Norfolk ProHelp

Meeting round the table

Partnering business with charities


Norfolk ProHelp is a network of approved professional firms committed to making a difference in our local community by providing free advice and support to the voluntary and not-for-profit sector.

Norfolk ProHelp matches community groups looking for support with professional firms that can help them. Our network includes law firms, accountants, surveyors, architects and digital agencies.

Since 2018, Norfolk Community Foundation has worked in partnership with Norfolk ProHelp to build the professional network and help more charities access the skills and expertise they need.

If you are a business that would like to get involved, find out more about being a Norfolk ProHelp member or get in touch with the NCF team.

The charity application process is complex with many pitfalls. Being able to ask questions around whether the governance structure chosen was the best for us, and being given clear advice on what makes a good application, has undoubtedly saved many hours of frustration. Attaining charitable status means we can apply to funds otherwise not available to us, and forge ahead.

Sue Buffin, Director of New-U Enterprises

Free professional skills available

 

Member businesses commit their time to provide a one-stop-shop for the voluntary sector to access free professional skills and expertise in a range of services.

Norfolk ProHelp can offer support one-to-one if you have a particular challenge to overcome, as well as group information and training sessions covering key issues affecting charities such as trusteeship, preparing budgets and annual accounts, and staff wellbeing.

Since its inception, the group has helped hundreds of different groups, providing professional support in areas such as:

  • Preparing business plans
  • Completing valuations & surveys
  • Conveyancing & lease negotiations
  • Providing advice on mergers
  • Marketing & website design
  • Flyers, brochures & print material
  • Providing architectural designs
  • Charity Commission and similar registrations
  • Updating charity constitutions
  • Employment issues
  • Charity trading, tax & VAT

How Norfolk ProHelp can support your charity

Who can apply for help

Norfolk ProHelp can support community organisations and charities that:

  • Have a track record of working within the local community
  • Are based in Norfolk, or clearly benefiting people in the county
  • Are unable to pay for professional services

Norfolk ProHelp can also help new organisations that need assistance to put in place structures that will enable them to deliver their work successfully, and secure funding.  This may include help with charity registration, development of relevant policies and assistance to present annual accounts.

Projects should be one-off, discrete pieces of work, rather than an ongoing requirement for support. So, for example, we can provide advice on the development of a marketing strategy, but not provide ongoing marketing support.

Conditions of support

ProHelp members undertake projects with the guiding principle that the work is carried out free of charge, but will be treated no differently to an instruction from a fee-paying client. ProHelp doesn’t give out grants.

Any support provided by members is given through the goodwill of the companies and their staff on a voluntary basis. As such, they set a limit on the amount of time they can offer any one project and sometimes may have to turn projects down if they do not have capacity at that time.

How to apply

You can complete an application form here, or contact the NCF team by email at prohelp@norfolkfoundation.com or call 01603 623958 to discuss your plans.

FAQs about Norfolk ProHelp

  • How does ProHelp work?

When you make an application to ProHelp, it will be presented to relevant companies in the professional network to see if the capacity and expertise is available to support your request.  If a match can be found, NCF will introduce you to the company, and you will have the opportunity to talk through your plans in more detail.  Following this, the company will confirm what support they can offer through Norfolk ProHelp, and if agreeable, activity will get underway.  You will then be working direct with the company in the same way as any paying client, but free of charge.

  • We’ve got an urgent problem to resolve – can ProHelp help us?

The timescale for ProHelp assistance can vary according to member staff capacity, so it’s unlikely that very short notice requests can be met.  When considering an application, a ProHelp member may wish to help, but will need to schedule in the work over the next few months in line with staff workloads.

  • What does a ‘one-off, discrete piece of work’ mean?

Support provided by ProHelp professionals is given solely through the goodwill of the member companies and their staff on a voluntary basis and as such, they will set a limit on the amount of time that they can offer to any one project.  This means that when you apply to ProHelp you should have considered what specific help you need, and be able to explain your requirements.

Members of ProHelp are more likely to spread their pro bono work between different projects for different organisations rather than work with just one organisation on a large time consuming piece of work.

  • Our project might need input from more than one company – is that possible?

We may be able to secure commitment from multiple ProHelp partners to enable your plans – for example, a surveyor, an architect and an engineer for a building renovation project – but we cannot guarantee this.

  • What types of projects are unlikely to be supported by ProHelp?

ProHelp is unlikely to support the following types of project:

  • Those which do not require particular professional expertise i.e. could be completed by anyone with the time
  • Groups who can afford to pay for professional advice
  • Urgent requests i.e. typically those that will need to be completed within four weeks
  • Assignments which will involve, or are likely to involve, mediation or litigation
  • Those which occur on a regular basis e.g. annual audits
  • ProHelp member firms will not normally undertake to produce a complete business plan, feasibility study or funding application on behalf of community groups – but may be able to advise on approach and process.
  • Can we apply for grant funding from NCF as well support from ProHelp?

Yes, we are happy to consider applications that combine both types of support – if fact, we may recommend ProHelp if your funding request includes any professional fees that may be covered through the scheme.

  • Can we discuss our project before making an application? 

You’re welcome to get in touch to discuss your plans – you can contact the NCF team by:

  • Calling us on 01603 623958 or email grants@norfolkfoundation.com – Advisors are available any time Monday – Thursday 9am-5pm, Friday 9am-4pm.
  • Book an online slot to talk through your plans, or discuss an existing project – you can book an online one-to-one through Eventbrite.  Slots are offered on the first Thursday of each month – click here to book your place