Is paperless a reality for charities?

It is, according to Owen Balloch, Marketing Manager at Kodak Alaris.

For all charities, there’s a constant need to achieve more with less. That means resources have to be stretched and efficiencies maximised, which could lead to a great embracing of digital solutions for charities and community organisations alike.

The digital workplace comes in many forms, but one of the most easily achievable and easy to manage methods of streamlining workflows and boosting efficiency is to reduce physical paper consumption through digital workflows. Here are some benefits to such an approach:

  • 45% of the paper printed in offices ends up in a waster bin: This daily lifespan occurs for over a trillion sheets of paper per year.
  • A typical employee spends 30-40% of their time looking for information locked in E-Mail and filing cabinets.
  • The average document is copied 9 to 11 times, and every 12 filing cabinets require an additional employee to maintain.
  • Each four-drawer file cabinet holds an average of 10,000 to 12,000 documents, and takes up to nine square feet of floor space, a massive expense when budgets are tight and under pressure.
  • Large organisations lose a document every 12 seconds.
  • Paper in the average organisation grows by 22% a year.

The benefits of transitioning into the digital world are far-reaching and can include:

Efficiency: Digital documents are much easier to manage, store and retrieve than paper ones. Having documents available to access and share regardless of the location improves team productivity and brings a better customer experience.

Faster communication: Paper documents will take at least a day to transfer from Point A to Point B. Even then there may be delays, misplacement, or complete loss. Once digitised, a document is available where it is needed, instantly. It’s also more secure.

Document back-up and recovery: With the paperless office documents are stored electronically for simple and easy back-ups to a remote server or the cloud. This protects information should disaster strike. Paper documents lost in a fire or flood are irreplaceable.

Cost savings: Print, paper and storage are costly. Charities need to demonstrate that they are using as much of a donor’s contribution on its projects as possible: Reducing outlay on storage, archiving, ink, paper and printing is a tangible saving worth making.

Here are some hints and tips on making that move to paperless:

  1. Assess paper-driven bottlenecks:

Detail the most critical business processes, such as the ones that stop or ‘harm’ operations if they are delayed. Review existing documentation or establish a quick step-by-step overview noting where paper is used in each process or task. Assess the number of paper business inputs required for the chosen processes in a typical day, week or month and the time involved in the manual handling of the paper document.

  1. Establish paperless processes where feasible:

Identify tasks that rely on paper-based inputs but can easily be shifted to a digital implementation: Ensure that digital and conventional processes can be handled in parallel and are fully integrated.

  1. Scanning and back-file conversion:

Any documents that arrive in paper form should be scanned and converted to electronic format as quickly as possible upon receipt. The chances are that paper documents and files coming from external sources will likely be a part of your operations for some time. The key is to digitise those files as soon as they arrive so they can be acted on immediately. There may also be value in converting existing archives to digital, but this requires high retrieval rates and some resource.

  1. Update stakeholders

Once you have implemented the shift to digitalisation, you should inform all stakeholders about the changes and how it affects them. You may want to issue an email notice highlighting the advantages and also cover any concerns that may exist about security and privacy.


GDPR Charity Forum

Hewitson’s solicitiors have just run a Support Cambridgeshire Charity Forum on the subject of GDPR, which comes into force on the 25th May 2018.

The event, held in Huntingdonshire attracted 20 delegates, and covered the essential differences between GDPR and the current Data Protection Act, which it replaces.

There was some fantastic feedback from the event: Take a look at some of the delegate quotations below:

The session confirmed some concerns and worries I have.

Very useful – clarified the changes and made it less daunting.

The course was excellent and well delivered.

The presenters were knowledgeable, sensible and understood their audience.

It was nice to have points explained clearly. The presenters were excellent.

It gave me a clear understanding of the changes.

It was concise and useful.

It was helpful to clarify a confusing subject.

