Government, funders and large charities must take urgent action if small charities are to survive turbulent times ahead according to new analysis published by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales.

Facing Forward presents a candid analysis of the ten-upcoming political, economic, social and technological changes which will dramatically affect the operating landscape for the 65,000 small and medium charities working at the heart of communities across England and Wales.

Facing Forward

With the impact of Brexit, economic uncertainty and growing pressures on local government adding unprecedented uncertainty for their futures, the analysis offers small charities a robust framework of how they can take action and adapt by diversifying their income, developing collaborations and sustaining their staff, before it’s too late.

The report also calls for clear and decisive action from other stakeholders whose actions influence the survival of small charities:  

  • National and local government must use appropriate commissioning processes when securing public services
  • Funders must fund charities to build their capacity and effectiveness rather than constantly seeking innovation and
  • Larger charities must seek to collaborate with small charities rather than compete against them for public service contracts

Aimed at the pressured, time poor CEO or Trustee of any small to medium sized charity, Facing Forward makes for essential reading for those charities battling on the frontline of public service delivery. It paints an alarming picture of a future with small charities closing and communities losing vital support at a time of growing need, if charities themselves and other stakeholders do not take action.

The message is clear – change is happening and the survival of small charities depends on their ability to prepare for the future and the support they need from others.

Commenting on the analysis, Paul Streets, Chief Executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales says:

“For many small and local charities, issues like Brexit and the changing political landscape can be difficult to plan for if you’re facing a constant battle to deliver essential public services, with ever dwindling resources. Charities want to be prepared and we hope Facing Forward helps them face up to the hurricane of change heading their way and plan a way forward, but the responsibility doesn’t end there. We’re doing our bit by improving our grant making and continuing to lobby for change, but Government, other funders and larger charities must also set out how they will support small  charities through the tough times ahead. The future of too many essential public services and charities working at the heart of local communities is at risk if we don’t collectively act now.” 

Michelle Hill, Chief Executive Officer at TLC: Talk, Listen, Change said:

“We’re committed to providing essential counselling, therapy and mediation services to people across Manchester that just isn’t available elsewhere. But it’s a tough climate out there for any small charity and we’re all too aware of the need to be front of foot in these challenging times. Facing Forward will help as we plan our strategy for the next three years ensuring we are well placed to continue to evolve and move forward so we can do more than survive and continue making a positive difference to people’s lives.” 

Sarah Mitchell, Chief Executive at Carers Network added:

“Charities like ours are operating in a fiercely competitive and rapidly changing environment. To survive it’s essential to have an open mind, to plan and keep your heart in the right place. When the world around is changing unpredictably it’s tempting to ditch longer term planning, but our three-year strategy helps us stay line with our charitable aims- to identify real opportunities and avoid blind alleys. Keeping unpaid carers at the heart of what we do also keeps us on track- reminding us to meet carers’ changing needs, even where that means reinventing what we do or how we do it.” 

In response to the analysis, Lloyds Bank Foundation sets out a clear plan of action of how it can better support small charities through the turbulent times ahead:

1.      Providing greater financial stability for small charities – In recognition of the growing struggle charities face raising income, the Foundation is offering some charities it funds, a further three years funding with no new grant application processes, enabling charities to focus their efforts on supporting people in need.  

 2.      Influencing the policy and operating environment for small charities – A new £100,000 investment in the Small Charities Coalition, to fund its policy and engagement work so the concerns and views of small charities can be better advocated for and represented in policy discussions with Government.

 3.      Evidencing the social and economic value of small charities: A new independent study by respected researchers from Sheffield Hallam University, IVAR and Open University will seek to uncover robust evidence about the distinctive value small charities offer to individuals, communities and the taxpayer to help make a stronger case for support. 

You can download a copy of Facing Forward here.