Today, we started our quarterly (well, it is now!) Peer Support Group survey, and early indications are showing that some of our members aren’t sure about why we decided to be recognised as a charity, and if it’s going to change anything in the near future.
The long and short of it: It’s not going to change the group at all!
The reason we’ve gone down this route is purely administrative – it gives us access to a whole host of support – from how to manage volunteers better, to advice on getting funding. It also means that we can apply for discounts on services and software that we use to make Spark work – meaning that we need less money to do more!
Tools such as Office 365 which we use for our emails and to share things that we need between the management team, When I Work which we use to schedule our marvellous mod team, down to Microsoft Azure which we use for our website, our training application, and some other bits and pieces, give us extensive discounts – Office 365 and Azure have now got no cost attached to them for us, whilst When I Work is discounted heavily.
It also means that if and when we get donations, if the donor is a UK taxpayer, we can claim 20% extra from the government under the Gift Aid scheme, meaning that we top up your donation by 1/5 – at absolutely no extra cost to you!
Spark’s costs are absolutely no secret – in fact, our current outgoings are as below:
- HelloSign – £8.50/month
We use HelloSign for digital document signing when we send out volunteer agreements and documents that the management team need to sign. It saves us hours in getting stuff sent back via post!
- Exclaimer – £5/month
We use Exclaimer to make sure that we have consistency across our email signatures. Whilst this seems a trivial thing – email signatures can be powerful. It means that we can customise them in one central place, and promote what we need to promote in a clear and consistent way.
- When I Work – £7/month
When I Work provide our scheduling software for shifts. This saves us hours every week putting together shift schedules for our moderating team, and means that we can be exceptionally flexible, allowing people to pick up and drop shifts if they want to themselves.
- Buffer – £4/month
Buffer provides us with social media management tools, allowing us to set up our social media channels in advance, and concentrate on our other day-to-day tasks.
- Enhanced DBS Checks for Moderators – £9.60/each
We need this for legal compliance – dealing with what the law classes as vulnerable adults, and potentially children, we are required to have enhanced DBS checks. We feel that this also gives everyone that extra bit of peace of mind, as we can prove that all our volunteers are above board!
Overall, to keep Spark above board, legal, and running how it should – our yearly budget is currently £1200. Whilst this seems like a lot of money for an online peer support network, this means that we can ensure the safety of all our members, get the word out to people that we exist, and potentially even look to new projects that we can bring on board, to get more people more help with their mental health.
We are investigating a couple of other pieces of software which we feel might help us out, but we’re not paying for that yet! We strongly believe that time is valuble – and anything that we can use to save a considerable amount of time is potentially worth investing in. Time we’re not spending doing admin tasks means more time that we can spend focusing on our main focus – the wonderful Peer Support Group.
I really hope that this reassures you, and helps you understand the decision that we took to become an officially recognised charity. If you have any questions still, please please do just drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be awesome and stay sparkly,