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It has been a busy month for the Not-for-Profit sector! This month’s digest highlights some exciting events hosted by the Charity Finance Group and the Charity Tax Group, addressing the impending challenges and opportunities for the sector. In addition, we have included two interesting articles about the post-pandemic scenario, focused on office environments and employees. Carol also shares her key takeaways from the HEPI annual conference and her thoughts on The Times’ newly released Higher Education Young University Rankings.
In case you missed it…
ICAEW responds to Government’s BEIS White Paper
ICAEW’s Chief Executive, Michael Izza, shared the Institute’s response to the UK Government’s White Paper on corporate governance and audit reform, stating that “Government should give careful thought to the entities it intends to catch in the increased governance and reporting requirements for PIEs. We would not expect third sector entities to be included in a regime designed to identify commercial entities.” This neatly sums up my view too.
Read the full ICAEW statement: https://www.icaew.com/insights/viewpoints-on-the-news/2021/Jul-2021/BEIS-white-paper-the-long-and-complicated-road-to-reform
Charity Digital Skills Report
The Charity Digital Skills Report is now in its fifth year, and it can be considered the annual barometer of digital skills, attitudes and support needs across the sector. The results of last week’s Charity Digital Skills Report 2021 uncovered the key building blocks needed to provide the right foundations for digital change in the charity sector.
The Charity Digital Skills Report comes at an interesting time as charities start to (hopefully) emerge from the pandemic. It is great news that 60% of charities now have digital strategies in place and it will be important that the overall strategy for the charity is revisited in the short term ensuring that any positive learnings are built into the future direction of the charity taking into account both the new ways of working and also delivering services.
It is equally encouraging to see that 67% of charities see digital as a priority however as the most urgent need noted is for the CEO and the board to provide a clear vision of what digital could help the charity to achieve, it would be worth challenging whether greater training is required to help drive this forward. The survey makes it clear that whilst the direction of travel is positive, more than half of the charities believe the board has low digital skills or room for improvement. Perhaps this needs to be a focus area for boards moving forwards both through training and the skills mix on the board?
I also want to extend my congratulations to Zoe Amar FCIM and the team for producing another thought-provoking report.
Here you can download the report: https://report.skillsplatform.org/charity-digital-report-2021/
Returning to work post-pandemic
I was delighted to contribute to the article “Is your charity ready to return to the workplace?”, discussing returning to work post-pandemic with Tristan Blythe at Civil Society Media Ltd. There is so much to think about when considering how best to approach it. One thing I am sure of though is that very few of us will get it absolutely right the first time and so ongoing communication will be key as we all learn what works best in practice.
The full article is available to read here (apologies to those of you who don’t have a subscription to Charity Finance):http://ow.ly/SNhR50FnJcQ
Charity Tax Group – Brexit, six months on
Gerry Myton, our Head of Indirect Tax, was a panellist at the latest Charity Tax Group’s Expert Insights webinar on the tax implications for charities of Brexit, six months on. He featured with speakers from RNLI and the British University Finance Directors Group providing practical examples of real-life issues that have been facing charities and universities grappling with the VAT and customs issues relating to Brexit.
Highlights from the HEPI annual conference
I attended the Higher Education Policy Institute annual conference and it was excellent. Two particular highlights for me were
1) hearing from Nicola Dandridge (Chief Executive of the Office for Students) who spoke straight from the heart and made it clear that academic experiences and good student outcomes go hand in hand; it’s not either/or and
2) hearing first-hand the results of the Student Academic Experience Survey 2021 produced by HEPI and Advance HE. Unsurprisingly the results are very different than previous years and make stark reading.
There were two key aspects of the survey which particularly stick in my mind. Firstly, the huge desire among students to return mainly to in-person teaching rather than online learning. Whilst this is perhaps unsurprising given the lockdown experience, there have been those calling for more blended learning going forwards given the huge shift already achieved to online but clearly, this may not prove popular. The other relates to students’ wellbeing which has been a concern since before Covid. Unsurprisingly this has been made worse by Covid, as with the rest of the population. The survey asked students who had considered leaving higher education what things had led to this; their mental and emotional health came out by far the greatest factor.
The report summarizing the findings from the Student Academic Experience Survey 2021 is available here: https://www.hepi.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/SAES_2021_FINAL.pdf
The Times University Rankings
The Times Higher Education Young University Rankings were released with interesting results. The list is composed of the world’s best universities that are 50 years old or younger and the fact that the UK has the most universities on the table is great. However, the question is: how long will this continue? For example, for the first time in this group of universities, institutions in Asia outnumber those in the rest of the world. This is a clear reflection of the growth in new institutions in Asia over the past 50 years, as well as their rising performance.
To discover the full list of universities: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings/2021/young-university-rankings#!/page/0/length/25/sort_by/rank/sort_order/asc/cols/stats
Virtual Meetings Fatigue
The article published by MIT Sloan Management Review, “How to Combat Virtual Meeting Fatigue,” is an informative piece that highlights the reasons why virtual meetings can be so draining and what can leaders do to improve them. I thought it worth sharing this further as it looks like we will be continuing with “Zooming” – not just because of lockdown timetables, but because hybrid working is here to stay. It is also worth thinking through how best to make meetings work when you have a mix of people attending virtually and in-person; in my experience, it requires quite a different approach to chair such meetings effectively and ensure everyone is included.
Charity Finance Group – 2021 Annual Conference
The Charity Finance Group annual conference is always excellent. We are looking forward to taking part in the 2021 conference, with our experts at HW Fisher leading a session on managing contracts and licensing agreements in an effective way.
Find more information at https://www.cfg.org.uk/AC21
We hope this is a helpful summary. Follow Carol Rudge on Twitter and LinkedIn for more regular live updates. If you have any further questions or discuss individual circumstances, please get in touch!