Part of the aim of the Back Britain’s Charities campaign has been to raise awareness of the important work that charities do in communities across Britain, and in the past we’ve highlighted research showing that charities have seen a significant rise in demand for their services. The recession included a drop in disposable income for many people, which means that they are increasingly turning to charities to help them through difficult times.
As regular readers will know, we’ve been keen to get charities to share their experiences with us to help demonstrate the need for the important work that they do, in addition to the impact that the recession has had on their ability to provide support and services to people with nowhere else to turn.
Getting data about the reality for charities isn’t always easy, and we’re delighted that ACEVO has launched a new Social Sector Tracker Survey which they will be using to inform their priorities ahead of the writing of manifestos for the election in 2015. They’ll be listening to what the data tells them about the sector and looking to see how that information can be used to call for a strengthening of the charity sector.
The first survey is now open for responses, and focuses on the value of charity, as well as investigating levels of economic confidence in the sector. This is an area in particular need of scrutiny as charities wait to see whether the return of growth to the economy leads to a consequent improvement in their fortunes.
You can take part in the survey here, and we’re encouraging all Back Britain’s Charities supporters to take ten minutes of their time to respond in order to build up a picture of the health of the sector. The survey is open for responses until 7th March, so please do use it as an opportunity to express your hopes and concerns for the months ahead!
There was good news for charities last week, with the announcement from the Charity Commission that the income of registered charities in England and Wales rose by almost £3bn in 2013, meaning that the total income of charities now surpasses £61bn.
This equates to an increase of more than 5 per cent from the previous year, which suggests that the return of growth to the economy is tallying with an improvement in charity fortunes.
However the income of the largest charities, classified by the Charity Commission as those who have income of more than £10m, saw a rise of more than 7%, which suggests that the growth in income is not equally spread across the whole of the charity sector.
As NCVO’s Karl Wilding told Civil Society, there could also be a slightly misleading picture being formed if there are a few new large organisations entering the register, which could account for the majority of the growth reported. He also warned that the headline figure cannot be used as a barometer for the whole sector if it is disproportionately skewed towards larger charities.
Whilst any boost in charity finances should be celebrated, there are still great concerns about the ability of charities to meet the problems posed by increasing demand for the services that they provide. This problem is particularly pronounced amongst smaller charities, and these figures suggest that more needs to be done to ease the burden they are dealing with.
The Back Britain’s Charities campaign has been calling on all people to do their bit to support charities across the country, and at party conference we were explaining that 9% of people are responsible for two thirds of all charitable activity. We need to do more to get more people engaged with giving.
Speaking of our conference activity, regular readers might remember our people power theme from Glasgow, Brighton and Manchester last year. Our stand was visited by the likes of Justine Miliband, and it looks like she might have passed on what she heard to her husband. Ed Miliband’s speech last week about public services included the idea of introducing greater people power to the public sector, so it looks like our message hit home!
The Charity Finance Group, Pricewaterhouse Cooper and the Institute of Fundraising, have released their annual survey ‘Managing in a downturn’, the 7th since the economic crisis began in 2008.
The survey asks senior fundraisers and finance professionals how the recession has impacted upon the charity sector. With early signs that the economy is recovering this year, it will be interesting to see the results. In particular, it will be useful to benchmark this year’s results against the last couple of years when the sector was really struggling to see if the slight improvement in the economy has trickled down to the charity sector.
Over 400 charities responded to the survey last year, highlighting how they are responding to both a cut in funding and an increase in the demand for services. Key findings from last year’s survey found 9 in 10 charities reported a squeeze on fundraising, 67 per cent reported demands on their services had increased and nearly half (42 per cent) reported that they might have to dip into their cash reserves.
Figures released in January by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated the UK economy was expected to grow by 2.5 per cent this year. The British Chambers of Commerce have revised up their predictions for both this year and next year, albeit with some caveats.
Pricewaterhouse Cooper Director, Ian Oakley-Smith noted that ‘many charities are adjusting well to the “new normal” taking positive steps to understand the changes that continue to be needed’. He goes on further to say ‘..the results of this survey will provide further evidence as to the scale of the challenge that continues to face the sector’.
How is YOUR charity faring this financial year? Have you noticed a positive change, or does the situation remain largely the same? The findings of this survey will be of interest to the sector, so make sure your voice is part of that conversation. The deadline for completing the survey is Friday 14 February and can be accessed here.
Good news from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs! Revised figures from HMRC have shown that for 2012/13 a record £155 million was donated to charities through the payroll giving scheme. And another record has fallen with the total number of employees engaged in the scheme passing the one million mark for the first time.
