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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlier in the year, we reflected upon research that showed two-thirds of charities have seen an increase in demand for their services, a demand that charities are struggling to meet as they deal with a fall in income.
Now research carried out by the London Voluntary Service Council has highlighted that over 80 per cent of charities in the capital have seen demand for their services increase as a result of the economic or policy climate.
This increase in demand is the highest since the survey of London’s charities began in 2009, and marks a significant rise from the figure of 66 per cent last year. The report summarising the research, ‘The Big Squeeze 2013: a fragile state,’ argues that there has been a particular increase in demand for advice and support as a result of the Government’s welfare reforms.
As a result, 93 per cent of charities responding to the survey revealed that they have had to change the way that they operate, with 51 per cent reporting a reduction in their overall funding, down from 60 per cent in the previous report.
In more positive news, the survey did show that there has been a reduction in the number of charities being forced to close a service in the past year, falling from 41 per cent in the previous report to 27 per cent. However that means that over a quarter of charities are being forced to reduce the services that they provide, which will have a real impact on the vulnerable people who turn to charities for support.
Challenges for charities aren’t limited to London, of course, and last week CAF’s Campaigns Manager Steve Clapperton was on BBC Radio Oxford, talking about the economic climate facing charities, and how this is impacting upon their ability to keep pace with rising demand.
We’re particularly keen to hear about the experiences of charities across the country. We’ve already heard some heart-breaking stories of how some charities are struggling, and the impact that this is having, and that’s why we’re so keen that people from all walks of life do what they can to Back Britain’s Charities. If you’d like to share your story please get in touch with us, at email@example.com
A survey carried out in Ireland has shone a light on the difficulties that charities are having as a result of falling donations from the public and reductions in government spending, mirroring the challenges that many British charities are also struggling with.
The survey, carried out by the Irish Independent, found that some staff are taking unpaid leave to keep costs down, and the report in the same newspaper highlights than one charity, Inclusion Ireland, has been forced to make interest only payments on their mortgage.
Further research carried out by charity umbrella group The Wheel discovered that of 230 charities stating they had received a sharp rise in demand for the services that they provide, two-thirds were trying to keep up with this surge in demand whilst coping will falling revenues. Since the beginning of the year, one in three has been forced to cut back or suspend services.
These statistics aren’t that surprising, and indeed reflect some of the findings of CAF’s research last year which discovered how charities in Britain are having to adapt in order to deal with the challenge of doing more with less.
As the British economy returns to growth, we will be watching with interest to see whether there will be a similar improvement in people’s disposal income, and if that will have any impact on charitable giving.
We know from CAF’s report on Britain’s ‘Civic Core’ that a number of people would consider giving more to charity if their personal economic situation improves, and the Back Britain’s Charities campaign will continue working to encourage people from all walks of life to do what they can to support good causes.
We’d be interested to hear how the economic climate has affected you. Has your charity suffered as a result? Are you suffering from falling incomes? Get in touch with us a firstname.lastname@example.org and share your story!
We’ve now returned from conference season and, after spending a weekend resting our feet, are able to reflect on an extremely successful few weeks for the Back Britain’s Charities campaign. Last week we were of course in Manchester, enjoying the surprisingly sunny, dry weather and mingling with politicians and activists from the Conservative Party.
We had numerous visitors to our stand with people keen to find out about our “people power” report, as well as play our interactive game! So popular was our stand that by the end of conference we’d run out of bears to give to our guests!
We received a number of high-profile visitors to our stand, including the likes of Conservative Party Chairman Grant Shapps MP, Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health, and Sir George Young MP, Chief Whip. Whilst none of the MPs who played our game were able to topple Ed Balls, we can confirm that Europe Minister David Lidington set a fast time and took top honours for the blues!
We also held another great fringe in Manchester, where the Minister for Civil Society Nick Hurd MP kindly joined us to offer his thoughts on our conference research, as well as giving the audience his ideas on how to get more people engaged with charities. In addition to CAF’s John Low, Penny Mordaunt MP and Pete Moorey from campaigning group Which? came to share their experiences of both charitable activity and ways that people can be mobilised to get involved with causes.
It’s great that we’ve received such a positive response throughout conference, and we’re delighted we’ve been able to explain to conference goers the challenges that charities are faced with, and what can be done to support charities during difficult times. Now we’re back in London, we’ll continue to make the case for the importance of charities and see how we can learn the lessons from conference season to get more people backing Britain’s charities!
We’ve now returned home from Liberal Democrat party conference 2013 after spending a few days in Glasgow with one half of the Coalition partners. Whilst there we managed to speak with a number of senior Lib Dem politicians about our people power report, and explain to them why it is so important that we get more people involved with charitable giving.
Our stand game went down a storm with both MPs and activists, with many chancing their arm more than once to see if they could set the top time on our people power game. After the closing of conference, the winner of our game was Michael Wallace, who was presented with a CAF charity cheque worth £50 to give to a charity of his choice.
