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A New Chapter for Rope

In our latest edition of NEWS from Rope, we announced we are writing an exciting new chapter for Rope. Copies of this announcement are below and we encourage you to read them to find out about the forthcoming changes. (Click on the images to view them in pdf format.)

As Rope enters a new chapter, we understand that you may have questions. We hope that the questions and answers below help to answer any queries about the changes coming but if you would like more clarity on anything or your question isn’t listed below please do contact us on office@rope.org.uk or 01494 433170

After much prayer and reflection, we have taken the decision to give Rope a new name. The former acronym – Relief for Oppressed People Everywhere – no longer relates accurately to what we do, and is no longer appropriate considering the huge improvements that have taken place within the International Development sector and our work. We no longer provide short term relief, (apart from responding to disasters where we have someone locally based and equipped to help), having chosen to move away from activities that can create dependency, and we accept it is simply not possible to be “everywhere”. However, our hearts are fully committed to working directly with the economically oppressed and disadvantaged to sustain lasting transformation, reaching communities and their families and intentionally raising up the next generation of local leaders. We are very excited about this possibility and feel we need a name that will help us take Michael Wood’s legacy on, reinvigorating ourselves and inspiring a new generation of supporters. We plan to announce the new name and logo in Spring 2021.

Originally the costs of running Rope were met by the Acorn Foundation, enabling Michael Wood to offer the 100% pledge to supporters. When this support was reduced, Friends of Rope was set up as a means for supporters to subsidise the operating costs and to be able to choose between directly supporting programmes work or our UK operations. In reality, it was the generous legacies from faithful supporters that have covered the vast proportion of our operations, and so our auditors were very clear in pointing out that the Friends of Rope mechanism no longer made sense in our accounts, since it was running at a substantial “loss”. It is very hard to recruit donors who will be happy to give purely to separate administrative costs, so Friends income has also been diminishing slowly.

Furthermore, we have looked carefully at the big picture, and our research has clearly shown that people unfamiliar with Rope are sceptical of the 100% model, recognising that in today’s world, it does not stand up as a realistic endeavour. This makes it very difficult to engage new supporters to Rope and was a significant factor in our decision to move away from the 100% model.

The 100% promise has served us well and we will honour this up to the point when Rope takes on a new name and branding, thereafter we shall seek to allocate costs clearly and maintain transparency in the way we work and in our reporting to supporters (see also Question 6). We will continue to offer our supporters the choice of which specific project to direct their funds to, keep the proportion of their gift going to cover operational costs to a minimum, and continue to ensure complete honesty and transparency in how we are using the funds we have been entrusted with.

There are a number of significant reasons for this.

  • Over the last 10 years, the legal and financial requirements placed on charities have increased enormously. Work and responsibility that used to be undertaken by a team of volunteers in the office could no longer by covered on a voluntary basis as the availability, commitment and depth of skill and knowledge required in order to meet our obligations has necessitated taking on paid staff.
  • In order to operate effectively in the world today, and to comply with current business, financial, data and employer regulations, all organisations require up to date, secure and professionally managed IT systems. Charities are no exception and this is a substantial cost which is fundamental to the legitimate operation of the whole organisation.
  • The world of international development has seen vast improvements in accountability, governance and monitoring, with the agenda moving away from short term relief to lasting, sustainable change. Rigorous monitoring and evidence of the impact of programmes is required in order to ensure our supporters’ donations are being used effectively and responsibly, which demands significant and skilled input from our Programme Management staff.
  • Rope has also needed to invest more in Fundraising. In the days of Rope’s foundations, Michael Wood was able to raise charity funds simply from speaking in local churches. However, Christian International Development, the charity sector in which Rope operates, has been shown to be the most competitive charity sector of all, and we have had to develop and grow our fundraising expertise and activity in order to ensure sustained and increased funding for our work.

Our desire is to have a professional and well-run charity, exercising good stewardship for all the funds that we are entrusted with, and we shall of course endeavour to keep our operational costs at an acceptable level.

We hope that all current supporters of Friends of Rope will continue to give as before, towards the full range of our work. A proportion of all gifts given towards the work will be used for funding the core operations in the same way as happens with almost all charities. We shall endeavour to keep these costs at an acceptable level in comparison with other small, well run charities.

We recognise that in the time we have been planning our new strategy, many supporters have still been donating to Rope on the understanding that 100% of their donation will be used directly for the programmes. Therefore, whilst we will no longer promise that this will be the case going forwards, we can assure you that funds donated up to now have been separated according to our previous pledge, and we are able to evidence this.

Due to the huge improvements in the practice of international development management in recent years, coupled with vastly increased demands on charities in terms of financial and legal requirements, the operational costs of running the charity have increased unavoidably. (Question 3 provides more detail on this). The majority of our operational costs were being met by generous legacies received by Rope, and contributions by supporters to Friends of Rope offered a subsidy for which we remain extremely grateful, but unfortunately the shortfall was beyond the reach of any appeal. Over the years, we have run campaigns to promote the need for funding for Friends of Rope but these have not resulted in a change in giving that would address the funding gap.

Furthermore, we have looked carefully at the big picture, and our research has clearly shown that people unfamiliar with Rope are sceptical of the 100% model, recognising that in today’s world, it does not stand up as a realistic endeavour. This makes it very difficult to engage new supporters to Rope and was a significant factor in our decision to move away from the 100% model.