The initial figures released by HMRC in summer 2013 showed an increase on the previous year of just £6 million through payroll giving. However they have now drastically revised those figures up revealing a true increase of £37 million compared to the previous year.
This translates to an impressive 31% increase in the value of donations on the previous year and an even larger 39% increase in the number of employees participating in the scheme. This will be welcome news to Britain’s charities who are keen for more people to give regularly, thus allowing them to better plan for the future.
Peter O’Hara, managing director of Workplace Giving, noted that it is unlikely there is just one factor at work but rather a variety of factors to explain such a dramatic rise. This includes more employers signing up their organisations to the scheme and more employees being aware of the ability to give through their payroll. He said that ‘visibility of payroll giving has definitely increased’.
Payroll giving, which allows employees to give to charities through their salaries before tax, means when donating £1 the employee only pays 80p with the taxman paying the rest. Payroll giving has seen a steady increase in income since its introduction in 1987 and these latest figures are a reason to be enthusiastic. Even so, a report by the Charities Aid Foundation found that, as of 2012 just 3% of the workforce is enrolled in the scheme. That figure is relatively low and we believe it can and should be much higher.
Still, this is a positive start to the New Year and we look forward to more records being broken in 2014!
The Back Britain’s Charities campaign is delighted to announce that anti-domestic violence charity Women’s Aid has signed up to add their support to the campaign.
Women’s Aid is a fantastic organisation that supports over 300 local domestic violence services across the country. Women’s Aid Annual Survey 2013 of around 200 domestic violence services in England found that in 2012/13 these organisations supported nearly 117,000 women and children through refuge accommodation and outreach support. This includes nearly 10,000 women and over 10,000 children in refuge, and nearly 83,000 women and 14,000 children in outreach services. The first Women’s Aid federation was established 40 years ago, and formed in the aftermath of issues such as violence in the home and other forms of sexual and interpersonal violence to women being highlighted.
The charity aims to empower women who have been affected by domestic violence, meet the needs of children who have suffered as a result of domestic violence, provide specialised services run by women based upon listening to survivors, and promote cohesive inter-agency responses to domestic violence.
As a testament to their excellent work, Women’s Aid has received the support of high-profile figures such as Patrons Julie Walters CBE, and Dame Jenni Murray, as well as Ambassador’s including Will Young, Charlie Webster and Jahmene Douglas.
Explaining their support for the Back Britain’s Charities campaign, Polly Neate, Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said:
“Women’s Aid Federation of England supports the Back Britain’s Charities campaign because it highlights many of the key issues charities are struggling with in some of the most difficult times the sector has ever faced. As a national membership organisation, the network of local specialist domestic violence organisations across England depends on Women’s Aid to talk to government, decision makers and the public about the serious financial issues and spiralling demand for services that are affecting our members, most of whom lack the capacity to engage in publicity, fundraising and tendering for public funds. We are therefore acutely aware of both the local and national challenges charities face, and the need to highlight to local agencies, Government, individuals and businesses the importance of supporting local domestic violence charities who in turn support many of the 1.2 million women and thousands of children who experience domestic violence every year.”
We’re delighted to receive the support of Women’s Aid. We know that many charities across Britain are struggling, with people finding it difficult to give during the tough economic climate, but it’s vital that people from all walks of life do what they can to support charities. Because, as the work of Women’s Aid demonstrates, it is vital that beneficiaries of charities across Britain have somewhere to turn for support. The most vulnerable people in society often rely on the support of charities, and unless we act now to support the sector, there is a real danger that they will have nowhere to go for help. That’s why we all need to pull together and Back Britain’s Charities!
An interesting article published in the Guardian this weekend has shone a spotlight on one of the areas in Britain that, it claims, suffers because it lacks a vibrant voluntary sector. The article looked at the reality of daily life in the Camborne area of Cornwall, and found that many residents dealing with a number of social and economic problems do not have access to charities or voluntary groups that could provide support to them.
Citing a recent report by the Centre for Social Justice, the Guardian article argues that charity is centralised in Britain, with the numbers showing that money is overwhelmingly given to the largest charities, despite the thousands of smaller localised charities operating across the country.
According to the report, the dominance of large charities is such that just 3% of all charities are responsible for three quarters of the sector’s total expenditure, leaving the remaining 97% of charities left to battle over the other quarter of income coming into the sector.
The report goes on to cite research carried out by the Charities Aid Foundation, which discovered that “Britons are three times more likely to give to medical research than to the homeless (and seven times more money)” and in addition that “twice as much is given every year to animals than the elderly.”
