This Canadian city has eradicated homelessness


This is an amazing project, now here in the UK too.

Housing First is a homeless assistance approach  that prioritizes providing people experiencing homelessness with permanent housing as quickly as possible – and then providing voluntary supportive services as needed. This approach prioritizes client choice in both housing selection and in service participation.

Housing First programs share critical elements:

  • A focus on helping individuals and families access and sustain permanent rental housing as quickly as possible;
  • A variety of services delivered to promote housing stability and individual well-being on an as-needed and entirely voluntary basis; and
  • A standard lease agreement to housing – as opposed to mandated therapy or services compliance.

While all Housing First programs share these elements, program models vary significantly depending upon the population served. For people who have experienced chronic homelessness, long-term services and support may be needed.

For most people experiencing homelessness, however, such long-term services are not necessary. The vast majority of homeless individuals and families fall into homelessness after a housing or personal crisis. For these households, the Housing First approach provides them with short-term assistance to find permanent housing quickly and without conditions. In turn, such households often require only brief, if any, support or assistance to achieve housing stability and individual well-being.

Your website is an investment, not an expense

Did you know that nearly 75% of nonprofits with a website designed their site in-house, used a website solution that was free, donated by a volunteer or a public agency of some sort?

Think about what this means. Three quarters of all websites in the charity sector are done on the cheap. It’s all about doing more with less. We’ve heard this expression in the not-for-profit world many times — we have to “do more with less.” It’s like the mantra of our entire sector right?

But I’m here to tell you that your nonprofit website is not an expense; it’s an investment. And when you make an investment, your focus should not be on what you’re spending as much as it should be on your ROI, or return on investment. In the commercial world, ROI is what every decision is really based on.

If I spend $100, what am I going to get back? That’s the question ROI is concerned about. Am I’m going to get $200 back? $300? Or even $101?

There’s a huge difference in mentality and approach to decision making when you’re focused on ROI as opposed to cost. I know nonprofit organisations that have spent literally £50,000 or more on their websites— and had a huge return on investment because their donations increased, their fundraising capacity grew and some of their significant expenses decreased.

I know other nonprofits that have spent £500 or less and ended up throwing their money away. In the end, all they had was basically an online brochure with next to no functionality or ways to engage with constituents.

With your website, it’s not about how much money you spend; it’s about the ROI on your expenditure. Keep in mind that your website sits right at the centre of your marketing universe. Every marketing move you make leads back to your website, and the same is true for people connected to your organisation, from constituents to board members to volunteers.

Your website is the one place where you cannot afford to do more with less.

This article was originally published on 

“The White Helmets” took the Oscar for best documentary short!

Yes, “The White Helmets” took the Oscar for best documentary short! How brilliant is that?

Ok, I’ll briefly blow my own trumpet and mention that over the last few years I have been designing presentations for them. These are used by them to pitch to government bodies, media and celebrities in order to fundraise, and gain vital income that will allow them to carry on with their life-saving work.

But it is because of this work that I have got to know their cause very well, grown to understand what they do, and come to deeply respect how much they risk when going out into war-torn Syrian cities to save lives. The White Helmets are truly brave men and women!

Sadly the White Helmets could not attend the ceremony themselves:

When “The White Helmets” took the Oscar for best documentary short, filmmakers Joanna Natasegara and Orlando von Einsiedel read a statement from the film’s star, Syria Civil Defense head Raed Saleh, who was not present.

Watch the Oscar presentation on ABC News.



There may be trouble ahead…

It looks like charities are facing some immense challenges over the next few years. Commentators like Adrian Sargeant are predicting a £2 billion hole in charity income due to recommendations in the Etherington review, which is proposing changes on how charities can use donor data for fundraising.

But that’s not where the trouble stops. Let’s face it, the charity market is pretty crowded, with new charities popping up all the time. There are some 160,000 registered charitable organisations in the UK alone all vying for a relatively small pool of regular givers. Not that this makes challenging as it is. That pool of donors also gets targeted by the big fundraising events like Red Nose Day and Children in Need. For a bunch of nice people wanting to do good – competition is fierce.

In this crowded marketplace (after all, that is what it is) something will have to give. Will the bigger charities ‘eat up’ the smaller ones, similar to take-overs in the commercial world? Or will the smaller ones survive better as they appeal better to the next generation who prefer more direct engagement? After all, due to the scale of operations larger charities tend to  keep their supporter relationship at arm’s-length.

