On Starting a Charity: Our First Tentative Steps
By Simon Taylor, trustee of “Steps to your Healthy Future” – a charity to provide education and support for those with Type 2 Diabetes.
We come from varied backgrounds. From a diabetes nurse, to marketing, to economist, to Sports Therapist.
But the five trustees of our new charity have a common belief; that there are no benefits to having type 2 diabetes and, sadly, there is too little information for people about how to effectively manage the condition in day-to-day life.
Of course, the NHS is there – and it is a truly unique organisation full of caring experts. But we all know it’s stretched and not everything can be a priority.
Supporting those with type 2 diabetes. Why?
A few facts made us stop and think:
- 4.5 million people are living with diabetes in the UK
- Around 700 people a day are diagnosed with diabetes.
- There are 140 amputations a week from Diabetes
- Increased risk of erectile dysfunction – between 35% and 90% of those with diabetes experience greater problems
- Costs the NHS £10 billion a year of which £8 billion is avoidable
So, we decided to set up coffee mornings for those in the community who have it, but perhaps not huge wealth to pay for the right help.
These were so successful that they are still going six years later. Why? Because they proved to be a place where like-minded people gathered. Where it was alright to talk about the problems, or whether the medication was right, or how isolating it can be, or keeping your weight under control or how erectile dysfunction is a real issue and more.
Kate, our Chair, also designed and set up a yearlong education programme; completely free to beneficiaries, thanks to private sponsorship. Conducted in a GP surgery, the results were pleasing because it meant people changed their life style and continued the change.
Our conclusion? In August last year, and based on Kate’s work, we would set up a charity.
Our own first steps
We agreed on two sides to the charity. First, to support those in community: reduce isolation, help people to come and work together to better live with diabetes, weight issues, loneliness, erectile dysfunction.
How? By coffee sessions, one-off talks and bespoke, accessible education programmes.
The inevitable other side to any project like this concerns raising money to pay for our infrastructure and support offers.
We didn’t – and don’t – want to be reliant on applying for grants, as we believe a diverse funding picture is fundamental to our future sustainability.
Registering with the Charity Commission coincided with their tightening of the rules and ensuring we were legitimate and fit for purpose. It meant lots of burning of midnight oil. But it made us question exactly how we would operate the two arms on a day-to-day basis.
It’s official, we’re a charity! But what next?
Late November saw us celebrating our credentials as a registered charity. But then we were faced with the ongoing question of how to market our charity and our activities.
How are we to communicate with potential beneficiaries – and also the private sector, whom we hope will take an interest in the charity.
As we had contacts with BVSC, contacting them for advice on the communications with potential customers was the obvious answer. The result, a meeting was organised this January where we explained our aims.
We were quietly blown away by the breadth and vision of their ideas and support.
“We can help with this and we can design that, we can send out emails to our client base, and have you thought about….”. Basically, making us think in practical terms what our next steps are, how to achieve them and how they could help in practical terms.
A lesson for us was that we should use our own expertise where we can, but not to be afraid to ask for help or use expertise where offered or available.
So here we are in early 2018: Charity Commission number sorted, customer focus agreed, marketing strategy and what we are going to deliver – and our roles.
So now it is suddenly beginning to feel real, achievable and part-exciting, part-scary!
Look out for our next blog post – on getting ready for our first event, connecting with potential beneficiaries – and having to deal with our banking system and how we are actively seeking money to fund it.
Until next time…
Steps to Your Healthy Future is a charity set up to support you and your health. Based around your long-term condition, we provide free practical advice and information to help you understand what your body needs to improve and maintain health.
Visit Steps to your Healthy Future Facebook page here
Understanding your Diabetes event – click here for more information