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Sally  Sally Young, Chief Executive

Should I stay or should I go? This isn’t just a great song by The Clash but a genuine dilemma that leaders will face throughout their career.

Sometimes there’s an external pull - that other job you have always wanted or an internal push - you and your Chair REALLY don’t get on or there are major problems you genuinely can’t resolve at work. Of course there is also real life - birth, bereavement, divorce / separation / relationships and illness - which often makes us review our priorities. But what if everything is going well - supportive Board, finances and operations in order and it feels right? When is too long, too long?

I’ve often thought seven years in a Chief Executive role was the optimum - you are there long enough to understand the organisation and the role, change and deliver what’s needed, but recognise you can leave without the organisation being restricted to your style. Also I like a challenge and a change - but not everyone feels like that. However I have seen some great leaders who have been there for over twenty years and they continue to inspire and keep fresh and have lots of ideas - but often they are memorable because they are the exceptions.

Jack  Jack Summerside, Infrastructure Officer

The first paragraph of this article was originally published in Autumn Inform magazine

Last year, I wrote about how presenting something as simple as a lunch club more clearly in terms of its social impact could make it more attractive and relevant to funders. If you’re a smaller or more generalist voluntary organisation, the chances are you don’t fully highlight the value of what you offer in terms of improving the health and wellbeing of the communities you serve. Why not try stepping back from what you currently offer and think about what health impact it has on current users? Who could benefit from it further, and what new doors might open if you presented the offer differently? Even if you do not find any indirect health benefits in the work you do, is there an opportunity to share health messages to your beneficiaries?

Sally  Sally Young, Chief Executive 

In summer 2018, I was asked by the Newcastle Voluntary Sector Liaison Group to provide a paper around food poverty in Newcastle. Newcastle City Council had done a significant amount of work in relation to their response to the impact of Welfare Reforms. Newcastle was the first city in the UK to experience full service Universal Credit.

I wanted to do a paper that provided a nuanced approach; not just refer to the well-known West End Foodbank, which is the largest in the UK and the well-respected People’s Kitchen which has been active for over thirty years, but how other organisations approached the obvious rise in food poverty. Also, and indeed more importantly, how did food poverty affect people and particular communities?

Amy sml Amy McKie, Marketing and Communications Officer

Earlier this year the Lloyds Bank UK Digital Index 2017 reported that 100,000 charities are lacking basic digital skills. This is a huge missed opportunity for those charities to increase their online presence, improve efficiency within their organisations and increase their turnover. The study found that charities using social media are 51% more likely to report an increase in donations, and that ‘highly digital’ charities are ten times more likely to save costs. The Charity Digital Code was released in November and aims to tackle some of these issues with a set of guidelines for small and large charities.

Amy sml Amy McKie, Marketing and Communications Officer

Should I consider crowdfunding my project / idea? With the availability of grant funding dwindling, many charitable organisations are considering alternative routes to generate funds. Crowdfunding has become a widespread approach in recent years, enabled by clever online platforms and digital campaigns. Crowdfunding is not, however, a new concept (records of crowdfunding date back to the 1700s!) and crowdfunding should not rely on digital campaigns and individual pledges alone.

Sally  Sally Young, Chief Executive 

A few years ago I was accused by a well-respected commentator on the voluntary sector of ‘crying wolf’. I had predicted the closure of some local charities because of austerity. I reflected that maybe my perspective was disproportionately negative as CVS often supports organisations in difficulties.

 IMG6683a Pam Jobbins - Policy Officer

Dismayed by the increase in racist, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic attacks after the 2016 EU Brexit vote, Advocacy Centre North and Newcastle CVS staff, volunteers and trustees joined NCVO and others in sending a message of support from the voluntary sector to those that might feel unsafe or unwelcome. The poster of signatures, #welcomehere, is still displayed in the reception area of our office. For Welcome Here, our latest report, I asked voluntary and community organisations about the issues facing the Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities that they work with, and sought out vignettes of the outstanding work that they are doing.

Martin Martin Gollan, Support and Development Manager

By quite some measure most the 166,000 plus voluntary sector organisations in the UK have little or nothing to do with delivery of public sector contracts. NCVOs Civil Society Almanac 2018 tell us that of the £15.3 billion in 2015/16 that went from the public sector to voluntary organisations most of it went to organisations with an annual income of £10 million or more. These charities make up a mere 0.43% of the total voluntary sector.

Delivery of public sector services might appear from these figures to be something of a minority pursuit and therefore unimportant to the rest of the voluntary sector. Except it’s the largest voluntary organisations that are most visible in the public eye and that when things go wrong can quickly easily find themselves under the media spotlight.

Martin Martin Gollan, Support and Development manager

Last night the North East Together Network held yet another interesting and thought provoking event, this one on the future of volunteering.

The evening’s key note speaker, George Thomson CEO of Volunteer Scotland, set us off with a series of reflections, ideas and actions arising from a ten week study leave taken last summer. During his ten weeks, George travelled up and down the UK from Bo’ness to Oxford by way of Sunderland, Liverpool and all points in-between.

His journey brought him into contact with a wide array of academics, voluntary sector leaders and others as he deliberated the meaning of public value and its connection to volunteering, community spirit and grassroots leadership.

Sally  Sally Young, Chief Executive 

For the last eight years I have been asking local voluntary and community organisations their views on how life is for them and for the people and communities they support.

I’ve just written up the report (GaN Canny 2018) after 168 organisations responded from Gateshead and Newcastle. It is both uplifting and bleak.

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