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Minimum Standards for Grantmaking in the Youth Social Action programme

BBC Children in Need uses our Minimum Standards for grantmaking to look at the strengths of an organisation when you apply to us. We look at areas including your finances, governance, and safeguarding.

Normally, we expect you to have met all of these standards at the time you apply. If you didn’t, we would not be able to assess your application further or award any funding.

Whilst this is helpful in handling the high volume of applications we receive, it means that at times we are unable to support work which meets the aims of our funding.

What is different for this programme?

Working with grass roots groups who might need some development support is key to the aims of the Youth Social Action fund.

  • Organisations that do not currently meet all the Minimum Standards for Grantmaking can apply.
  • They will be expected to work towards meeting the Minimum Standards if they are awarded funding.
  • This work can be done during the development phase of the funding.

What if you don’t meet a number of our standards?

This fund is designed to get children and young people to take an active and leading role in excellent social action work. We want to see that this work would take place in a safe and empowering environment and we can offer support to help you achieve that.

However, if an organisation requires significant development support to meet our grantmaking standards, we are less likely to award funding. This is because the level of work and time needed would be too great for this particular programme.

The NSPCC offers a free Self-Assessment Tool to help organisations check their current Safeguarding and child protection arrangements. We recommend you use this tool before you apply.

We will talk to you in more detail about our grantmaking standards during the Information Sessions so we do encourage you to come along and find out more.

Our standards at a glance…

To meet our standards, your organisation should have:

  • A governing document which shows:
    • Charitable aims suitable for work with children and young people in the UK
    • Your organisation is not for profit
    • Any funds would be transferred to another not for profit organisation with similar charitable aims should your organisation close. This is sometimes known as a Dissolution Clause or Asset Lock
  • A governing board (e.g. Trustees or Directors) of at least three members. At least one member should be independent
  • A minimum of four governing board meetings a year
  • A formal written agreement for payments of any board members
  • Official accounts or financial records which can be used to complete our Financial Template
  • The accounts or financial records must show that your organisation is solvent
  • A process showing financial transactions and payments are reviewed by two people who authorise payments and are not related.
  • A clear and robust Safeguarding Policy in your organisation’s own name
  • A named safeguarding representative within the organisation
  • Appropriate and regular Safeguarding training for staff and volunteers
  • Regular background checks for all people working with children

What do we mean by…

A governing document is a legal document which represents the rule book for the way your organisation will operate. It is recommended that it contains:

  • what the organisation is set up to achieve (purposes)
  • how the organisation goes about achieving its purposes (powers)
  • how the organisation is managed
  • what happens if the organisation closes

It should also contain details on:

  • how often the governing board meets
  • how to appoint members of the governing board and how long they can act as members of the governing board
  • if and how trustees can be paid

A statement that described the purpose of the organisation. The aims must be for public benefit and must be appropriate for working with children and young people.

All income is used to achieve the organisation’s charitable aims and not paid out to members, shareholders or owners.

A dissolution clause or asset lock describes what happens to any property or money if the organisation closes. The clause should say that these are given to another organisation with charitable aims.

CICs must have an asset lock and must name the selected organisation which funds will be given to. This other organisation should have charitable aims.

Board members who are not related to each other or living with each other.

A meeting of all or most of the governing board members. This can be online or in person at which minutes or notes are recorded to show what was discussed and any decisions made.

The value of your assets (cash, property etc.) is greater than the value of your liabilities (loans, staff wages, utility bills etc.)

If you pay members of your governing body for services outside of their role as a member of the governing body (e.g. as a consultant or a sessional member of staff) you should have:

  • a written agreement that explains what a member of the governing body can be paid to do, when, and how often they can be paid and how much they can be paid
  • a conflict of interest policy in place that details how decisions around payments for an individual will be managed by the governing body

If you are a charity registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales this must be in your organisations governing document or in another document agreed by the Charity Commission.