I suspect that size will not determine the survival chances of charities. People usually give to causes that are close to their hearts and that reflect their own, personal values in life. Which is why smaller, local charities (for example Sobell House) will continue to do well because of the local support they can tap into. As do those dealing with animal wellfare (Hearing Dogs for the Deaf). And, due to peopel’s personal experiences, health charities tend to benefit from generous donations (Cancer Research). Though some people also look at the bigger picture and like to support international development projects (Oxfam).

You could say that there is a charity for everybody. But… if you take a look a the list I mention above, and then google their specialist causes, you’ll find that for each one of them there are several charities doing pretty much the same thing or something similar. And that’s where things might get interesting. With increased competition for a dwindling pool of donors, will some of the weaker ones end up failing, as businesses would in the commercial world?

Talking about weaker charities failing , the last thing the charity sector needed was the collapse of Kids Company. It’s failure has revealed a sever lack of transparancy, accountability and professional management by some charities, adding another blow to donor confidence. It turns out that nearly a third of charities accounts filed with the Charity Commission are of ‘unacceptable quality’. With a tightening up of accounts requirements, this will probably mean Kids Company wont be the last failed charity we’ll be hearing about.

Not that there is a lack of other challenges to add to the list of challenges. Local government funding cuts could be a ‘silent killer’ for some small charities and leave them unable to compete with national organisations (though I’ll argue that people do like to support local causes). And then there are proposals to tighten up the definition of a charity shop, as well as new laws to tackle terrorism funding via charities, all of which is pretty confusing stuff, and confusing donors as to which charities are actually trustworthy and which aren’t. The result: a holding back on donations.

I could go on sounding a few more alarm bells. But there comes a point where it’s good to do a bit of a reality check.

Yes, “there may be trouble ahead…”, as the lyrics go, but we should also remember that the song goes on to say “let’s face the music and dance“.

Looking forward, I believe that all is possible. There are plenty of challenges ahead, but the best strategy is to face up to them. The focus will need to be on ‘upping the game’, to think smarter, and work on more integrated communications. This is the moment to make a big shift in how charities operate. Not-for-profits really need to start operating and thinking like businesses in the commercial world. Now surely is the time to rethink the sector’s communication strategy, and to invest in better marketing and donor recruitment.

Are you ready to face the music and dance?

If you would like to have a no-obligation talk about your organisation’s fundraising communications, you should give us a call on 0797 6012 820.

The impact of responsive design on online giving (Infographic)

An increasing number of charities and non-profits are recognising the advantages of updating their websites to responsive web design. This is because responsive sites provide an optimal viewing and interaction experience – easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling – across a wide range of devices, from desktop computer monitors to mobile phones. Which in turn helps generate a significantly better rate on converting a site visit into an action, whether signing a petition or making a donation.

According to Pew Research, 63% of adult cell owners use their phones to go online, as of May 2013, and 34% of cell internet users go online mostly using their phones, and not using some other device such as a desktop or laptop computer.

Not only is your audience accessing your website from their mobile device or tablet, they’re also giving more money on sites that are responsive. Blakcbaud determined this after they researched 105 small and mid-sized randomly selected nonprofits and conducted an analysis on almost 5,000 donations processed by Blackbaud’s Online Express between August 26th and October 25th of 2014.

Key findings from the research include:

> Donors were 34% more likely to make a gift after reaching a donation form when the website was responsive.
> The average gift size increased on responsive sites.
> Conversions were 59% higher for mobile donors one responsive websites.
> Of the 105 non-profits that npENGAGE evaluated manually, 42% had responsive sites. That’s only 56 organisations.

 Responsive design infographic

Dan Pallotta: The way we think about charity is dead wrong

Double standards drive our broken relationship to charities

Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend — not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses). In this bold talk, he says: Let’s change the way we think about changing the world.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center

What does it take to change the world? How can each of us make a difference?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center takes visitors of all ages on an interactive journey that brings to life the connections we share with others across the globe.

Explore inventions like a life-saving mosquito net, an ingenious personal water filter and a storage device that can keep vaccines cool for 30 days or more. Learn about the unprecedented effort to eradicate polio in our lifetime. Immerse yourself in debates about education, health and poverty – and decide your own priorities. Tell the world what your foundation would do.

Admission is free. Drop in any time the Gates Foundation Visitor Center is open, or request a free guided tour in advance. There is also a rich array of programs and community events, including family days, educator workshops, and student workshops.

The Gates Foundation Visitor Center is located across the street from Seattle Center – home of the Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass, EMP Museum, and Pacific Science Center.

440 Fifth Avenue North
Seattle, Washington 98109
(206) 709-3100 x7100

About the video: Health Beauty Life tours these magnificent facilities with guide Davida Ingram and learns how the Gates Foundation is tackling the biggest issues facing the world today.