Small charities can feel confident that the sector wants them to survive and thrive
As I stood shivering on a remote station platform in Devon at 5:30am on Thursday morning I was hopeful of a day that would hold in store a number of things (and not just a train with heating and an open buffet car!). I was travelling to London to be part of the DCMS and IoF Small Charities Summit that would explore how we, as a sector, could champion the work of small charities, equip them to fundraise and help them grow for the future.
But can I make a confession? There was just a little bit of me that was concerned that whilst the day might well be full of good intentions, that would perhaps be all it delivered – a jovial consensus that small charities were great and we needed to help them (I’m not normally the negative type but it was early and I was cold). I am delighted to report that this summit was anything but a passive day of observations but it was all about action. I realised that from the moment I walked in the room! The Directory of Social Change, NCVO, the Small Charities Coalition, local government, major grant funders and statutory grant givers were all in attendance as well as the small charities that are the beating heart of our sector and the key organisations that support them (including the Heritage Alliance, the FSI, JustGiving and Localgiving to name but a few).
We were all there for action; this was about us tackling the issues identified in the ‘Fundraising Support for Small Charities’ report published by the IoF in June 2017 and making plans to empower small charities just when they need it the most.
And the need is there, with Localgiving research in 2016 showing that whilst almost 80% of charities surveyed expected demand for services to grow, less than 20% felt they could resource it. And fewer than one in four of them felt able to run a campaign to fundraise for the difference. In the face of a difficult environment for many, we acknowledged that there was no silver bullet – no one easy way to provide the support that can be crucial to small charities being able to survive and succeed to do even more.
We tackled, head on, the big barriers facing small organisations – lack of finance, geography and location, equality and access, lack of resources and skills and more besides. On every table there was at least one small charity able to bring their unique experience and thoughts to the discussion and together we explored creative solutions for bashing through those barriers and making sure the solutions get to the front line for small charities right across the country.
I left enthused, hopeful and confident that we all are committed to making some of these real, impactful, tangible solutions a reality for small charities in the coming months and years.
If you are small charity you have every reason to be full of optimism- your sector is fighting for you!