Third Sector Excellence Awards: Enterprise

Online information service YouthNet turned a handsome profit with minimal outlay.


For an organisation that has made effective use of its brand, knowledge or assets to increase its income

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

Broadway Homelessness and Support
Global Action Plan
The Grandparents' Association

Winner: YouthNet

YouthNet's website has for a long time provided a mass of information for young people, from an any-questions-answered service about money, education, sex and health to a huge list of volunteering opportunities.

The website is intended to play a major part in YouthNet's charitable purpose of helping young people make their way through life. But the charity has also found a way of using its web content to generate income.

As part of efforts to double its income by 2010, YouthNet has syndicated 2,000 articles on its site to other websites, charging them to reproduce content generated by the charity under their own brand names. The initiative, which spreads YouthNet's message, has been picked up by 27 organisations, including the Financial Services Authority, Microsoft, Norwich Union and HBOS.

Providing details of volunteering opportunities on the syndicated websites has also helped other charities increase their chances of attracting volunteers from companies.This innovative fundraising approach has helped the development team raise £125,000, which has been invested in providing better services.

The judges were impressed by the fact that YouthNet was spreading its own message and making a profit for a small outlay. "It is providing licence fees, so its costs are virtually nil," said Stephen Brooker, one of the judges. "It is also bringing new money into the sector that wouldn't otherwise be given to charities."

Highly commended: The Grandparents' Association
The association provides a service that links law firms with grandparents, helping them challenge for custody or win closer contact with grandchildren.The charity makes money from lawyers by charging them for the opportunity to make contact with new clients. At the same time, it helps beneficiaries gain access to legal advice.

"This was a clever thing to do," said Rohan Hewavisenti. "For a small organisation, it's a lot of income."

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