Guides and toolkits

Making it easier to set up and run a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation

This document from the Cabinet Office is a stocktake on progress in making it easier to run a civil society organisation, such as a charity, social enterprise or voluntary organisation. In the last two years, we have undertaken a comprehensive review of the regulation that affects the sector. We are also investing more than £39 million in the infrastructure that exists to help civil society do more. In this paper we focus on opportunities to:
• Further improve regulation and strip out frustrating bureaucracy
• Improve the support that front line charities and social enterprises receive
• Develop the sector skills and leadership needed to manage new opportunities and risks
You can download the document from the Cabinet Office website:

CharityComms Best Practice Guide

Show and tell: a Best Practice Guide to portraying beneficiaries and service users. This is the first in a series of guides CharityComms are producing over the coming months. The guide aims to help you resolve dilemmas and create your own guidelines, tailored to your specific issues, sensitivities and goals. The idea is to pull together experience and practices from across the charity communications sector and produce inspirational materials that help communicators build their skills and address their key challenges. You need to register to download the guide from:,YTXP,29Q746,2X1JU,1

Community Matters Resources Directory

Community Matters' Resources Directory is where you'll find all our publications and support materials including information sheets, toolkits and training materials.
Use the Search tool on the right to search by keyword or category, then sign in or register to download. Members should sign in now for free access to search and download the Online Guidance & Advice publications, formerly "OLGA - The Reference Manual". (You do need to register):  

Freedom of information guide

The Information Commissioner's Office has published a plain English 'Guide to Freedom of Information'. It is written mainly for those in public authorities and explains the obligations under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, answers many frequently asked questions and gives practical examples to illustrate how to apply the Act in practice. It may also be of interest to others. Visit the website at:
You could also take a look at this page which may be useful. The Freedom of Information Act and Environmental Information Regulations give you the right to access official information held by public authorities. It includes decisions about local hospitals, money raised from car parks and minutes of meetings. This information must be recorded, such as in documents, emails, notes, videos, letters and even audio tapes:

 A plain English guide to the Localism Act - Update

• This document describes the main measures of the Localism Act under four headings:
• new freedoms and flexibilities for local government
• new rights and powers for communities and individuals
• reform to make the planning system more democratic and more effective
• reform to ensure that decisions about housing are taken locally
• This document is designed to give an overview only. You can read the Act and its explanatory notes in full, on the parliament website at: (external link). The document Decentralisation and the Localism Act: an essential guide also gives further background. It explains how the principles that underpin the Localism Act also inform other government policies. It is only available online and can be downloaded from:  

Tools social workers can use to talk to children

Which techniques and resources should be in every social worker's toolkit when doing direct work with children? David Shemmings, Yvonne Shemmings, David Wilkins, Yvalia Febrer, Alice Cook, Fran Feeley and Claire Denham have put one together. The Munro Review highlighted that the only way to create a "child-centred" system was for social workers to have the time and the skill to undertake a great deal more direct work with children. Direct work needs to done in the right setting and involves more than asking a child "how are things?" Sometimes they need different media - paint, clay, pen and paper, puppets, virtual reality - to make sense of their "wishes and feelings". We offer practical demonstrations of direct work methods each of which seeks to understand the mind of the child and the child's world. Visit Community Care website at:

Toolkit - literacy, language and numeracy skills

The Learning and Skills Improvement Service has developed a new toolkit, designed to support voluntary and community organisations to respond to the literacy, language, communication and numeracy skills needs of their service users, staff and volunteers. Visit the website to find out more:

Young people's health toolkit

A comprehensive health toolkit which is suitable for all professionals and volunteers who work with young people has been launched. Making Health Easy: A Toolkit for Youth Leaders was created with input from expert partners such as the British Nutrition Foundation and has been developed for use in a variety of community settings. The toolkit covers health support across the areas of nutrition, physical activity and emotional wellbeing and will be available from the Make Space website free of charge. Make Space for Health provides lively, interactive and challenging programmes for young people, delivered in youth centres and other settings, to support them to manage their lifestyles in an enjoyable way. The toolkit should be available soon, so read more at:

Guidance on Mutuals and Social Enterprises: a Quick Guide

The law firm, Nabarro has published a quick guide to mutuals and social enterprises. This guide summarises what mutuals and social enterprises are, their policy and legal context within the Big Society and some of the issues and challenges associated with them. 

Resource Pack for Voluntary and Community Sector Groups

Leeds Infrastructure Consortium (LIC) has created a free resource pack offering advice and guidance to voluntary and community sector groups and organisations.
The pack has eight sections covering a range of topics, as follows:
1. Governance
2. Marketing and PR
3. Finance
4. Networks and Partnerships
5. Funding
6. Planning
7. Monitoring and Evaluation
8. Resources for Operation
The pack has been designed as a support pack for local organisations - mainly community and voluntary groups and small charities. It may be of use to larger organisations too. It is intended to provide resources for new and established groups to enable them to access the information they need to operate effectively and efficiently. 

Ready for Change Toolkit

Rocket Science's experience in developing the capacity of third sector organisations shows that a positive approach and readiness to embrace change is critical to designing and successfully implementing a plan for sustainability. This tool has been designed to understand how skills, systems and behaviours, support or prevent change and pinpoint areas of strengths and weakness. It will help you explore how well your governance, financial management, communication and development activities are working and identify where you may need to focus your energies to ensure that plans for sustainability are realistic and achievable. Ready for Change is easy to use, quick to complete and produces a helpful analysis and report. To download the tool please visit the website at: 


Reducing the time for office risk assessments

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has produced an online risk assessment tool which allows those working in low-risk office-based environments to do their risk assessment quickly and easily. It aims to "help cut back the time it takes to weigh up the hazards in offices to just 20 minutes avoiding unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy" for low risk activity. Visit the website at:

Charity Accounting online

A new online charity accounting toolkit is available from CIPFA (Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy), designed with the smaller voluntary and community organisation in mind. There is a demonstration module available. More details at:

New Health Activities Resource Pack from NYA

A new resource, Health Activities Resource Pack (HARP) has been launched by The NYA's Youth Work for Health team. HARP is a group work resource for use by professionals working with young people. It splits the health curriculum into four key strands - healthy lifestyle; healthy relationships and sex; mental and emotional well-being; and substance use - and provides an expert background briefing on each, together with a range of activities to explore each area in more depth. The pack, which was extensively tested with groups of young people all around England, features background briefings, over 60 group work activities, a photo pack and a DVD. HARP will be available to buy shortly. Visit for more information. If you are interested in buying a copy, register your interest by emailing

NCVO - Good Guides

NCVO's range of handbooks, the Good Guides, provide comprehensive information for all voluntary and community organisations to ensure they are working effectively. Aimed at beginners or those who are more experienced but looking for more guidance or a refresher, the Good Guides make it easy to follow best practice. Divided into clear chapters, they include checklists, legal information, changes in legislation and case studies to ensure they are clear and simple to use. The guides do cost around £25.00. Visit the website to find out more.