We remain completely committed to working closely and effectively with our existing partners in order to help them develop to achieve lasting impact in their communities. For many of them, we will be enhancing their endeavours by adding a new level of activity especially designed to create sustainable livelihoods for the people and communities our partners are working with. In response to their requests we shall also be increasing our support for them through training and mentoring (capacity building) to equip them in the challenge of becoming more sustainable.

Whilst there is a change in terminology, in that we no longer refer to “Ropeholders”, preferring to talk about our programme leaders as “partners”, there is no change to the model of working with local, Christian visionaries. Some may be individuals, others may be churches or other non-government organisations, but all have a passion to see Christ’s love worked out through their work within their local communities.

 

We assess our current partnerships as having much potential to develop further sustainable livelihood activities and that will be what we concentrate upon in the short term. Where we are able to equip partners to become self sustaining and greatly reduce our grant funding, and as we grow our work, we will have scope to take on new partnerships. These will need to fit the future focus of our activity and that will influence our choice, however we are introduced to, or find out about them.

We can assure you that this will not impact the level of financial support which our programmes are receiving. Michael Wood’s approach to directly support local trustworthy people has not changed, nor will it change. In fact, we are seeking to invest more in our partnerships and work with them more deeply to achieve lasting transformation for the marginalised and disadvantaged communities we work with. We are excited to see our work is going from strength to strength.

At the most basic level, “relief aid”, also called “humanitarian aid,” focuses on immediate assistance in the wake of a crisis, and it’s generally intended to only be a short-term solution. It focuses on survival—keeping people alive when something catastrophic has happened or they have no source of income. A lot of the early Rope partnerships responded to dire poverty by providing feeding programmes and other basic needs, with the intention of then moving on to giving people a hand-up, not a handout. We will always respond to a crisis if we have partners on the ground who are able to put together a response, e.g. our Nepal Earthquake appeal.

 

But the main aim of our work today is to achieve lasting impact through sustainable initiatives (development aid). This is about strategic assistance intended to make long-term improvements to a community or to a family’s overall standard of living and quality of life. Think of it as “helping people help themselves.” This is not done “for” people but “with” people, empowering them to help themselves and see change in their family and community. This is why the word relief no longer fits the way we work.

At Rope we have always sought to bless all of our partners and we will continue to adopt the same approach as we have in the past when it comes to needing to end our agreement with a project or partner. There are many different reasons for ending a partnership, but we will always work alongside them to formulate a sensible plan for the future. In cases where a project is continuing or changing, this strategy will include enabling the sourcing of alternative funding or income generation and our priority will be to do as much as we can to leave the partner in a place where they can continue in a sustainable way, and be honouring to God and to them in the parting.

If you are giving regularly to a specific programme which is coming to an end, we will of course contact you directly to share this with you and to offer an alternative project where your giving can be directed.

At Rope we remain committed to ensuring that all the children currently in the homes we support will continue to receive funding to see them through to Further Education as a minimum. This means that you will be able to continue to support the children you are currently supporting. However, these Brighter Future home projects will eventually be phased out in favour of us directing our efforts to programmes for which we have the expertise and resources required to provide effective support. The global situation concerning the operation of children’s homes has seen fundamental change over the last decade, recognising the value of children receiving the support and care of closer family placement rather than being “placed” in homes. Huge advancements in the areas of safeguarding and understanding of child development now demand focused, experienced and specialist input when it comes to the operation of children’s homes and the care of children in the community. We consider that this is best undertaken by government backed initiatives or large organisations. If you are giving regularly to a specific programme which is coming to an end, we will of course contact you directly to share this with you and to offer an alternative project where your giving can be re-directed.

Please be assured that we remain extremely grateful for your regular gift, and we do not wish to inconvenience you in any way. We are therefore working with our bank to minimise any action required from you, with the aim that the bank will transfer your existing regular gift to our new account name. However, should we require you to do anything we will of course be in touch.

If you are giving regularly to a specific programme which is coming to an end, we will of course contact you directly to share this with you and to offer an alternative project where your giving can be directed. This change will not require a change in your standing order or direct debit.

We would like to reassure our donors that the funds for this project have not been taken from donations received from our supporters, either to Rope or Friends of Rope, but rather, have come from the legacies left to us by Acorn Foundation and by Michael and Jacqueline Wood. We are confident that Michael would not have shied away from investing what was necessary in order to ensure the long-term continuation of the charity’s work.

Visits to our partners are determined on a variety of criteria, including the level of overall grant funding, review of future plans and the need to deliver training and capacity building workshops. We do not envisage a change in the frequency of visits unless affected by issues such as Covid-19 and we remain mindful of climate change considerations in our planning.

Prayer and intercession remain vital in underpinning all that we aim to achieve and we are extremely grateful for your ongoing prayer commitment.  We will continue to provide regular communication in order to guide and lead this valued prayer support.

Yes, absolutely! We will still be so grateful to all of our supporters who choose to run local or personal events in order to raise funds for our work.  Such events in the past have included running and sporting challenges, craft fairs, concerts and simply asking for donations to Rope in lieu of gifts for a significant birthday or anniversary.  We will still welcome highly any such endeavours and will look to support you as far as we can with the provision of promotional materials and sponsorship/giving mechanisms.

We will continue to run events from time to time which prove to be beneficial in raising funds and generating support.  In particular, our well-loved WomenWalking4Women event will remain a significant event in our calendar.

Yes, very much so, and we will be unpacking that in future communications.

We are extremely grateful to all of our supporters who have taken the amazing step of naming us in their Will.  Generous legacies left to us make an incredible difference to our work, so thank you for doing this.

You should not need to change your Will as long as it mentions our registered Charity Commission number, 1069608.