How the Advice Services Transition Fund can help charities move forward in 2013

By Patrick Nash

With the deadline approaching for applications to the Advice Services Transition Fund, we suggest ways in which charities can use this lottery-funded grant to take their services and fundraising activities to the next level. 

The Advice Services Transition Fund (ASTF) is a grant worth between £50,000 and £350,000 aimed at not-for-profit partnerships and consortia providing advice services.

The fund has been commissioned by the National Lottery and the Cabinet in a bid to help charitable organisations work more collaboratively together to build sustainability and effectiveness, whilst also taking early action to prevent the issues that cause people to seek help and advice.

Up to 25 per cent of the grant can be used for direct service delivery, meaning the continuation of current services or the introduction of new service channels.

Here we suggest some opportunities for effective use of this grant funding in order to help your charity or not-for-profit organisation fulfil its potential and maximise its impact on service users.

Invest in writing a business plan including fundraising

So many small charities and non-profit organisations operate without a proper business plan in place – and although they are not in it to make money – this can be a risky approach, even for the most successful of organisations.

Spending time and effort on establishing your organisational goals  – based on the needs of the charity – will put you on the right track for raising funds.

Once the goal of the organisation has been established, a key message aligned with this goal then needs to be developed, followed by a detailed tactical plan of implementation along with measurable impact targets.

This funding can help you employ external consultants with the expertise to help put measures into place – ensuring that partnerships and your improved services are sustained beyond the life of the grant funding and into the long-term.

Further training for staff / volunteers

Instead of wasting money on recruitment fees, re-investing in training and losing hours of management time – all downsides of a high staff turnover rate – why not invest further in your current people and reap the benefits?

Improving the skills and efficiency of your existing staff and volunteers boosts productivity and innovation – both key to any charity’s future development.

Training also increases staff retention and therefore loyalty to the organisation.

This funding can help you develop a comprehensive training plan for your team and put it into place. Specialist staff development experts with a track record in the charitable sector, and a strong understanding of the issues it faces, can help.

Digital services

Digital services are not for every charity – but for many, creating an online social presence can be a very cost effective way of, firstly, spreading a charity’s mission and messages, and secondly, monitoring the needs of target users.

Software is available that helps charities to proactively seek out potential users using sophisticated but user-friendly monitoring techniques to identify potential beneficiaries before people actively seek solutions.

Furthermore, it also provides an accessible platform to help the charity be contactable 24/7, to allow for online self-help, and can also provide forums in which users can provide peer-to-peer support.

The Advice Services Transition Fund can help to pay for consultancy advice on how to set digital services, and also to pay for partnerships to be set up in which digital services can be outsourced.

With these hints and tips, you can increase the fundraising potential of your charity or not-for-profit organisation and benefit from investment in your services.

One thought on “How the Advice Services Transition Fund can help charities move forward in 2013

  1. My charity, Management Strategies for Africa, is Africa-led and managed, based in London with Country Offices in Accra (Ghana), Abuja (Nigeria), and Dar es Salaam (Tanzania). The purpose of MSA is to advocate and support organizational capacity development for stronger institutional and programming effectiveness of social sector development organizations and interventions. I realize that the deadline for the Big Lottery funding opportunity has passed but I thought I would send this email anyway, to connect with you and for future opportunities with and other than Big Lottery.

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