General administrative matters not featured elsewhere on VolResource.
Health and Safety has a separate page.
Telecoms advice TelecomsAdvice is an independent website for small businesses who need to know about using telecoms and the Internet.
Handling phone volume surges While there are quite a lot of call centre services around, not all will understand enough about the sector to provide appropriate handling of awareness campaigns, good or bad publicity surges and the like. Those involved with fundraising or membership processing may be well placed – see Membership services. Otherwise try BSS, a registered charity which runs BSS Linklines (phone 0161 455 1206).
BT’s online Phone Book (aka Directory Enquiries). If you have name and area, and perhaps part of the address, try this facility.
Telephone & Fax Preference Services Online look-up Data Protection regulations now make it illegal to carry out direct marketing via phone calls (or fax) to individuals who have opted-out. There is a corporate TPS where organisations can register to avoid getting cold calls. Those undertaking direct marketing must check against these lists – more details.
Postcodes and address validation To find a postcode for an address, or look up a postcode, see the Royal Mail.
Postage Rates There is a Calculator on the Royal Mail site, as well as straight Postal Prices info.
Other online address or phone number databases. There are various online business search sites. They keep on changing, so do a Google to find!
Community Network used to provide this service for charities and other not-for-profit agencies, but as the website forwards to The Phone Coop (at April 2014) we presume it has closed.
BT Conferencing has various options, including Conference Call Presence, which puts conference phone calls alongside web meeting facilities (for up to 20), so you can share documents, ‘whiteboard’, presentations etc as you talk (you will need to have internet access separate from your voice phone line). No set-up costs, but 50p per participant per minute. Phone 0800 800 778.
There are certainly other such services, and voice over internet (VOIP) services such as Skype (mainly free, but more sophisticated services cost) provide a cost-effective approach, particularly for international calls.
A greatly neglected area but a well-managed building (whether an office, community centre or whatever) can make a lot of difference in the motivation of staff and how efficiently the organisation runs. On the downside, problems can create a lot of friction and be very time-consuming to resolve.
Community Matters has closed (was the place to go on all things community building).
Food Hygiene: Food Standards Agency’s ‘Community and charity food provision: guidance on the application of EU food hygiene law‘ current link appears to have gone at April 2018, so this is to a 2015 draft! Particularly targeted at community halls.
The Carbon Trust provides energy saving services. Also see the self-survey pack Energy Efficiency in Community Buildings, which advises on what measures and improvements could be made, depending on how the building is used and how often, and provides pointers to further support and advice. Was available from National Energy Action publications page.
The Ethical Property Foundation has set up an advice web site, covering key property issues around looking for an office, moving in or out, and managing your office which gives more detail on some of the issues below. Further advice, particularly for London-based groups, is available.
Some areas to check out
See the Insurances info page.
National Non-Domestic Rates are applicable in England and Wales on all non-residential properties. Apply for mandatory charity 80% relief as soon as you receive an assessment, if not before, and see whether you can apply for the remaining discretionary 20%. Voluntary organisations which aren’t registered charities will have to check out the local council’s policy on extending this to them. Revaluations generally every 5 years – 2005, 2010. Check the Business Premises section of Gov.Uk (or search for Valuation Office Agency) – if you know your charging (local) authority and postcode you can get the current Rateable Value here. (Their explanation of the system includes the multiplier to use when calculating actual rates.) DCLG is the responsible government department.
If you are going to install an alarm, how many people do you need to act as keyholders for call-outs? Can they actually get there out-of-hours (safely)? The less people operating the system, the fewer false alarms you are likely to get – police cover is usually removed if there are too many of these in a given period (at time of writing, 7 in a year in Met Police area, or 4 if cover has previously been withdrawn.) In urban areas, you can probably pay for a ‘keyholding’ service, which will answer call-outs and re-set the system for you, but make sure you are clear what each call-out costs.
Charities often set up trading companies to carry out ‘non-charitable’ aspects of their work, whether its selling merchandise or commercial sponsorship deals. Smaller organisations won’t have separate staff, and ‘just’ apportion costs appropriately. Where the parent is a registered charity, care should be taken over charging a trading subsidiary a proper market rent, as subsidy is not allowed under charity law. (Source advice from Russell Cooke Solicitors charity team.)
Businesses (which includes most voluntary organisations) need a licence to cover each premises they occupy. As well as television sets, dont forget this includes video recorders and TV enabled PCs. Multiple premises can be listed on one licence by arrangement. Concessionary rates for ‘Accommodation for Residential Care’, phone 0870 240 1291 for info or see web site. TV Licensing, Bristol, BS98 1TL.
Disabled access to services has implications for premises. From 1st October 2004 service providers have to take reasonable steps to alter premises or other physical features that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service. If you manage premises intended for public use, an access audit would be in order – identifying what the problems are, how to eliminate them, budget costs and a prioritised action plan to use for fundraising. See Equal Ops section on VolResource for more links on disability issues (in service provision and employment).
The Centre for Accessible Environments has some information available online and may be able to provide cheap or even free advice to community groups.
Don’t forget that specific areas of admin (such as charity registration) are dealt with on other VolResource pages.
ICSA (Institute for Chartered Secretaries and Administrators) Charity Secretaries Group may have closed, – for chartered secretaries and others taking on a company secretarial role in voluntary organisations. Contact ICSA, 16 Park Crescent, London, W1N 4AH, phone 020 7612 7040.
TSO Online Bookshop (was The Stationery Office) is the key source for all statutory publications, and a wide range of official and business publications.
Handbooks and Manuals
There are a number of publishers of manuals on such things as Health and Safety, Company Administration, Payroll, and the like – Tolleys, Jordans and Croners are listed on the Publishers page as they also do some specific to the voluntary sector.
Another publisher in the field is/was Gee, now part of Wolters Kluwer (along with Croners).