Charity Excellence is a free one-stop-shop for anything a charity needs - 46% of its tens of thousands of users rate its 8 online health checks, huge information hub and interactive dashboard, and Funding Finder, Help Finder and Data Finder directories 10/10. It enables you to assess any area of activity quickly and easily and be connected to a huge network of grant funding, pro bono support, and free resources, products and services, with charity input aggregated anonymously to create Big Data for the charity sector.
"asks questions that make you think, .....and, crucially, provides resources to support the charity's continued drive for excellence. I recommend it to all charities". The Bumblebee Conservation Trust
With 40,000 members (Jan 23), growing at arate of 2000 a month, we are now the largest and fastest growing UK charity community: nearly half rate us 10/10.
In 2021, CEF charities supported 6 million beneficiaries and this year that number will be very significantly higher. All credit for that is due to the charities themselves, not us, but supporting beneficiaries is what the sector exists to do, so that number is a key target for us. Another is 100,000 members. The CEF was built to deliver systemic change and our best guess is that this is the minimum number to begin doing so.
That's our target for end 2024. Despite our very rapid growth in members that'll be a huge challenge but with our stretgic deployment of AI through '23 and into 2024 and, if we secure funding to do so, the other strategic deployment to create up to 100 CEF make it potentially achievable.
There aren’t nearly enough resources and probably never will be, so we will exploit the sector's collective expertise, technology and data to create a charity eco system that will enable the sector to deliver the maximum impact possible, using the limited resources it does have. Our #SurviveAndThrive campaign has been our most ambitious increase in capabilities ever and is providing an immediate response to the crisis, which we will then build on in 2023 and 2024 to not only provide ever greater and more effective support to all UK charities, but also deliver increasingly valuable data for sector level decision makers.
The way in which we will do that is to bring partners' functionality into the eco system and also 'outsource' ownership of key elements of the CEF functionality to them using our social franchising framework. The charity, supported by a sector strategic leadership group, will manage the social franchising network and develop our strategy.
Web based and scaleable at low cost and, with the charity remaining very small, longer term costs are estimated to be £170k pa. This will be funded by a small contribution by very large group users, sponsorship, advertising and other income. That is projected to generate revenue far in excess of our needs.
User input is anonymously aggregated into its Sector Data Store, which enables every aspect of performance to be analysed in-depth, in near real-time and historically.
The CEF tracks 529 metrics, of which 174 are at red or amber (1 Nov 22), offering us the opportunity to target our limited resources to maximum effect. The interactive dashboard displays 21 top level metrics, including impact, resilience, sustainability and keeping people safe from harm. It also has sub models that assess issues, such as diversity, wellbeing and innovation.
The data store already has more than 0.3 million scored assessment statements . Big Data for the charity sector – a growing, consistently collected and objective data set that covers every area of activity. Here's an example of how we used that to support charities during the Covid crisis.
From the outset of the crisis in March 2020, Covid statements and resources were created and continuously updated. This enabled CEF charities to easily identify key priorities, then access the specific resources and support they needed. The data store tracked how well they were responding and identified problem areas, so that new toolkits and resources could be uploaded, enabling them to respond quickly and effectively to the rapidly escalating crisis. The initial 5 toolkits and Covid funder list were accessed more than 38,000 times.
“Undoubtedly, we would not still be here without this brilliant resource. For smaller charities you are an absolute lifeline”.
Federation of Disability Sport Organisations
Our crisis response is our most ambitious ever step change in the free support we provide and also in the numbers we provide that support to. It includes:
There isn't enough funding and there may never be, but our people and the sector's collective expertise are a huge asset. Our work has created a charity sector eco system which exploits that. This has extended the groups we support from primarily trustees and senior management to any of the 1 million staff and 10 million volunteers, and Government and university staff involved in the sector.
In 2021, our charities supported an estimated 6 million beneficiaries. By end 2022, we will have nearly doubled our membership and made our support available to five times as many people.
The lack of effective data is now being recognised as a major weakness for the sector. The CEF Charity Data Store already has 0.3 million pieces of data, but Covid aside, we don't have the capacity, specialist skills or ability to reach decision makers, such as Government. Big Data for the charity sector is here but we're not yet able to fully exploit it. Consequently, we will transfer ownership of the CEF to the wider sector by giving the system to those who do.
We will give large and groups of charities and grant makers their own CEFs and create lead data set owners for each charity sub sector. Not one, but potentially up to 100 CEFs, creating a single comprehensive, consistently collected and objective network of UK charity sector data sets able to track performance in real time and historically. The functionality is live, and 2 pilots are being run and we have also created functionality that enables access to the entire sector data set.