Our leaderboard was a constant source of interest, and the competition between Lib Dem MPs was extremely fierce! The quick MP was Paul Burstow, who set a very respectable time of 8.68 seconds – let’s see how that compares to the quickest that the Labour and Conservative parties have to offer.
We were also joined on our stand by the likes of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander MP, who were both interested in the findings of our report, recognising the value that charities bring to society and their important role in helping people who need help the most.
Our political visitors weren’t limited to those representing the House of Commons either, with politicians from the Welsh Assembly, European Parliament and House of Lords also coming along to find our more about our report, as well as councillors from across the country.
Our fringe event was also the source of much interest, with the likes of Esther Rantzen dropping in to hear what our panel had to say about getting more people involved with charitable giving. You can read more about it here.
It’s great that our report was able to spark so much debate, and our interactive conference game certainly got people to think about the power they’re able to generate. We’re looking forward to moving the show onto Brighton and challenging the best that Labour politicians and activists to prove their people power!
Saturday marked the start of the political party conference season, and this year the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) is taking the Back Britain’s Charities message on tour to Glasgow, Brighton and Manchester, in order to raise awareness of the importance of supporting charities during these tough times.
Our first stop is Glasgow, where we arrived on Friday in all our sporting glory to speak to Liberal Democrat delegates and politicians about the importance of ‘people power’ in driving the charity and voluntary sector.
To represent the hard work volunteers and donors to put in to power charities throughout the country, we’re asking willing competitors to pedal their heart out to light up our Union Jack. Whoever lights the flag in the quickest time over our five days here in Glasgow will win a charity cheque to donate to the good cause of their choice.
Already our stand is attracting attention, but beyond the eye catching stand and jovial costumes, we also will be engaging with political players about the importance of broadening out the ‘Civic Core’ – the small pool of people who are responsible for the large majority of charitable work and donations as identified in our new report. We’ll hopefully be able to delve even deeper into this issue at our political fringe events where we’ll be gathering charity representatives and politicians to discuss how this can be done. Here’s all the info on the one in Glasgow tomorrow:
Building people power for good causes: how do we get millions backing Britain’s charities?
When: Tuesday 17th September, 1815-1930
Where: Barra Room, Crowne Plaza, Glasgow (inside secure zone)
Speakers: Stephen Gilbert, MP for St Austell & Newquay, Mike Thornton, MP for Eastleigh, Baroness Jolly, Dr John Low, CEO, Charities Aid Foundation, Toby Helm, Political Editor of The Observer (Chair)
If you’re at the conferences this year, do come along and say hello. If not, you can help us in our work by signing up to our Thunderclap here and asking the PM to do what he can to encourage a charitable society for the good of us all! Please do encourage anyone else you know who cares about charity to do the same.
In the run-up, however, there is a way that YOU can get involved if you or your organisation have a Twitter account. We’ve started a Thunderclap to call on David Cameron to help charities during tough times, just ahead of his big keynote speech on the last day of Conservative Party Conference.
Our Thunderclap message, entitled – “SOS!: Charities call on PM” reads as follows -
If you sign-up to our Thunderclap, you will automatically tweet or post out our message simultaneously with all other sign-ups and this will hopefully resonate further on Twitter and Facebook, attracting others to our campaign and our cause.
If you would like to sign-up, you can do so here, and we’d love it if you’d encourage others to do the same.
This morning an article in Third Sector has chosen to examine the extent to which charities should aim to improve their transparency. The majority of those consulted suggested that most charities need to get better at communicating both their costs and achievements to donors and potential donors in order to improve their lot in the long run.
Both ‘impact’ and ‘transparency’ are words you hear a lot in the sector, generally woven into an intense dialogue about things that need to be demonstrated, or indeed purposely not demonstrated, in order to prove credibility and/or attract donations.
The Back Britain’s Charities campaign has similarly spoken about the need for value and impact to be evident and tangible, and the importance of charities really ‘banging a drum’ about what they do. Nevertheless, for some charities – and particularly smaller ones that we hear from on a regular basis - most resources acquired must necessarily be diverted straight to the frontline and directly to beneficiaries.
So are debates around transparency a luxury of larger, more well known charities? Well this is complicated by the ambiguity around what we are even talking about when we consider transparency. Within the Third Sector article, Joe Saxton of npfSynergy suggests there could be some dispute:
”When people are talking about transparency they are talking about different things. Some people are talking about impact. Other people are talking about finance and figures. It can be in the way you present a set of figures. We probably do need some agreement about what it means to be transparent.” (Third Sector)
When we launched Back Britain’s Charities we felt that it was important to include an ‘ask’ to charities, to sit alongside our asks to the public, government and business. We wanted our stakeholders in business, government and the public to be clear that charities were also taking on responsibility for their own future, and that the campaign wasn’t under the illusion that all voluntary sector organisations work in a super efficient way, or that all fundraising was carried out flawlessly. Equally, it was important the campaign wasn’t solely about other stakeholders from other sectors being called upon to wade in and bail charities out.