If you are a registered charity in Scotland you must meet all of the following conditions:

  • there must be nothing in the governing document of the charity that says you cannot pay a member of your governing body
  • less than half the total number of charity trustees are getting paid from the charity
  • there is a written agreement between the charity and the charity trustee
  • the written agreement sets out the maximum amount to be paid, and
  • the charity trustees have approved the payment

If you are a charity registered in Northern Ireland you must meet the following conditions:

  • there must be a written agreement between the charity and the charity trustee or connected person setting out the amount or maximum amount to be paid
  • the charity trustees must approve the agreement
  • less than half the total number of charity trustees are getting paid from the charity
  • there must be nothing in the governing document of the charity that says you cannot pay a member of your governing body
  • the charity trustee being paid must not take part in any decisions about the making of the agreement, the acceptability of the service provided, or setting the price

If you are a Community Interest Company this must be clearly detailed in your governing document.

We are not asking you to submit your official accounts at this stage. However, we do expect all organisations to have formally approved  accounts. To be formally approved, a copy of your accounts must be signed by the Chair or Treasurer of your governing board. We expect that this is available should we request it as part of the application process.

Your accounts should:

  • be no more than 18 months old and be signed and dated by the Chair or Treasurer of your Governing Body
  • include an income statement showing all income and expenditure and a balance sheet detailing your assets, liabilities and reserves

Ideally your income, expenditure, and reserves should be broken into unrestricted and restricted activity/ funds. However we recognise that some organisations are not required to do this by their regulator.

If your organisation is new and doesn’t have accounts yet we would ask you to provide a financial forecast if your organisation is in the first 12-18 months of operation. A financial forecast should include at minimum projected income and expenditure with some planning / clarity around how you will raise funds.

If you do not have an accounts document you can use our Financial Template. To complete this you will need to have a record of your income, expenditure, and reserves as well a breakdown of any assets and liabilities.

Restricted Funds are funds that can only be used for a specific purpose. For example: a grant from a funder to deliver a project is restricted to only being spent on that project.

Unrestricted funds are grants or donations that can be used in any way that is appropriate to achieve the organisation’s charitable aims. Donations from members of your local community are an example of unrestricted donations.

An asset is a resource that is owned by an organisation that has value. They are property or items that can be sold or exchanged for cash.

Examples of assets:

  • Cash
  • Investments
  • Office equipment or machinery
  • Property
  • Company-owned vehicles

A liability is something that an organisation owes to another organisation.Examples of liabilities:

  • Bank loans or mortgages
  • Money owed to suppliers
  • Staff wages

This is a policy in your organisation’s own name.

Your Safeguarding Children policy includes clear steps to take in the event of an incident or disclosure, including who to inform and how to contact them.

This person is commonly known as a ‘Designated Safeguarding Lead’. They are responsible for managing referrals to social services, reporting when problems are discovered and keeping internal records up to date. They should keep up to date with any changes in this area and attend training to support them to carry out their role. More information can be found here.

  • Your Safeguarding training should be delivered to all staff, volunteers and board members who have face-to-face contact with Children and Young people Training must be appropriate to the nature of the work being delivered and must be refreshed regularly. We advise that this is at least every three years.
  • Training should cover both Safeguarding best practice and a briefing on the organisation’s Safeguarding policies and procedures

All people working with children are subject to relevant background checks i.e. Disclosure & Barring Service in England and Wales, Disclosure Scotland in Scotland or Access NI in Northern Ireland. This includes all staff, management committee, trustees, or volunteers, who have direct contact with children. Checks must be refreshed regularly. We advise that this is at least every three years.

If you are in England and Wales and use the Update Service you should have a process in place to regularly check if there have been any updates or changes. We advise that this is at least every three years.

If you are in Scotland and use Disclosure Scotland PVG check you do not need to refresh or check background checks as this is continually monitored by Disclosure Scotland.


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