This will provide the data to enable senior sector leaders to not only better support their own groups of charities but also inform policy and decision making at sector level. Again, using technology, data and the sector's collective expertise to significantly increase our ability to make effective use of our limited resources.
The CEF Data Store allows us to understand for the first time what is really happening in the sector and to identify historic trends, but it can't look ahead. However, harnessing the Data Store to open-source libraries would allow us to apply AI predictive analytics to create a forward view of what the future for the sector might look like and, in doing so, deliver far more effective data for sector decision makers.
Our developers are experts in this field and our scenario planning, and the new Data Finder are our first steps in beginning to explore this opportunity. Delivering this will take charity sector leadership and decision making to the cutting edge of using AI technology, to maximise impact by making the very best possible use of our limited resources.
Increasing Your Impact The dashboard Impact score reports how effectively you are maximising the impact you could have and identifies opportunities to achieve even more.
All was really thought out well, massive impact.
Increasing Your Funding The system’s Big Data shows that charities report managing fundraising to be their weakest performing of the 21 dashboard results - a huge missed opportunity. Assess your fundraising online in 30 minutes, with access to all the fundraising resources, including its 50+ downloadable funder lists. Plus, its unique funding Finder database links you to 100s of other free funder databases and online funder lists, giving you click through to a huge range of funders; more than any other system. But, it does more than that. Run ‘tax reliefs’ in the query system to find all those you’re not claiming (yet) and the CEF also links you to 100s of organisations that provide free goods and pro bono services.
An incredibly useful tool to broaden our search for funders during these challenging times. ...having a free resource like this available to us is a game changer.
Providing Assurance Even the smallest charity carries out a whole range of activities and we’re subject to a wide range of laws and regulations. You can’t be an expert in everything, but you don’t need to be, because the CEF enables you to quickly assess every area. It also assesses how well you keep beneficiaries, staff and volunteers safe from harm. Not only safeguarding, but also H&SW, data protection, discrimination and bullying.
CEF is a brilliant "everything in one place" help, for charity, their trustees, staff and volunteers, whether you need 'beginners level' or 'advanced'.
Yes – it creates a unique set of questionnaires based on the individual needs of each user, including micro-charities, CICs and schools, and requires no expertise or training to use
Thought provoking and superb resources. Sunnyside Community
The 8 questionnaires enable you to assess every area of activity. These are strategy, governance, income generation, risk, people, operations, finance & resources and communications. These enable you to ask and answer all the questions you need to, including those you may not know about.
"The questionnaire identified issues I had never even considered”. Endcliffe Playgroup
Rate each questionnaire statement using a simple 5 star rating, then click next. That’s all you have to do. You can health check your whole charity in half-a-day.
'The questions were very clear and helpful to understand the gaps and areas where we need to concentrate more’. MumsAid
|Criteria||1 star||5 star|
|Achievement||Poor, or not at all||We meet all aspects of the statement|
|Importance||Of little, or no importance||Critical, or extremely important|
Jargon free descriptions of all aspects of performance – the resources available, activities undertaken, what these produce, the outcomes delivered, the impact created, and the overarching management and planning systems.
‘Questions were very clear and easy to understand’ Justice is Now
We have very few resources, but one huge asset – our people, and they are the key to driving improved performance. It assess key issues, such as leadership, innovation, wellbeing, culture and decision making, by taking into account not only what is done, but who does it, how well, their capacity and expertise, and how motivated they are in doing so.
Usually between 10 and 40, depending on the questionnaire, and your charity’s size, sector, where it operates and the activities it undertakes.
There are 3 top-level dials, with 21 key areas of activity analysed in the tables below. Results are colour coded, so you can see at a glance where there is most scope to achieve more. Click any number to run a detailed report and access the huge resource base - it’s no more than 2 clicks to everything.
"The most concise yet simplistic Business Intelligence dashboard for Board and Charity leaders. Indispensable!" Bike for Good
The Governance & Leadership table displays the Charity Governance Code section headings, but the analysis works for any governance code.
The Questionnaires table displays the results of 7 questionnaires. The income questionnaire results are in the Critical Health Check table.
The Critical Health Check enables you to easily identify any critical issues, so you can respond quickly to safeguard your charity. You can also use this to provide assurance to funders and others that your charity is well run.
At the bottom of your dashboard, this shows your progress towards achieving the Charity Excellence Quality Mark.
