Third Sector Excellence Awards: Finance Team

Members of South Yorkshire Community Foundation's finance team impressed our judges with their can-do attitude.

South Yorkshire Community Foundation finance team
South Yorkshire Community Foundation finance team

Criteria:
For a team that has worked together to achieve or exceed its targets

Judging panel:
Harriett Baldwin, deputy chair, Futurebuilders England
Stephen Brooker, chair, Russam GMS charities practice
Rohan Hewavisenti, director of finance and business development, British Red Cross
Colin Nee, chief executive, Charities Evaluation Services

Finalists:
Crisis UK
South Yorkshire Community Foundation

Winner: South Yorkshire Community Foundation
The finance team at the South Yorkshire Community Foundation faced an urgent new challenge when much of the county was hit by the worst floods in living memory in June 2007. The floods claimed the lives of two people, forced thousands to flee their homes and left a trail of damage that Sheffield City Council expects will cost £30m to repair.
With thousands of people left homeless and with few possessions, the charity formed a Flood Disaster Relief Fund. The three-person finance team was almost overwhelmed by the number of donations, but grants had to be transferred quickly to people in desperate need, while the team needed to keep its administration costs to a minimum.
More than £1.6m was raised in total and the charity had to cope with 3,300 extra payments – a 750 per cent increase on the regular number.
The team began to produce a daily report of receipts and payments to meet the huge demand for information from local people and the media, and the system allowed the charity to raise new funds more effectively.
It also created a database for disaster recovery payments, which it hopes to pass on to other charities. The independent consultants brought in to assess the effectiveness of the effort said the database was “outstanding”.
A spokeswoman for the South Yorkshire Community Foundation said: “The devastation to lives and communities was substantial – the worst in peacetime. We had the knowledge, skills and experience to help. All our staff knew that they were doing something vital that would make a real difference to people’s lives.”
The judges were impressed by the speed and effectiveness with which the team responded, and by the number of cheques handed out in a short period. “These people gave a high level of support and showed a can-do attitude,” said Colin Nee, one of the judges. “There was a step change in their performance that allowed the charity to mount an effective response to a crisis.”

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