It is vital that every organisation starts to think about GDPR, and its possible implications. Hewitson’s have supplied some helpful feedback:

  • The GDPR will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 on 25 May 2018.  All charities must ensure that they comply with the new rules.  If a charity is already complying with the DPA then there may be very little adjustment to be made to current practices and policies.
  • The ICO has lots of useful guidance on its website, especially for charities, which may be found at  This will also be useful for local groups and other not-for-profits even if they are not charities.
  • In order to be prepared, charities must first undertake an ‘audit’ of all the personal data that they currently hold to understand what data is held, what it is used for, the legal basis on which it is held (see below) and who has access to it.
  • As to that last point, charities should ensure the data is kept securely either by physical means (e.g. locked cabinet) or electronic (passwords).
  • It is helpful if there is one person who is assigned to the job of making sure that a charity is GDPR compliant.  Charities should follow the guidance about whether a Data Protection Officer must be appointed in their organisation, but whether required or not it is always useful to nominate someone for this responsibility.
  • Boards of trustees should ensure that they recognise their duties in respect of GDPR and minute their discussions on the subject.  Although it may be best for them to delegate the practical side of compliance, ultimately the responsibility to ensure that they are compliant lies with them.
  • Charities should read the ‘12 steps to take now’ document which is produced by the ICO, if they have not done so already.
  • The key point to remember is that there must be a lawful basis for processing personal data.  For most charities this will either be because the data subject has given consent to the processing of their data (a positive opt in) or processing is necessary for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the charity.
  • Other lawful bases include processing that is necessary: for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party or for compliance with a legal obligation to which the charity is subject or in order to protect the vital interests of a data subject or another person (i.e. to protect their life) or for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest (mostly relevant to public authorities).
  • Special category data which includes data regarding someone’s health or relating to children, must be treated especially carefully: The GDPR introduces additional protections over and above standard data processing.
  • There is no need to panic!  Changes to policies and practices cannot be done overnight.  So long as charities are taking all reasonable steps to ensure compliance, they are highly unlikely to be found to be in breach.  And remember the changes are taking place across all 28 Member States, and will apply to organisations outside the EU that offer goods / services to individuals inside the EU.  Many are therefore grappling with this new regime.


Charities cannot afford to be digitally defiant..!!

So says Dr Simon Davey, consultant at the Cass Centre for Charity Effectiveness.

His warning comes after the latest Tech Trust Digital Charity Survey, which revealed that over half of charities (58%) don’t have a digital strategy, with just over a third saying that the lack of money is the biggest barrier. Other barriers cited were the lack of time (32.71%), lack of understanding (15.94%) and no perceived benefit (9.40%).

Dr Davey says: “Charities without a digital strategy risk being left behind when it comes to raising awareness of their organisation, communicating with potential donors and stakeholders and interacting with beneficiaries.”

He adds, “While a few years ago some charities may have thought it was just younger people that were prolific users of digital technology, many more people use now use technology in their daily lives. Soon we will have generations that have never lived without smart phones or access to Facebook and Twitter.

“Charities can no longer hope they will survive doing things the way they have always done. Technology is at the heart of business and charity communications and interactions and charities need to invest time and money in developing a digital strategy to future-proof their organisation.”

Some starting points:

What’s the why: What’s the point really? Why do you want to do this? Efficiency, growth, innovation? What will make that happen? A new website for educating an audience about your subject area or better direct interaction, a database for managing engagement and relationships and tracking outcomes or equipment and tools to make you more productive? Be very clear about the goal and reasons for doing it.

Know what you need: Start from the user perspective: Talk to them about what they need and want, create user journeys (how people act and interact), imagine what could be (not just what is and always has been). Digital platforms offer great potential but its always best change your processes first than fit shiny new tyres to a clapped out old car. Choose your technology and suppliers carefully. Cultural fit matters but do not exchange competence for ‘ those who are nice to work with’.