The system uses what you tell it to convert your results into your priorities for action, using a traffic light system.
|Category||What it means|
|Must Do||Significant opportunity to achieve more|
|Should Do||Opportunity to achieve more|
|Could Do||Some opportunity|
|Don’t Do||Little, if any opportunity|
It demonstrates to funders and other stakeholders your commitment to excellence, provides assurance to trustees and recognition to your staff and volunteers for achieving this.
“I’m delighted that we’ve gained the Quality Mark. It provides a structured but easily accessible way to review operations, locate gaps in operational excellence and, most importantly, be the best we can be for those that we support”. Herefordshire Mind
Once you have scored all 8 questionnaires, with a scoring rating of at least ‘Pass’, the QM will be displayed on your dashboard and you will be sent the QM logo.
If your rating isn’t Pass (green indicator), rescore the questionnaire. Each assessment statement looks at an issue from several perspectives. Not do we have it, but is it working as well as it could be? We all tend to make assumptions (self-included), but if you don’t meet all of a statement’s criteria, or aren’t sure you do, it’s not a 5.
You must score each questionnaire within the last 12 months to retain the QM. The QM reporting displays the date by which each questionnaire next needs to be scored and traffic light indicators will warn you, when you need to do so.
If you don't, the system will automatically remove your quality mark. To requalify, rescore the relevant questionnaires.
It's free, it’s also automated, so you there’s no extra workload to achieve it and you're assessed using a framework created to meet your specific needs, not the normal one size fits all. Moreover, the assessment is ongoing, not once every few years, so funders and others can have confidence in it.
“We worked through the questionnaires ourselves and achieved the Quality Mark for DSC (we're so proud!), so what are you waiting for?” The Directory of Social Change
As you score questionnaires, the CEF will automatically assess you using its Diversity Excellence Standard in a range of areas, from culture, to procedures, targets and outcomes, across your charity. Your results are reported on your dashboard. Click ‘Diversity’ to access your detailed results.
This is an amazing tool. 1000 out of 10. Race On The Agenda
The query system makes answering difficult questions easy. For example, ‘Tax Relief’ to find out what you’re not claiming (yet), ‘Funding Lists’ to find new funders, or to improve your ‘Website’, ‘Wellbeing’ or ‘Innovation’
It also saves you time and workload by enabling you to carry out management checks, respond to queries and identify opportunities, or issues, before these become problems.
You can select multiple criteria, from the 100 available, including groups of people. This short video (3 mins) shows you how it works.
"Working through each section provided a great opportunity to think through what we have done and what extra we could do and, with the resources there, made this process really worthwhile". RUTS
The ‘Export’ function saves time and reduces workload, by enabling you to download reports as action plans, for meetings or planning, or create reports for the Board, or others.
"Clear and logical approach that focuses us on what we are doing well and what we need to improve. The links to source material are great". Watford Sheltered Workshop Ltd
So user friendly and scope and clarity of questions were highly relevant. Access to supporting guidance and information was superb and thank you! Behind Every Kick
The CEF acts as an information hub that taps into and promotes the huge collective expertise of the sector.
It uses 1000s of resource links to connect you to organisations providing an enormous range of free guides, checklists, tools, templates and other resources. It also connects you to 100s of great organisations that provide everything from pro bono consultancy, mentoring, marketing and legal support to office accommodation, trustee recruitment, IT support and software; all free. There are so many resources and so much help available that it finds the ones you need for you.
The Funding Finder database works in the same way, by connecting you to 400+ other free funding databases and online funder lists , enabling you to click through to 100k+ funders globally.
"Fantastic resources." Anam Cara Fasgadh
To find out more about how Charity Excellence enables charities to improve impact, income and save money, watch this video (2 mins). and, or click the link for an introduction on how to use it (3 mins) or this one for how to get the most from the Funding Finder database (3 mins).
If you still want help, call me on 07595 371 444 or e mail me at email@example.com
"..this has helped us to address the areas that we are not quite there, and it is amazing to have all the resources we need to support us in one place. I really can’t believe you have pulled this together single handedly. Thank you!" President, The Learned Society of Wales
The system is hosted on a UK based Microsoft virtual machine, with SSL encryption. Your data will never be sold commercially and will not routinely be disclosed to third parties without either your consent, or unless required to do so by law, but may be shared with non-profit partners who are working with me to develop and scale the CEF and they may contact you to make you aware of the charitable work they do. Full details are in the Privacy Statement and Terms & Conditions, available via the website links at the bottom of each web page.