Whilst Britain does include a number of national, well-known charities, many smaller charities find success because they are able to help address a specific need in a local community, or because they are able to provide specialised help. However many people prefer to donate to a specific charity that they are comfortable with, which can mean smaller charities struggling to raise enough money to operate.
The Back Britain’s Charities campaign has warned of the dangers posed by falling charities incomes, and acknowledged that it is often small and medium sized charities that are struggling to make ends meet. That’s why it’s so important that people give as regularly as they can – so that smaller charities are able to plan their expenditure over the coming months, and make sure their income goes as far as possible.
We’ve also warned of the danger of cuts by government to charities, and how there is a real concern that some local authorities might disproportionately cut funding to charities, which means that the people who rely on charities and voluntary groups for support suffer. With spending restrictions set to continue for the foreseeable future we’ll be keeping an eye on councils as they set budgets for the next financial year, and check that they aren’t using cuts to charities as an easy way of balancing the books.
What lifted people’s spirits the most in 2013? You might think that it was the prolonged warm weather over the summer (hard to recall now, we know), the birth of the royal baby, or even Andy Murray winning Wimbledon.
Well, accordingly to a survey commissioned by Oxfam to start the New Year, you’d be wrong.
In fact, people said that supporting a charity was the thing that had lifted their spirits most last year, with 70% of respondents to the survey stating that helping a good cause had improved their outlook in 2013.
This compares to 62% citing the weather over the summer, 60% being cheered by Murray’s triumph at SW19 and 52% seeing their spirits lifted by Mo Farah winning double gold at the Athletics World Championships.
When asked about TV programmes that had the most uplifting effect charities once again figured prominently. Children in Need was chosen by 35% of respondents, slightly ahead of The Great British Bakeoff and Strictly Come Dancing.
Looking ahead to 2014, 25% of people are looking forward to a well-earned holiday, with the event that most people expect to be uplifting in the coming year being the football World Cup in Brazil. Whether this will be the case given that the recent draw placed England in the same group as Uruguay, Italy and Costa Rica remains to be seen!
It’s great to see that so many people find supporting a charity so rewarding, and the generosity of people across Britain is truly appreciated by the thousands of charities who rely on the goodwill of donors and volunteers to support them.
The Back Britain’s Charities campaign has been calling for people to give to charity regularly, regardless of the amount that they are able to give. Not only does this help charities better plan their expenditure and ensure that more money can be targeted towards helping beneficiaries, but is also makes donors feel good!
We hope that, following the results of this survey, people continue to generously support charities in 2014. Happy New Year to all of our supporters!
Earlier this week Civil Exchange published the Big Society Audit 2013, investigating how the Government’s flagship idea for civil society has operated in practice. Shortly before the 2010 General Election David Cameron, standing in the shadows of Battersea power station, launched his Big Society plan which, he argued, would give power to people across the nation.
Over the past three years attitudes towards the Big Society have remained mixed, with polling carried out for the Independent in 2011 finding that a quarter of people (27%) had never heard of the Big Society, 41% agreeing that it is merely a cover for spending cuts, and only 17% believing that it will succeed in fostering a culture of volunteering. Half of people asked said that they thought to Big Society to be largely a gimmick.
Civil Exchange’s new Audit splits the Big Society into three distinct parts, and examines the success that the Government has had in putting their rhetoric into practical action.
Looking at the area of community empowerment, the Audit found that there have been significant successes in increasing local control by encouraging communities to take over local assets and services; that there has been an improvement in transparency and an increase in the number of elected officials; and that strong communities remain a positive feature of British life, although one that varies between affluent and disadvantaged areas.
There is, however, no real change in individual influence over local decisions, with only a minority believing that they are actually in a position to shift opinions locally. In addition, recognising traits highlighted by the Back Britain’s Charities campaign, the Audit acknowledge that many voluntary sector organisations are experiencing financial difficulty due to rising demand and falling income.
Turning to social indications, the Audit found that there has been a dramatic fall in giving, echoing the findings of the UK Giving 2012 report, which found a 20% drop in donations to charities. More positively, levels of volunteering have risen, although only to the levels that existed before the financial crisis. There has been an increase in volunteering by young people, an area that the Parliamentary Inquiry on Growing Giving has been looking into in more detail.
Looking at the impact of the Big Society reforms on public services, the picture is bleaker. Cuts to voluntary sector funding have already taken place, with dramatic falls estimated over the next four years that will threaten organisations working to support vulnerable people. This reduction in spending is interesting, particularly in light of research carried out for the Back Britain’s Charities campaign which found that 69% of people believe that their community will suffer if charity funding is reduced.
