at CRM for specialist knowledge and advice on 01865 379272.

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