Neil Poynton

Head of Charities
Charities Aid Foundation


Helpful tools and resources for smaller charities

This year’s Small Charity Week has prompted me to stand back, take a breath and applaud the tremendous work delivered by so many unsung heroes over the most challenging of times for us all.

I do not profess to believe all is back to normal, whatever that might be. It’s clear to me though that the contribution of smaller charities will remain vital and integral to a healthier, fairer society. Having shown an incredible resilience to adapt to new challenges, working collaboratively and sharing best practice and knowledge has never been so important to learn from each other.

Against this backdrop, I thought it helpful to signpost to free advice and resources that could be useful to you, if you’re running or governing a smaller charity.


Recruiting charity trustees

Any success is usually based upon sound foundations and this will always involve strong leadership and governance. The demands on trustees and management teams are immense. This can often lead to difficulties recruiting and retaining the people who drive the culture and mission that ultimately creates the greatest impact for beneficiaries. Here are some helpful guides on trustee recruitment:


Charity governance

From an organisation’s purpose, through establishing equality and diversity, to accountability and policies, strong governance is a crucial ingredient to success. Take a look at these helpful websites for insights on effective governance:

  • Charity Governance Code
  • Kent Good Governance Charity Forum, Brachers
  • Governing your organisation, NCVO


  • Applying for grants

    For many charities, having enough funds to meet the increased demand for their services has been a real obstacle to address. Grants in particular remain and will always be an important source of funding. Locating such sources is only part of the challenge, the other is presenting an application that resonates with the provider and illustrates the charity in its best light. Watch CAF’s Head of Programmes and Grant Making Programmes, Monica Brown, share her insights on this issue:

  • How to write a great grant application, CAF


    Finding grant funding

    As for the funds themselves, here is a selection of what is still available:

  • Latest coronavirus funding for charities, CAF


    Preventing fraud and financial scams

    A major threat that constantly seeks to identify weaknesses within an organisation is of course security and IT breaches such as fraud attacks. Sadly, like all organisations, charities are seen as targets by fraudsters. Having robust practices and systems to defend against such attempts is vital and need to be reviewed and adhered to at all times. Simple procedures like keeping PINs and passwords protected should be a given and be aware of more sophisticated attempts involving such things as social engineering. For more tips and guidance see:   

  • Staying safe and secure, CAF
  • Protecting your charity from social engineering, Charity Digital
  • National Cyber Security Centre’s Small Charity Guide


    Analysing and presenting your impact

    The pandemic has quite rightly highlighted the great work undertaken by the sector but we know that at the higher governmental echelons of society, full recognition of the sector’s contribution is sadly lacking. The impact of the sector’s work can often go unnoticed in times of “normality” and so keeping this on the agenda is crucial. Gathering a supporter base and demonstrating the impact a small charity makes can be hard work. However, shining a light on the tangible outcomes of all that hard work is crucial to truly understanding the value brought to the beneficiary base. Here are just a few resources available that may help with analysing and presenting your impact.

  • Impact measurement resources, Small Charities Coalition
  • Webinar series to help charities “build back better”, The Operational Research Society
  • Pro Bono case studies, The Operational Research Society

    The road ahead for us all is still uncertain and no doubt there will be things we did not see coming. However, I do hope all or at least some of these signposts serve you well.