Small is best (in Mexborough!)

Small sparrow in the hand

‘Where the heck is Mexborough?’ was my opening line when I joined six members of the Mexborough and Swinton Astronomical Society at ICAEW’s Charity Awards last night.

In South Yorkshire apparently where the sky is fantastically clear and star gazing is a dream (unlike here in London when seeing the stars can only be in my dreams).  Even so, I was none the wiser where Mexbourough actually was and will be looking it up on a map later.

However, as the awards ceremony unfolded last night I did learn some other things which won’t need a map search.

The first was that a charity with a turnover of just £6,000 can show 157,000 other charities a few things when it comes to putting the annual review and accounts on line and making them interesting and accessible.  With a turnover so low I didn’t have to ask if their website was run by volunteers – of course it was.  As the chief executive of a skilled volunteering charity I really don’t know why I was so surprised.  Why were they so good?

Well Graham Ward, CBE and chairman of the Judges gave us some great tips for making your financial reporting and accounts online a bit more interesting, more accessible and, frankly, more relevant in this day and age of technology.  So four more learning points from the night were:

  1. good levels of interaction encourage people to engage
  2. use html based design not downloadable documents
  3. cater for the hand held device
  4. if you just upload your pdf then you are showing that the web is an afterthought when as a sector we really need to recognise it is a primary mechanism.

The other learning point last night were the prizes.  The smaller the charity, the larger the award that they received.  Imagine being a charity with a turnover of £6,000 and receiving a cheque for £2,200.  Either you have just raised 1/3 of this year’s income or you have increased your income by 1/3, either way that is an award that makes a real difference.  In contrast The British Library, winner of the over £2m category received an award worth less than 0.01% of their annual income.  I’m sure it’ll be helpful but it’s not quite the same.

So what do you think?  Should we be using our online media to make our story exciting, to liven up the dry annual report and accounts?  Have a look at some of the winners.  I’ll make no bones they are all more engaging online than ours.  I love our new bright, small format annual review but online we’ve some work to do… mind you ICAEW –  just you wait till next year!!

ICAEW winners included:

Sarah is Reach’s former Chief Executive, leading the organisation from 2008 until 2012
July 16th, 2010 by