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In January, we announced a number of changes to our refreshed Aviva Community Fund. The programme now offers quarterly funding and year-round support to causes that are having a positive impact all across the UK.

Another big change is our partnership with Crowdfunder, which equips small charities with the online crowdfunding skills they need to thrive and survive in times like these. And, as we prepare to welcome new causes to enter projects into their second quarter of the programme, the Covid-19 outbreak presents some unique challenges.

Now, more than ever, small charities like yours need support. We are passionate about enabling such causes to access the funding needed, and support them to build on and learn new digital fundraising skills, skills that have become critical. Our fund can help small charities to gain crucial knowledge, confidence and experience in crowdfunding, which provides a much-needed revenue stream in these challenging times.

Karl Wilding, CEO for the National Council of Voluntary Organisations, estimates the UK charity sector will lose £4 billion in income as a result of the pandemic. On top of reduced donations and the cancellation of many major fundraising events, a surge in demand for services in the coming months will see increasing pressure put on staff and infrastructure.

Causes are more crucial than ever in providing vital support in their communities, which is why we’re committed to ensuring our fund provides the tools and resources you need to make a difference today.

To make this possible,we have broadened the criteria for the current funding round – applications are open now until 5 May. We’re still encouraging causes to submit their forward thinking ideas and projects, but also welcome applications from causes that need to adapt or simply continue their vital services. This applies even if it’s as simple as finding the resources to cover core running costs, so that projects can continue to help beneficiaries and communities during this time of need.

We’ve seen causes across the country adapt their programmes to respond and support their communities, communities that are facing unique and complex challenges. This has been remarkable.

We were thrilled that hundreds of inspiring small charities put forward innovative ideas in the first quarter and that many are already having a huge impact in communities across the country.

Aviva is sharing out £250,000 among UK Aviva employees every quarter, giving them the chance to decide which projects they want to back personally, alongside further donations from the public.

The next round of applications for the Aviva Community Fund is open now until 23:59 Monday 5 May. So, if you fundraise, work or volunteer for a brilliant local cause who would benefit from this programme, please apply.

Got a question? Contact the Aviva Community Fund team by emailing:

Helen Bridge, Corporate Responsibility Manager, Aviva UK

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Updated: Jul 28, 2020

With the emerging challenges of coronavirus and working remotely, many trustee boards are considering virtual meetings as an alternative to face-to-face. The Charity Commission has guidance on remote meetings in their publication CC48: Charities and meetings and has recently issued new guidance specifically in relation to cornonavirus. Unless your governing document expressly excludes it, you most likely can meet virtually in order to meet your charity’s needs. However, you do need to be able to both see and hear one another so video-conferencing (rather than telephone) is essential.

In our experience, hosting and chairing meetings in a virtual format is challenging; you do not have the same non-verbal cues as you might in a face-to-face setting. Your trustees may have varying levels of digital skills which can affect their ability to participate and engage in decision-making in a meaningful way.

This short guide is intended to help you make virtual meetings work for you, your trustees and your charity.

Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

1. Get the fundamentals in place

You’ll need video-conferencing software to enable you to meet virtually. Good, low-cost or free options include Zoom, 8×8 Video Meetings, Google Hangouts , Microsoft Teams and Skype. Many of the features of these tools are similar, it might come down to what you are already using and have available to you.

You’ll want to make sure that your meeting participants are comfortable using whichever software you use – you might signpost them to any useful resources or videos or offer a pre-meet to run through the different features if it is their first time using the software.

2. Consider your environment and presentation

Start by framing the camera correctly: we’ve all been on video calls where we end up looking up someone’s nose or only seeing half their face. Make sure you frame your camera in a way that feels natural and allows you to look at the camera. Sit at eye level to the lens and try to position yourself so that it shows you from mid-section up.

A common mistake is looking at the video feed instead of the camera when speaking to a remote participant. While it may seem like the right thing to do, it actually makes it appear as if you’re looking off and not paying attention.

Poor lighting conditions can affect the quality of your video – try to be in a room with sufficient lighting for people to see you. Finally, consider background noise – right before your meeting may not be the time to start your washing machine or have your family watch a noisy film in the background! Try to find a quiet space where you are able to focus.

3. Set some ground rules

In a virtual setting there is more potential for distractions to get in the way. Some useful ground rules would include:

· mute yourself when not speaking (especially if in a noisy environment)

· close down emails and other apps

· stay off mobile phones.

Model this and show you value the meeting content and your colleagues by not being visibly distracted. You can use comfort breaks throughout the meeting just as you would face-to-face. Top tip: put the return time in the call chat so people can reference this back and know when to return!

4. Help your trustees to participate and engage

Meeting in a virtual environment is very different to meeting face-to-face and it can lead to people talking over one another or worse, dead air. Having hosted and participated in many online meetings, I’ve found the following can really help engagement:

· Invest some time at the beginning in breaking the ice. For some reason in a virtual setting, we have more of a tendency to jump straight into the business. Spend a few minutes giving each person a chance to say hello and settle in.

· Use the inbuilt tools in your software such as screen sharing for key documents. For example, when reviewing the previous meeting minutes and matters arising you could share the document on your screen and make edits or annotations in real time, that everyone can see.

· Leave a sufficient pause after asking a question. Remember that your trustees may experience a few seconds delay so give them a chance to hear, reflect and respond.

· It can be helpful to ask for contributions one by one to ensure everyone has a chance to speak.

· Some of the software tools allow you to break people into smaller groups. If you have trustees that are less comfortable speaking in a large group setting you could break people into smaller discussions or allow time for individual reflections before asking for contributions.

· You might also need to frame your questions in a different way if you find you have no response. Recently on a trustee video conference call I was on, the Chair asked if anyone disagreed with a proposed response. This was met with silence. The Chair reframed the question to ask ‘what might some of the risks be with this approach?’ which led to useful contributions.

· Summarise key points and reiterate actions verbally as well as documenting in the minutes after discussions.

5. Remember to document and follow up

Just as with every trustee meeting, the post-meeting is just as important as the meeting itself. Make sure the minutes are documented – you might ask someone to do this for you, as it can be challenging to manage both the technology and the individual contributions as well as take accurate notes. You should circulate these with actions as soon as practicable afterwards.

These five tips should help you to make the most of your trustee meetings and ensure they are as productive as possible. Let us know if you have other advice or tips to share!

Remember that the FSI is here to support your small charity, we continue to offer free and heavily subsidised online resources, training webinars, e-learning and 1:1 advice which you can access from anywhere.

We can also offer remote consultancy support in governance, strategy and planning, impact, income diversification and fundraising so get in touch if you’d like to find out how we can help you.

Janine Edwards, Commercial Director, the FSI.

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