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.
Chris White MP writes for us…
Supporting Britain’s charities has never been more important. A survey by the Charities Aid Foundation last year found that one in six charities were concerned about closing over the next twelve months and a quarter said that they were having to cut front-line services. This is at a time when even greater demands are being placed on charities across the country.
Our charities play an important role in our communities, providing services and support to some of the most vulnerable people, often hidden from view. Most of our charities are small organisations which do not have the chance to run big advertising campaigns or lobby for more funding – but this doesn’t make their work any less important.
However if we want to keep our charities going, then all of us need to do our bit to help.
As individuals we need to continue to support charities as much as we can. Although these are difficult times, small changes like providing regular donations, rather than irregular lump sums, can make the finances of charities far healthier and help to plan for the future.
Local authorities need to ensure that they are proportionate in the way that they treat charities. Councils have to make difficult choices, but charities should not suffer the brunt of reductions because they are voices that can be easily ignored. In the long term, the loss of charities will damage our communities and opening up service contracts and protecting grants in the short term, will have a positive benefit in the long term – improving outcomes and saving public money.
The Government also needs to make changes to help charities and encourage donations. Payroll Giving, which aims to make giving money to charity easier for people, is used by just 3% of the public. We need to ensure that people are aware of Payroll Giving and we need to encourage employers to promote this form of giving to their employees and make taking up this scheme as easy as possible.
The Government should also consider further changes to Gift Aid to ensure that charities get maximum benefit from this scheme. The Small Charities Donations Scheme is a good start and should unlock millions of pounds for local charities, but increasing public awareness of Gift Aid and boosting giving through Direct Debit and social media could unlock another £735 million for charities.
A Gift Aid system which is fit for the 21st Century and based online could revolutionise giving and provide extra funding at a time when charities need it most and needs to be a higher priority.
The Back Britain’s Charities campaign is doing vital work in raising the profile of charities in Parliament and in Government and the more support the campaign can generate, the more impact it will have. Over the year ahead I hope that we can, through Back Britain’s Charities, continue to raise the profile of our charities, and ensure that these important local organisations are able to survive and thrive.
This Saturday saw the grand finale of a very successful Small Charity Week, with charities from near and far gathering in Russell Square, Central London for “Celebration Day”.
A field of “impact statements” from hundreds of small charities were the focus of a day of live entertainment, fairground games and charity stalls. These statements served to underline the real value these organisations bring to their beneficiaries in a multitude of different ways.
We wanted to take the Back Britain’s Charities campaign along to help celebrate the work of small charities and to talk to more people about the campaign. And we’re delighted to say that a great number of the people we spoke to were happy to sign-up to support!
We wrote the name of each person to sign-up on our chain of paper ‘charity people’ – a little metaphor for people standing side-by-side with charities during these tough times (see pic above!).
As part of the activity for Celebration Day events were also taking place all around the country, and in addition, the charity impact statements (including the Back Britain’s Charities logo!) were being displayed on BBC Big Screens across the UK.
Though the weather wavered between sunny and stormy, the atmosphere and attitude of positivity rounded off this excellent week perfectly. Our hearty congratulations to the FSI who made such an event possible!
Let’s hope the charities and individuals we met on Saturday are willing to throw their support behind Back Britain’s Charities to maintain the momentum behind the important message that small charities can do big things in our society!
CAF Campaigns Manager, Fiona McEvoy, gives her perceptions of the week so far…
Well, Small Charity Week has been in full-swing since Monday, and on Tuesday 18th June – the Big Advice Day – my fellow Campaigns Manager, Steve Clapperton, and I had the fantastic opportunity to speak with a number of different charities about their communications plans and aspirations.
The FSI-organised event took place at the Royal Horticultural Halls in Westminster, and we were there to advise scores of small charity representatives from across the country on campaigns, PR and politics.
And it was nothing short of a privilege to learn a little more about the fantastic – and incredibly valuable – work small charities are undertaking in every part of the UK and beyond.
For obvious reasons I can’t go into details about the specific charities we advised, but it is fair to say they were incredibly diverse in their objectives and structures, and really showed the impressive reach of small charities, not only within our communities but nationally and internationally. It was somewhat inspiring to engage with individuals truly motivated by need and mission, many of whom played a multitude of roles within their organisations in a “head-chef and post-washer” type set-up.
