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Small charities feel unloved by national and local government, apparently.

Small Charities Report 2018.pngSmall Charities Coalition Research Report 2018

The SCC recently surveyed their members about how valued they feel by government and what would make things better. The results showed that small charities feel unloved by both national and local government. Only 3% said they felt valued and over 50% felt unvalued. 1 in 8 charities selected a
score of zero, despite this not being listed as an option on the “how valued do you feel” scale (of 1-10). Unfair commissioning and tender processes, lack of engagement and consultation and absence of sufficient funds are three of the main reasons. The full results and report are here (pdf).

At national government level, the most frequent response to what would improve the situation was recognition and appreciation of what small charities do. This was closely followed by small charities naming more and sustainable funding as their top priority. I’m sure these are linked; if a charity can’t demonstrate the impact it makes, it won’t be recognised/appreciated and it’s unlikely that potential funders will be keen to support future projects. There simply isn’t the funding available from the public sector that was seen prior to 2008. Commissioners and funders, rightly, want to be sure that the charities and projects they support will really make a difference. Those charities that haven’t been measuring their impact will struggle to be taken seriously. I also suspect that some who have been measuring their impact may not have a compelling case to share with funders.

At local government level, small charities wanted to see an end to “professional” (competitive) tender processes for social welfare projects; believing it to be an unfair playing field, biased towards the “big players” in the market. I can sympathise with this view. As a small consultancy business, I have given up pitching for business that requires me to submit reams of (electronic) paper that appear to have little value in relation to the work required. On the occasions where I do pitch for such work, it is always in partnership with other small consultancies where we can demonstrate unique capabilities and better value for money than the bigger suppliers.

The first conclusion in this report is that small charities, as a whole, feel largely unloved
and unvalued by both local and national government. My recommendation for any small charity would be to tap into one of the sources of Pro Bono support such as PBOR or Measuring the Good that can help you develop a robust Impact Measurement system. However, you need a clear strategy, preferably with some form of Theory of Change, before you can even think about measurements. There are also some really interesting opportunities for charities to up their game by making better use of digital technologies.

I’ve written before on topics such as Impact Measurement, Performance Improvement, Digital Transformation and Fundraising:

Charities: why bother with digital transformation?

Measuring impact in the Third Sector (Pro Bono OR Resources)

The challenge of income diversification for the third sector

Sho-Net launch The Platform for improving charity fundraising processes

Process Improvement in Charities

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