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.
Sometimes in life we have the motivation, but not the means – that’s why the excellent Give More have created the Give Guide, a varied and innovative directory of the ways that people can help good causes. Many of which are somewhat unorthodox…
For example, have you ever considered micro-volunteering from your desk during lunchtime? Been sponsored to work out? Dined at a social enterprise restaurant? Would you give while you shop or consider a charitable wedding list? There is certainly plenty here to inspire the charitable-at-heart.
Aside from the creativity of these ideas though (which sit alongside tried and tested ways of making a difference, like giving to charity shops and regular volunteering), there is a real and practical role for such ingenuity in keeping the sector afloat and effective.
Mobilising resources, tapping into untapped sources of income and leveraging the free time of the general public – this is what the Give Guide aims to do, and it really is more important than ever in light of discouraging statistics emerging from the UK Giving report that launched the Back Britain’s Charities campaign. Of course, we need to see an pick-up in charitable donations after the recent 20% slump uncovered by the report, but we also need to realise that without promoting and valuing the work that charities do this just won’t happen.
The Give Guide suggests positive, direct and often pretty hands-on actions that appeal to those who appreciate the importance of community, charity and lending-a-hand. By doing this, they are going someway toward re-introducing charity into everyday life, and this reconnect could re-enthuse the general public – and particularly young people – about charity and the value it brings to all of our lives.
Why does it appeal? Partly because it’s modern. It’s about charities and the mechanics of donations adapting to the increasingly busy lives of individuals. The breadth of choice is impressive too, and would allow any individual to put together a bespoke giving ‘package’ that appeals and works for them in terms of the practicalities of their life and work.
It is also inspiring, in that it is proof that other motivated and switched-on people are already out there trying to give support to the voluntary sector in a plethora of new and exciting ways. And ‘new’ and ‘exciting’, it could be argued, are two words many charities should be working hard to affiliate themselves with…
In the age of the technological novel, the virtual society and under the influence of a new make-do-and-mend mentality, the Give Guide could well be the ‘first folio’ when history books are written about the evolution of charitable engagement in the new century. At the moment it serves as a fantastic reference for those who’d like to do more.
Enterprise Manager Charles Rapson from Colebridge Enterprises – supporters of Back Britain’s Charities – writes about how his organisation has learnt to adapt and identify need in the West Midlands.
Colebridge Enterprises is a social enterprise which has provided work experience and training to adults with learning disabilities at our industrial unit in Chelmsley Wood for the past 25 years. Recently we’ve had two significant challenges to face. Firstly, funding for adult social care is changing and being reduced and means that our longer term sustainability is under threat. Secondly, we had a growing dissatisfaction that, whilst we were doing a good job preparing learning disabled clients for employment, we were in danger of preparing them for disappointment. There were not enough suitable jobs in the area to satisfy the need. What we needed was a different business model.
The opportunity to create a new model came about as a direct result of participating in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Growth Programme at Aston Business School. There I met another participant (a private sector business) who was dealing with capacity problems due to rapid growth in his company, Automotive Insulations, based in Rugby. We got talking during one of the modules about our respective organisations and challenges and quickly realised that one persons problem could be another’s solution.
On 1st October last year, Colebridge Enterprises started sub contract outsource assembly work for Automotive Insulations. Just a few months down the line and these arrangements are working extremely well, 9 jobs have been created at Colebridge; most of these going to adults with a learning disability and others going to people who have been unemployed for a long period. These were referred to us from another of our projects, Skills For Jobs, which supports people get back into work.
We now have a very different and more sustainable operation that has the potential for significant growth over the next year or so and, therefore, a reason to be optimistic in spite of the difficult financial climate facing the voluntary sector.
Do you have a story for Back Britain’s Charities? Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
So far Back Britain’s Charities has been lucky enough to attract supporters from far and wide. Charities and businesses, both large and small, have fallen in behind the campaign alongside politicians from all parties and none.