When we left the event after a full and intense day of talking and advice, not only did we feel a sense of satisfaction from being able to help a number of charities in some small way, but we also felt more assured of the validity and importance of the Back Britain’s Charities campaign. The campaign aims to throw a spotlight onto the vital work the voluntary sector, particularly those who are suffering due to the financial impact caused by a drop in donations and cuts to funding – i.e. smaller charities with less robust finances. This is clearly something that is worthwhile, given the causes being championed by the organisations we met with.
On Saturday 22nd June this Small Charity Week culminates in “Celebration Day” in Russell Square in Central London, and the public will gather with charities to celebrate the work and value of small charities. Though CAF is hardly a small charity, we’ll be there with the Back Britain’s Charities campaign to openly applaud the work of some of the countries most interesting and dynamic organisations, and also to acknowledge the hard work of the FSI who conceived and organised this brilliant week of events.
The Secretary of State responsible for the Department for Communities & Local Government, The Rt Hon Eric Pickles MP, issued the following statement today ahead of our Back Britain’s Charities event in Parliament which took part this afternoon.
“Councils have to prioritise how they spend taxpayers money, but they must resist any temptation to pull up the drawbridge on the voluntary sector by passing on disproportionate savings. We have set out clear expectations for councils. The best councils are those that work with their local voluntary and community partners in the interests of local people whilst managing to balance the books.
New Community Rights gives civic and voluntary groups the power to take over and protect community resources like leisure centres, village halls and libraries. This is all about moving from a situation from one of survival to one where charities can thrive”.
A full report on the successful event – “Cuts in the Community: Can councils justify disproportionate reductions in charity funding?” – will be going up shortly on the Back Britain’s Charities blog!
Yesterday, NCVO released their updated ‘Counting the Cuts’ report, which examines government funding cuts to the voluntary sector, and predicts a potential drop in funding of 15% by 2017/8, which translates to £1.7bn.
This steep decline however, is one of the ‘best case scenarios’ – i.e. if cuts are proportionate to over all budgetary cuts at local authorities. Should cuts be disproportionate – as they already are at 50% of councils responding to a Freedom of Information (FoI) request – the sector could lose as much as £2.1bn from government.
NCVO’s study uses OBR economic forecasts, charity accounts data and data obtained directly from local authorities as part of a Freedom of Information (FoI) campaign. The analysis and estimates focus on three possible scenarios – proportionate cuts to charity funding, disproportionate cuts, and a ‘contract winning scenario’.
The following diagram may make grim reading for many of our Back Britain’s Charities supporters:
The NCVO say that they compile this data because government fails to provide reliable figures on charity/voluntary sector expenditure…
In order to debate this very issue, the Back Britain’s Charities campaign are holding an event in Parliament on the 10th June.
The event, entitled “Cuts in the Community: Can councils justify disproportionate reductions in charity funding?”, will be asking the following questions amongst many others:
- Are the councils that are cutting charity funding merely playing politics or have austerity measures left them with little choice?
- Do charities need to innovate in order to truly earn the funding they get?
- Is Government doing enough to ensure small and medium-sized charities aren’t muscled out?
- Are charities always in a better position to meet the needs of their local communities?
The format will be of a panel event with representatives from local government, central government and charity, followed by a lively 45minute Q&A session.
Places are now extremely limited due to the overwhelming popularity of the topic, but if you would like to enquire regarding the last few places or be added to the cancellations list, please just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is destined to be a great event and we’ll be sure to document it in full on the blog next month!
Recently we’ve been keeping you up-to-date with the progress of the campaign and particularly when Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum have signed up to Back Britain’s Charities in order to demonstrate their support for the sector.
The eagle-eyed twitterers amongst you may have noticed that on Wednesday afternoon Twitter afficionado and renowned actor-presenter, Stephen Fry, gave a very welcome endorsement of the Back Britain’s Charities on his extremely popular Twitter feed. The tweet, which was broadcast to his 5.6 million followers read as follows -
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) April 3, 2013
As you might expect, Stephen’s tweet successfully piqued the interest of the Twittering public and consequently we had lots of extra visitors to the site and lots of additional sign-ups! If you happen to be on Twitter, you can still retweet Stephen’s message and help spread the word about Back Britain’s Charities!
On top of this support, we’re also thrilled to report that breakfast television presenter and TV personality Lorraine Kelly has also championed the campaign. Lorraine said -
“Back Britain’s Charities is a great campaign promoting the fantastic work charities do in our communities.
“It’s so important that we don’t forget these organisations, especially in tough times. Though many people won’t have the means to give more money to charity, by giving regularly we can at least help charities to budget and plan for the future.
