No-cost and low-cost
Ever wondered what a CEO of a mediumish sized charity does all day?
What’s that I hear you say?
Oh - you actually have a life and don’t wonder about such things at all.
Ah well – as one of the things I have on my list to do today is write the first in a series of blogs for our newly launched website (courtesy of our web consultants at Xebre – I am going to tell you anyway!)
I can’t of course speak for all charity CEOs but much of my day is spent either trying very hard indeed to persuade people to part with their money or trying very hard indeed to persuade people to part with their time.
Much of the rest of the day is spent being inordinately grateful when they do.
In between that (for which read - evenings, weekends, overnight and at sparrow pip in the morning when the rest of the world sleeps (apart from the hard working Rose Road night staff!!!)) I might be unpicking a health and safety breach, delivering some training, managing some HR stuff, writing a regulatory report, juggling some numbers to make budgets add up and persuading sales people that their shiny new phone system/IT platform/equipment/bird box is not only beyond our wherewithal but also grossly over-priced for a care organisation such as us.
Ever noticed that you slap the word ‘disability’ onto a product and it increases in price?
Ah madam – you require a soap dish – here is a lovely soap dish - £8.50.
Oh you require a soap dish for someone with a disability – I have just the thing madam £149.12.
And rather than the pretty blue colour with flowers on it, it comes in disability friendly shades of grey or beige.
I exaggerate to make a point.
But not a lot.
So back to gifts of time or money.
We have a range of income streams from donors, funders, private payments and commissioners.
So far we have managed to make ends meet – without any one of these it would not be possible.
Sometimes we are stretched at the seams and something has to give – do we really need to replace the microwave or can we be creative with cold meals until next financial year.
Let’s go on a visit to the beach!
Let’s not go on a visit to the beach – the fuel card has run out for this month – where’s that play sand, a few buckets of water and the handful of shells we collected last time.
Sides to middle with the bed sheets sometimes (ask someone older than you if you have no idea what I am talking about) and pretending that an excel spreadsheet can do everything that an upmarket CRM system can do – it just takes a bit of creativity and application.
And the website – always last on the list of things to invest in but first in terms of our interface with the rest of the world. You are reading it after all….(thanks to Xebre!)
Some of our most powerful donations are gifts in kind or gifts of time – for example, the discount we get on our laundry service, the free vehicle servicing that we sometimes benefit from, the CCTV that our kind friends put in for us after our vandalism, the car our donor bought for us when our old one fell apart, the fact that this brand new website has been created for us by Xebre at no additional cost, corporate organisations that come in and tidy our gardens and clean our cars and minibuses, our volunteer fundraisers and ‘friends of Rose Road’ group who work tirelessly to plan and run events for us, Dave on reception, our Family Services volunteers, our Parent Carer Forums, Marie who packages up our Christmas Cards, Mary who designed them for us, Andy who provides business know-how and a sounding board, Chris who is doing some finance work for us, Nick who has given us free legal support, Bruce who is a huge corporate champion, Mike who makes all of our events sparkly and polished, our Trustees – so, so much free time and support given generously (and there are many more to add to this list – we are grateful to all of you).
We can’t thank people enough, and we don’t thank people enough, for what they do for us. We are too busy being swallowed up by the writing of reports, the crunching of numbers, the necessity for policies on how and when and with what protective clothing to blow our charitable noses, the minute taking and recording, the responding to urgent need, the comforting, the consoling and the supporting.
But we are incredibly grateful for the difference these people and companies make to the lives of our young people and our staff.
And did I say thank you to Xebre for our new website?
It’s nice to be talking to you – email me if you want to know anything about us and I will respond - or I may use your question as the basis for my next blog as no doubt I shall be writing it short of ideas and bleary eyed as dawn steals across a soap dish grey sky.