The report also warned that despite attempts to open up public service contracts to a wider audience, contracts are still large inaccessible to the voluntary sector. There is instead a systematic bias towards the private sector existing in contracting. There are many underlying challenges for voluntary organisations to deal with when competing with large companies for contracts, and CAF’s “Funding Good Outcomes” paper has urged the Government to reflect on how bidding processes can be adapted to ensure that charities and voluntary organisations are able to compete on an equal footing.
The Audit is well worth reading in full, and is an incredibly useful exercise in helping to inform people about what the Big Society means in reality for charities. Whilst there are some positives, charities and voluntary sector organisations are yet to reap the rewards of the rhetoric, and, as the Back Britain’s Charities campaign makes clear, there is still much work that needs to be done to support the thousands of charities across Britain that are struggling. What do you think of the Big Society Audit 2013? Let us know @backingcharity and firstname.lastname@example.org
The release of the World Giving Index 2013 has shown the UK rising up the league table of generosity, now ranked as the sixth most charitable nation in the world - up from eighth last year.
CAF’s World Giving Index, based upon surveys in 135 countries carried out by Gallup ranks, the countries of the world based upon three giving measures: the percentage of people who give money to charity, volunteer their time or help a stranger in a typical month.
The report shows that people in the UK are the most generous in Europe when it comes to giving money, with 76% giving to good causes in a typical month. Volunteering levels in the UK have also risen by three percentage points compared to the previous year with 29% giving in a typical month, and there has been a significant rise in the number of people helping a stranger, increasing from 56% to 65%. Using the combination of all three measures, Ireland is ranked as the most charitable nation in Europe.
Elsewhere, the United States has regained top position as the most generous country on earth, with Canada, Burma and New Zealand tied for second place. Burma has the largest proportion donating money to a charity in a typical month, with Turkmenistan reporting the highest proportion of people giving time and Americans the most likely to help a stranger.
It’s always interesting to see how the UK compares to other countries across the world when it comes to giving, and we’re delighted that once again we retain our place inside the top ten. This is testimony to the generosity of people across the UK, and shows that even during tough economic times people are keen to take whatever action they can to help others.
That the UK has improved in all three measures of giving is an extremely positive development, but it’s crucial that people maintain their support if charities across the country are to be able to continue their work supporting those in need of help. The Back Britain’s Charities campaign has been warning of the threat posed if there is a reduction in the proportion of people participating in giving, and we’ll be continuing to urge people from all walks of life to do what they can to support the causes they care about. Let’s see if we can continue the UK’s upwards trend next year!
Following a recent meeting with representatives from the Back Britain’s Charities campaign, Opposition Chief Whip Rosie Winterton MP has spoken of her concern about the impact that the economic downturn is having on charities in her area, and urged people to do what they can to support charities that are struggling to keep pace with demand for their services.
Whilst the economy has now begun to grow again, many charities are yet to experience the effects of the recovery. Charities are still in need of funds, and the support of donors and volunteers is crucial if they are to continue to help the most vulnerable people in society.
Ms Winterton has been the Member of Parliament for Doncaster Central since 1997, and during Labour’s time in government served as Minister for Work of Pensions and Minister for Local Government, becoming Shadow Leader of the House of Commons following the 2010 election. In September that year she became the Chief Whip, and as a result is responsible for maintaining party discipline.
Speaking after the meeting Ms Winterton, who is the patron of five charities in Doncaster, said:
“It’s worrying that so many charities are struggling to make ends meet, and I’m concerned about the effect that charities being forced to close could have.
“I regularly see the work that they do to support people in Doncaster, often ensuring that people going through difficult times have somewhere to turn.
“Both the recent Children in Need appeal and the response to the Typhoon Haiyan tragedy in the Philippines have shown how generous British people are, and we should be incredibly proud of the strength and scope of our charitable sector, but we need to act now to protect it.
“That means people from all walks of life – businesses, politicians, and members of the public – doing our bit to back Britain’s charities.”
We’re delighted that Ms Winterton has spoken about the need for people to support charities so passionately, and fully endorse her remarks. We understand that people might not be able to give more to charity at the moment. That’s why we’re asking people to give regularly, so that charities are better able to plan their finances and ensure that they are able to carry out their charitable mission.
We’re also asking businesses to maintain their giving to charities, and calling on the Government and charities to look at how giving can be improved so that when people are able to donate their contribution goes further towards the cause of their choice. We are also aware of the impact that spending reductions are having on charities, and calling on all government bodies to ensure that they do not introduce spending cuts which disproportionately affect charities. What do you think could be done to make life that bit easier for charities? Get in touch with us at email@example.com