Make a plan: Technology can be unforgiving (and expensive to reverse) so always trial and test it. Have a destination, staging points and outline timetable, a means to evaluate success or failure and a group of people to assess whether it has worked.

Appreciate change: Be aware of the ‘Change Curve’ and its implications. However well you prepare and plan, you need to take people through the phases, through the disbelief, the frustration of the new, the bit when things cannot get any worse, the experimentation when they get better and finally acceptance and commitment. Lead the change and ride the curve. Use your plan to help show you and others where you should be.

Drive through better: Your ‘why’ and ‘plan’ define the map. Keep your destination clear and focused, know what success looks like and keep going. Make sure someone is driving the project and always constantly review and develop.

The pitfalls of Facebook

In a recent edition of the Get Connected Magazine from the Cambridgeshire Chamber of Commerce an article appeared on the pitfalls of Facebook and the importance of having a social media policy.

Nicola Cockerill from Buckles Solicitors LLP explains:

A recent national story reported the case of an employee who lost her job as a manager at a residential care home for posting pictures and videos on her Facebook page.

The post depicted a regular music night held at the care home, and whilst it showed both staff and residents enjoying the evening, it was also alleged to have breached the employers policies and procedures and this resulted in her employment of 21 years being terminated.

Nicola comments that as a solicitor she is continually surprised at these type of cases, and the fact that many organisations still fail to have relevant guidelines on social media that employees can follow.

Here’s some top tips for a good social media policy:

  • Organisations should ensure they have a robust social media policy in place which clearly details what is acceptable and what is not. If an organisation adopts a zero-tolerance policy to social media then this needs to be made clear.
  • Organisations should use plain language that employees will understand. Try to avoid jargon or highly complicated technical terms which could cause confusion or misunderstanding.
  • Ensure employees are aware of the social media policy which exists and ensure that at induction, this policy is clearly understood.
  • Ensure the social media policy is regularly reviewed and updated. Social media itself is a new and rapidly evolving world and the policy will need to evolve in tandem.
  • Ensure the social media policy is applied consistently amongst staff.

A template social media policy is shown here:

If organisations need advice or guidance when constructing a social media policy then this is offered free of charge at


Important Reminder..!!

Important reminder if your organisation works in Drug or Alcohol Recovery.

Cambridgeshire Adult Drug and Alcohol Treatment Services are currently being re-tendered. Interested parties are invited to a networking workshop on Friday 2 February, jointly hosted by Cambridgeshire County Council and Hunts Forum.

In order for potential bidders (some of which will be national organisations) to understand the local landscape and appreciate the wide range of third sector providers that work across Cambridgeshire, we would like to provide the opportunity for all parties to meet, network and cement links for future partnerships. This is a major opportunity for local third sector organisations/charities to publicise their work to potential bidders and explore the potential to work together and grow recovery support in Cambridgeshire.

The event will be taking place at the Hinchingbrooke Country side Centre:

The event runs from 1pm – 4pm but you will need to arrive 15 minutes beforehand.

We hope that you will be able to join us on 2 February to meet and network with current and potentially new colleagues. If you wish to book a space please URGENTLY e-mail by Close of Play Monday 29.01.2018.

Lets champion our village halls

We all know that village halls are often the very centre of local communities across Cambridgeshire.

There are around 250 village halls and other community buildings across the County, playing a key role in reducing social isolation within rural communities.

90% of Cambridgeshire Village halls are run by dedicated volunteers, giving up countless hours to keeping the community facility open for all to use.

To celebrate this, the ACRE Network is running the first ever National Village Halls Week during the week of the 22nd January 2018.

Ways in which you can help:

Say a massive “Thank You” to those who run village halls by supporting the national campaign on social media over the next few weeks.

  • Twitter: @VillageHalls_wk and @cambsacre
  • Facebook: via@ACREnational and@cambsacre
  • Instagram: via@ACREnational

Use any or all of the following hashtags to connect your messages to the national campaign:

#VillageHallsWeek/ #ACRENetwork/#villagehalls/#communitybuildings/#ThankYou/#volunteers

Ask any local media to champion your local village hall, the services it offers and the volunteers dedicated to running it.

Consider whether you have the time, skills and energy to help run your local village hall?

If you run a local business, can you offer products, services or skills which could benefit the local community?

If you are interested in learning more please contact


Have a voice

The voluntary and community movement across Cambridgeshire consists of a myriad number of smaller organisations, some of whom often feel they have very little voice or influence.

As public funding declines, the voluntary sector is being asked to do more and deliver more, in a more effective and efficient manner.

The voluntary sector is also being asked, on occasions, to co-design services with statutory partners such as District and County commissioners.

In order to do this the sector requires a greater voice to exert more influence on funders, statutory partners and external stakeholders.

But how do we do that collectively..??

Support Cambridgeshire is offering bespoke Representation Training through Hunts Forum of Voluntary Organisations which enables individuals within organisations to represent the sector at County wide or District partnership boards.

If anyone is interested in widening their skill sets and developing a role within voice and representation, then please contact Russell Rolph the Development Manager for Support Cambridgeshire, in the first instance. Russell can be contacted at

The various partnership boards are held monthly, and therefore a role in voice and representation will be additional to any current work or volunteering obligations.




Volunteer for Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue

Are you interested in helping to keep your local community safe?

Do you want to develop your skills and experience?

Do you want to support Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue and help them make a difference?

If the answer is yes, then why not become a Community Champion?

As a representative of Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue, Community Champions volunteer their time to deliver important fire safety messages within their community.

The Fire and Rescue service are keen to reach out into the wider community, and are looking for volunteers for whom English is their second language.

Please click here for a leaflet translated into Polish.

Please click here for a leaflet translated into Russian.

Please click here for a leaflet translated into Czech.

Please click here for a leaflet translated into Lithuanian.

If you are over 18 years of age and would like to get involved, or you require further information about these volunteer opportunities please contact Emma Prestidge:

Plans for a new Business Board unveiled

A proposal to create a more effective model where businesses and the public sector work in partnership for the good of the region has recently been announced by the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority (CPCA).

Plans for a new ‘Business Board’ have been revealed by Mayor James Palmer which include a fundamental re-structure of the Greater Cambridge Greater Peterborough Local Economic Partnership (or LEP).

The Business Board will be the main feature of a powerful new partnership between the private and public sectors.

The Board will provide a forum for business leaders to give direction on the issues that are important to the fast-paced growth of the local economy.

For more information on the proposed changes click here:

Reshaping Drug and Alcohol Services in Cambridgeshire

The Public Health Joint Commissioning Unit is re-tendering the adult drug and alcohol treatment service contract.  The current contract, which is held by ‘Inclusion’ comes to an end on 30th September, 2018.  This provides the Commissioning Unit with the opportunity to explore new and innovative models of treatment provision to meet current need.

The new contract will include the provision of

  • Advice and information.
  • Medical treatment.
  • Harm reduction.
  • Recovery orientated programme of support.
  • Support around housing, education, training, and work.
  • Family/carer support.

The aim of the new service is to ensure that everyone who wants and needs support gets the best help they can to enable them to make the changes that they need to make.

Support will also be provided to parents, partners and others who live with someone who is misusing drugs and alcohol.

The new service will have the following outcomes:

  • An integrated specialist drug and alcohol treatment system across Cambridgeshire.
  • Increased alignment and integration with related services to ensure that the complex needs (most notably poor mental and physical health, homelessness, unemployment) of service users are effectively addressed with treatment and recovery outcomes achieved.
  • Robust recovery focused treatment approaches.
  • A long term condition treatment model which decreases demand for acute treatment services and ensures that needs are appropriately addressed.
  • Early intervention and harm reduction interventions.

For more detailed information on the results of the consultation processes please click here:

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