A key part of that ‘ask’ reads as follows:
“It’s clearly the responsibility of all charities to ensure that the donations people give are used to achieve the greatest impact possible. Charities should always use resources as effectively and efficiently as possible”.
In real testimony sent to us through the sign-up section of this website we have, since our launch, received an avalanche of anecdotal tales, each telling what good has been done with what little money. Stories of how shoestring economics have been deployed and still achieved results for beneficiaries, making an important difference. What is evident is that some small local charities have few avenues through which they can showcase their ‘value’ or ‘impact’, nor do the they have the manpower or flexibility to do it – or indeed the financial means to justify diverting money away from their beneficiaries to demonstrate their impact. Increased transparency of expenditure would, and does in many cases, reveal organisations on the brink – or at the very least holding it together with limited resources.
We’ve now come to see talking about value and impact as one of the key functions of the Back Britain’s Charities campaign, stepping in where many charities are unable to voice their successes or concerns.
If you have a story that is worth telling to a wider audience (like the one below!), we invite you to send it to us at email@example.com so that we can talk about charities like yours, their impact and the consequences of the current financial climate.
I was 10 when I had my first session at Edwards Trust. My father had just passed away after being in critical care for 5 weeks. Being so young I was so confused about how I felt. I was upset. Heartbroken. Angry. Confused. Lonely. The only thought that ran through my head was, why me? Why my father? But I never talked about it and my family were worried about me so they referred me to Edwards Trust.
I spent my first session talking to my counsellor, Sue Dale. She made me feel so safe and comfortable; it was nice to be able to talk about my father without it ending in tears. During our sessions we made a memory jar, a jar filled with different colour salts to represent different memories I had of my father. We spent the rest of our sessions creating a painting of one of the best memories I share with my father, visiting the golden temple together. Sue helped me express my feelings in ways I didn’t think were possible and helped me open up and talk about what was on my mind.
After my experience at Edwards Trust, I find it so much easier to tell people close to me when I’m down or just the need to talk. I also understand my feelings and why I’m feeling them and that it’s ok to feel them. Sue helped me realise that.
I recently took part in the Young Philanthropy Initiative with my school which engages young people in creating social change. I presented the valuable work of Edwards Trust because I wanted to try and help raise funds and say thank you. My team got through to the finals where a YPI judging panel picked my presentation as the best from many other organisations and awarded Edwards Trust £3,000. I never felt so good and I was so pleased to be able to say thank you in the form of a cheque. As a finale to YPI experience we were all invited to London for a YPI party to celebrate our achievements.
Right now I am doing my GCSE’s in English, maths, science, French, religious education and child development and hoping to get good enough grades to go to sixth form. I want to go to university as I am an aspiring journalist and hope to be writing for a fashion magazine in the future.
I want to thank Edwards Trust for everything they have done for me and to thank Sue because without her I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
Has your charity made a real difference? To find out how to submit a blog for the Charity Impact Watch section of the website just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This morning, many of you will have spotted CAF Research Director, Richard Harrison, appearing on BBC Breakfast. He was interviewed as a charity sector representative in response to this story which reveals financial woes at Oxfam, whose income has fallen by £17.6m to £367.9m over the past year to 31st March.
Both fundraising income and income from charity shops are down, with the organisation blaming the tough economic climate for dealing them these financial challenges, as well as the additional demands on Oxfam’s resources due to troubles in Syria, Yemen and West Africa.
The article quotes Bob Humphrey’s, Oxfam’s finance director:
“We are fortunate that regular donations held up well. However, the lack of a single, high-profile emergency appeal alongside an unexpected shortfall in legacy income led to a drop in the overall contribution from UK public fundraising”.
Richard was able to broaden out the picture, citing figures from the UK Giving 2012 report which revealed a 20% drop in individual donations and polling undertaken for the Back Britain’s Charities campaign which said that 1 in 6 charity chief executives feared closure within 12 months (December 2012).
Earlier in the month the British Red Cross, another household name charity, reported a £14m drop in income to £200m, though representatives speculated that this was due to having to deal with fewer emergencies, and hence running fewer appeals.
As part of this campaign we’ve very much focused on small charities, many of whom have really felt the combined impact of a drop in income and an increase in demand for their services. These sorts of reports, however, show that even the charities we know the best – big, international charities – are not completely insulated from this phenomenon.
Financial troubles are, indeed, sector wide – worrying charity workers up and down the country, regardless of their area of work, regardless of their size.
If we’re to make this a high profile issue, then we need to work together. That involves two important measures –
One is making sure that we catalogue and build case studies of the valuable work we do as charities, and the other is making sure that it is broadcast, made known and firmly set in the context of these worrying financial times.
If you do brilliant work and want more people to know how valuable you are, please do send us a case study of how you work and the sorts of people you help and we’ll happily publish it on this website.
The best email address to send them to is: email@example.com.
We’ll look forward to receiving them!