AVOCADO+ Non-Profit Accelerator Programme 2023
Published 21 September 2023
We’re delighted that twelve brilliant BAMER-led non-profit organisations completed the AVOCADO+ Accelerator Programme in 2022-23: Active Horizons, Ashoks Vision, Breadline London, Bridging Barriers, Da’aro Youth Project, Minority Matters, FAST London, Five X More, Get Rid of and Donate, Out & Proud African LGBTI, Santé Refugee Mental Health Access Project, and Soccology.
Sarah Robson, Project Lead at Da’aro Youth Project, said:
“Since we were awarded the first prize from the Money4YOU grant in December 2022 [following Dragons Den], our organisation marked a turning point in our journey. We owe a great deal of our success to our dedicated mentor, Hemant Mistry, from AVOCADO+, who provided invaluable guidance and support throughout the application process for the Community Lottery Fund. As a result of our collaborative efforts, we have been awarded a substantial grant of £245,000, which will be spread over the next three years.
“The courses and resources offered by Money4YOU have played a pivotal role in our achievements, equipping us with essential knowledge and skills. This newfound support has empowered us to take significant strides towards establishing a robust organizational structure and governance, driving our efficiency, and honing our focus on delivering high-quality services to young asylum seekers and refugees from the Horn of Africa.”
About the organisations
While most people registering for #BootCamps were from registered charities (50.3%) or social enterprises (27.6%), a significant proportion (21.0%) were individuals or from unregistered organisations. We think the diversity of topics and the wide expertise of trainers at #BootCamps make them attractive to organisations with a range of legal structures.
Seven organisations in the main AVOCADO+ cohort are structured as charities, four are Community Interest Companies (social enterprises), and one is an unincorporated community association.
Most organisations in the cohort were based in East and South London, and all were within Greater London.
”[ACOVADO+ is] relevant to where our organisation is as a one-year-old CIO. So much great information to move forward with and grow. Definitely recommend. You are learning from the best! We loved the first session, it has allowed us to meet other charity founders of BAME backgrounds and network and share resources and knowledge.Shofa MiahAshoks Vision International
Headquarters locations for organisations in the 2022-23 AVOCADO+ cohort. Map imagery from MapCustomizer, © OpenStreetMap contributors.
The organisations we support through AVOCADO+ vary greatly in annual income, from just-formed groups with zero income and micro-groups under £5k turnover to small charities over £250,000. All the organisations on the 2022-23 cohort turned over significantly less than £500,000 a year.
About the training
During the course, a variety of organisations won grants, in spite of intense time requirements for coursework and training events. We’re proud to say some organisations’ grant income during their AVOCADO+ Fellowship exceeded their previous year’s annual turnover.
”Social investment would not have been something we would consider, however with the correct information and the right guidance, it could be a way forward for the future of our organisation.Amanda InnissThe Amity Project
Thanks to the practical, hands-on format of #BootCamp events, which we have emphasised over many years, attendees largely felt confident about applying what they’d learnt.
”The course has given me an enhanced understanding of funders’ perspectives. This will help me when writing funding applications.Yeukai TaruvingaActive Horizons
Pre-event evaluation data from our first #BootCamp of the year are absent due to an adeministrative error.
The confidence scores on a numeric scale (1 – Low to none, 2 – Fair, 3 – Good, 4 – Excellent) improved by 71.5% on average. We saw the greatest increases on corporate, major donor, and events fundraising, income generation strategy, and building a case for support, and the smallest on bid writing, financial management, and prospect research. Generally, the smallest increases in confidence were in more generalist areas that attendees are more likely to have come across outside of the charity sector, and the most significant were in more specialist charity-specific areas.
We saw similar results when participants measured their knowledge of the #BootCamp topic before and after events. The increase in knowledge was 53.6% on average, roughly comparable to the increase in confidence, indicating a good balance between theoretical and practical training on the course.
The smallest increases in knowledge were in approaching grant makers, bid writing, and income generation, and the largest were in cases for support, financial management, and commissioning and contracts.
”I think that Liz's presentation skills were very good, as she was relaxed and spoke calmly. I liked that she did not use a lot of jargon but very straightforward language. She answered questions thoroughly.Damaris HernandezCommunity Centre Pueblito Paisa
We asked attendees to name the most important things they hoped to learn from the session. In many cases, they fed back to us the main topics from the session, indicating a low level of familiarity with the topics pre-event.
Asked after the event about what they’d found most useful, attendees again often mentioned the main topics, showing an appetite for further learning—which they’re supported to do through AVOCADO+ with their assigned consultant.
”Having struggled with funding applications for our organisation, the training course has made me to think differently in how to approach funding strategies, including creating a strong case.Edrisa KiyembaOut and Proud African LGBTI
”This was an excellent day for learning, networking and sharing experiences. A real and valuable insight into the important areas of fundraising and having a sustainable organisation. I would recommend to anyone.Abdul Rob
On average, participants rated aspects of the training as ‘Excellent’ 54% of the time, ‘Good’ 45%, and ‘Poor’ 1%. No participants rated any aspect of the #BootCamps as ‘Very poor’ at any point in the year.
The most highly-rated aspects by far were the trainer’s knowledge of the subject area, confidence responding to questions, and interaction and relationship building with learners. The lowest-rated aspects were the quality of resources used and the range of training methods, although the vast majority of responses still rated the latter two as ‘Excellent’ or ‘Good’.
”Knowing the five pathways to fundraising is a wonderful approach, enhanced by the 15 key questions needed to complete funding applications. Really loved it.Harriet NyanziBreadline London
We asked attendees about the most important points they learnt, and wanted to implement, after the training.
”The tasks really helped me to understand the difference between outputs and outcomes. The logic model was a new term but a very important one that we will be developing.Marie HenryBreadline London
The responses suggest a low level of familiarity before the course with the terminology and jargon of fundraising techniques, methods, and avenues. The survey results, along with our observations at events themselves, suggest that the AVOCADO+ course helps relate technical and bureaucratic terminology to people’s existing experiences and work in their community.
This link helps non-profit leaders navigate the funding and regulatory environments in which they work, strengthening their income generation, legal compliance, and long-term sustainability.
”There is so much to know when it comes to generating income in the voluntary sector. This course with Money4YOU has provided me with the most comprehensive guide to raising funding for my organisation.Celia TummingsLerato Community Initiative
Potential for improvement
One organisation said they had struggled to attend the course on Fridays due to other work commitments. Although scheduling events with a large variety of voluntary organisations will always be challenging, we’ll continue to review our training calendar to maximise accessibility.
Another organisation said: “For organisations that are already established some of the training was not compatible and felt like time could have been better spent.” Catering to the range of organisations at different stages that join the AVOCADO+ course is always a challenge, but this year’s feedback indicates most trainers struck a very good balance between beginner and advanced content. We also survey participants before the start of each training day, but it’s evident we should do so further in advance to make sure trainers take it into account and can accurately gauge the cohort’s range of existing experience and expertise.