We’re now pleased to announce that telecommunications retailer Carphone Warehouse have spoken about their support for Back Britain’s Charities and it’s objectives.
“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.”
Kesah Trowell, Carphone Warehouse
It’s great to have household-name, high street retailers coming on board and really vocally getting behind the voluntary sector. We want to thank Carphone Warehouse and urge others to follow suit!
Back Britain’s Charities is delighted to welcome two fantastic organisations – Localgiving.com and the theBigGive.org.uk – who have chosen to back the campaign and highlight the importance and value of civil society.
It’s a great boost to the work that we’ve been doing to receive the backing of these fantastic organisations who push to make online fundraising easy and accessible for charities and their supporters. We look forward to working closely with both organisations as we seek to highlight the positive impact that the voluntary sector makes.
Founder of Localgiving.com and former star of television’s ‘The Secret Millionaire’ (Channel 4) Marcelle Speller OBE spoke for the organisation and told us that:
“When charitable giving declines, it is often the small, local charities and community groups that suffer the most. Many of these vital organisations already operate on a knife edge, so even a small donation can mean the difference between surviving and going under. As a society, we can’t afford to lose them! That’s why Localgiving.com supports the Back Britain’s Charities campaign.”
“The Big Give is delighted to support Back Britain’s Charities. It is essential that supporters, trustees, foundations, corporations and government pull together and continue to find ways to ensure that charities receive the help and funds they need to continue their vital work”.
We hope that both of these groups – and their vast networks of charities & voluntary sector organisations – will play a key role in the progress of the Back Britain’s Charities campaign.
Have YOU signed up yet? If not, click here!
It is interesting to step back and reflect on the current state of the charitable sector in the UK. After recent attempts by successive governments to mould the sector into a more cost-effective provider of public services, it is important that charities of all sizes come together to protect the services that they provide and, most importantly, the vulnerable people who rely on them.
From the outside, some larger charities seem to have become hybrids that enjoy the benefits of charitable status whilst surviving predominantly on public sector contacts. Many of these contracts are becoming more and more prescriptive, which is forcing the sector to abandon the focus on innovative ways to provide services. Simultaneously, cash-strapped councils are using charities as a way of offloading responsibility for delivery and the liabilities for staff, pensions and associated costs.
The golden era of plentiful local government contracts for charities appears to be over, particularly for small and micro charities. At the Cedarwood Trust we’ve had to go back to basics and look to our founding principles and mission statements, ensuring that we are on mission and not just cheaper versions of the public sector casualties of austerity. We are, like many other small charities, forced into a position where demand for our services has increased whilst resources have significantly decreased.
We’ve had to focus our efforts to meet the specific needs of our service users. We’ve been left to provide services for the most vulnerable – often those who have been sidelined because their needs are not seen as mainstream – and therefore there is less of a desire to spend resources on their needs. Our developing work has seen us focus on providing practical solutions for those from the Meadow Well Estate of North Shields who come to us in crisis, offering food hampers to those in critical need, including support for those in financial crisis and increased support for the elderly and disadvantaged, and backing this up with information, advice and guidance, a pastoral care emphasis and a range of opportunities for personal and community development which have been developed over the past 30 years.
The sector is in the midst of a difficult time, and needs to use this opportunity to celebrate the uniqueness of charities across the country, and protect the services that are provided to different communities.
The charitable sector operates within a unique market. Funders and service users are rarely the same people. Most voluntary organisations came into existence because of the passion and commitment of individuals wanting to make a difference to their communities, often motivated by social injustice. Charities have expertise in managing, channelling and directing this passion and commitment, and these expertise will be in great demand once the full impact of austerity measures kick in.
A healthy charitable sector is vital if we are to ensure that every individual is supported, and their specific needs catered for. That’s why the Back Britain’s Charities campaign is so important – it recognises that the pressures on the services that charities to provide are greater than ever, and urges the charitable sector to unite to ensure that smaller charities are able to exist going forward. Now is the time to Back Britain’s Charities and protect the services that charities provide across the nation.