“Charities touch our lives in so many ways, and often we don’t even realise it. It’s really important that we all stand together to Back Britain’s Charities, and protect this incredibly valuable part of our society”
It goes without saying that we pleased and proud that these public figures are prepared to speak out about the Back Britain’s Charities campaign and promote it to the public. We are equally delighted that scores of charities, businesses and ordinary individuals have also made concerted efforts to push out the message that we need to ‘Back Britain’s Charities’ in these difficult times. A great number of you have tweeted, written to your local MP, given us some publicity in your charity newsletters & community magazines, and even blogged on the website to share your story.
To you we also want to say a huge THANK YOU and urge you to continue your fantastic work!
If you have any thoughts, comments or ideas about the campaign then do feel free to get in touch at email@example.com. Similarly, if you are in a position to distribute any Back Britain’s Charities campaign literature we would love to hear from you!
Charities are doing fantastic work across the country that touches the lives of ordinary people and provides vital lifelines to many of society’s most vulnerable. Due to the economic climate, however, many of these charities are struggling financially…
We need YOU to give your support in order to highlight the plight of charities and make sure that they can continue their vital work of helping others. It’s really worrying that:
- Between 2010/11 and 2012/13 the total amount donated by people to charity fell by 20%
- Last year the number of people using Gift Aid declined for the first time since it was introduced
- A survey showed that 40% of charity sector workers are worried that their charity may have to close
- More than a quarter of charities have already cut frontline services
- This year Britain dropped three places (down to 8th) in the annual World Giving Index
Mentions across the national media…
Over 700 charities and organisations signed up to support…
With over 20 Parliamentary supporters from all parties, Back Britain’s Charities is a campaign that even our politicians can agree on!
“The Back Britain’s Charities campaign has been set up to ensure that charities can continue to survive in these difficult times, a goal that I think we can all support” – Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society
“It is getting harder and harder to support my local charity, Carers Lewisham. I am a carer with a disabled son and now I’m a trustee of Carers Lewisham. They saved my life with their support and backing and I now want to give something back. Lets hope this campaign can grow and grow. We need charities, they do so much and support so many people in so many different ways. Good luck”– Jacqui Cook (Mum of disabled son, Joe), Carers Lewisham
“Carphone Warehouse backs Britain’s Charities and urges the business community and general public to do the same. It’s so important charities aren’t forgotten in these tough economic times. Many vital services are suffering from a reduction in government funding and fall in donations, at the same time as facing an increasing demand for their services. We have to stand together to protect these cornerstones of our communities. Through our corporate responsibility programme we donate, and our people raise, hundreds of thousands of pounds a year for charity and we are fully committed to supporting a vibrant and varied civil society” – Carphone Warehouse
Last week New Philanthropy Capital released their report Money for Good UK, which looks at philanthropic behaviours in the UK. The study revealed some interesting patterns from across the country – and the results might not be quite what you expected.
Those in more affluent areas giving proportionately less than those in deprived regions of the country? Generous Scots and stingy Southerners? This polling suggests that some Brits have developed something of a cavalier attitude towards charitable giving in general, with most failing to see giving as a ‘duty’.
According to an article in the Guardian, concerns are now becoming focused on the behaviour of the charity sector as the general public say they’re unconvinced that their donations are making a real difference at the service delivery end. The NPC report suggests that this could be discouraging them giving anything up to an additional £700m each year.
Obviously this is bad news for a sector that is suffering financially. We all know the circumstances – cuts to government funding, drops in individual giving and increased pressure on services. These are not great times for charities.
Though Friday’s record breaking Comic Relief served as a reminder of just how generous we can be as a nation, it is also important that charities are reflective and consider ways in which they can get the maximum impact from the funding and donations they receive, whilst maintaining the quality of the work that they do. This is the essence of the fifth ‘ask’ of the Back Britain’s Charities campaign.
According to the Guardian article, “the [NPC] report calls on charities to tackle two main areas of underperformance identified by donors: the charities’ evidence of impact and explanation about how donations are used”.
To this end, Back Britain’s Charities urges organisations to sign-up to the Inspiring Impact coalition – a movement to standardise the ways in which charities and voluntary sector organisations collect and use data in order to increase efficiency and maximise fundraising opportunities.
If charities want to grow donations, it is clear that they will need to grow trust, and that may well have to come with a step change in the way that the sector measures its value and expresses its financial accountability. Indeed, as the sector is forced to evolve, it seems they will also have to face the conundrum of both delivering, and proactively demonstrating, value if they wish to attract and sustain reliable funding.