Championing Small & Medium-Sized Charities

We know small and medium-sized charities are best at reaching people and communities facing disadvantage yet they face many challenges. And we know there’s a gap in robust evidence about their unique contribution.

That’s why we’ve been building the evidence base through our research, which has exposed challenges and highlighted gaps in support for small charities. We’re harnessing this learning to shape our future influencing work and ultimately help them thrive, not just survive.

Building the evidence base for small charities 

As part of our focus on small and medium-sized charities, we have invested in a number of research projects to build the evidence base for their distinctive role and value in the voluntary sector and local communities.

We’re currently exploring how best to build the evidence base as we work towards uniting this data and publishing an annual ‘health check’ on the landscape small charities are operating in. We hope this project will increase the visibility of information on small charities with wider audiences and support the campaigning efforts of charities and partners moving forward.

Independent researcher Dr Cat Walker, Director of The Researchery is working with us to review the breadth and quality of the evidence currently available. Throughout Autumn 2019 we are reaching out to organisations who collect data on small charities and will continue working with our existing partners who have helped shape the early stages of this project. These include NCVO, the Small Charities Coalition, the FSI, LocalGiving, Locality, 360Giving and Sheffield Hallam University.

Any questions or comments about this project can be directed towards Alex Van Vliet, Research and Learning Manager,

Challenging commissioning & promoting grants

Research has shown that commissioning leads to particular difficulties. Our Commissioning in Crisis report brings together the experiences of small charities to spotlight the challenges small charities face in order to continue supporting local people in need.

We’re now working with government and commissioners to use this evidence to shape practice and support commissioners to better meet need. This includes the promotion of using grants rather than contracts and pushing for greater use of social value that recognises the full value of small and local charities..

Supporting small charities amid wider environment challenges

Small and medium charities across England and Wales face unprecedented uncertainty for their futures, with the impact of Brexit, economic uncertainty and growing pressures on local government threatening their survival.

To combat this, we’re supporting small charities to Face Forward, and campaigning for clear and decisive action from government, funders and large charities whose actions influence the survival of small charities.

We’re also exploring practical approaches to create lasting change by piloting Grow, a closed pilot programme designed to strengthen and grow small, local charities and community organisations in Redcar & Cleveland and Neath Port Talbot.

Helping small charities raise their voice

To help small charities shout about their important work, each year we run workshops and events for our grantees. Our Enhance support offer also helps our grantees develop their communications and influencing skills.

Alongside this, we use the Foundation’s external voice and influence to emphasise why local charities are important and what can be done to support them. We also fund a new policy role at the Small Charities Coalition to help them to lobby on behalf of the sector, and ensure the concerns of small and medium-sized charities are not ignored.

Strengthening the sector

We’ve exploring the potential for Civil Society – and crucially for small and medium-sized charities that make up 97% of our sector - to flourish in a fast changing world, and strengthening its ability to bring about change through co-funding initiatives such as Civil Society Futures and The Social Change Project.  

Responding to Government Consultations

Together with charities and other colleagues in the voluntary sector, we have made the following submissions: