The free Charity Excellence Framework online toolkit begins scaling in the UK today (8 January) with the launch of a software upgrade that opens it up for use by micro charities for the first time.
With approximately 200,000 charities in the UK in this category (income under £10,000) the upgrade includes micro-charity specific issues, such as regulator and HMRC registration, and, to help with the Gov.UK online resources, a series of plain English guides. Other resources include fundraising guides, a list of 80 free funding finders and pre-researched funder lists for both small and unregistered charities, various charity sub-sectors and specialist areas, such as funding for core costs. Until now the smallest income band on the system was ‘Under £100,000’.
The Charity Excellence Framework (CEF) is free for all charities to use, and works on a login and start using it basis. According to developer Ian McClintock, set-up takes around two minutes. The toolkit creates a unique model for each nonprofit to help increase impact, financial resources and performance in all areas, based on size, location, role and activities, with eight diagnostic questionnaires and reporting via a dashboard that tracks more than 20 key metrics. Each of the eight questionnaires takes between 15 and 30 minutes to complete, with no charity or management knowledge required to use the system.
The micro-charity upgrade is the first of several taking place in 2020, which will run in parallel with the system’s UK scaling plan. The CEF toolkit is primarily intended for trustees and management, but in answer to requests the next software update, planned for spring 2020, will make the resource base available to everyone, and will also make it fully searchable.
There will also be upgrades in response to other user requests, including real time benchmarking against comparable charities. The Charity Sector Data Store, which aggregates the data collected through the CEF, already holds over 1500 completed questionnaires.
The biggest upgrade however will be the introduction of social franchising. This will enable large multi-site charities, as well as groups of small charities, to access the core system, and create and control new functionality. For example, enabling groups of charities to create specialist quality marks and large charities to create their own framework models, with their own dashboards. These will also be completely free to non-profit users.
The functionality and social franchising upgrades are due to launch this summer.
“Our smallest charities make up 40% of all UK non-profits, but accessing funding, support and resources can be hugely challenging for them – the new upgrade responds to these needs.
“Innovation and collaboration are critical opportunities in addressing the huge challenges we face and social franchising will enable charities, of all sizes, to do more of both by giving them access to and control of CEF core functionality, analytics and data – at no cost.”