Small and local charities offer a range of economic and social benefits and play a vital role in their communities, a new study has found.
Independent research report The Value of Small reveals that when tackling social issues like homelessness, domestic abuse or mental ill health, smaller charities have a distinctive impact. They also generate benefits through spending and investing more in local areas; with one charity generating £3.25 in value through volunteers per £1 of funding, and others generating as much as three times more in additional funding than their public funding.
The research highlights the significant challenges facing smaller charities despite their clear benefits for people and communities. There is a critical mismatch between what smaller charities do and the people they help – which public bodies should find attractive - and how public bodies actually fund, commission and contract services and measure value, which instead favours larger providers. As a result 84% of local government funding is actually going to larger charities.
The Value of Small was commissioned by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales and conducted by an independent research team comprising the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research (CRESR) at Sheffield Hallam University; the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) and the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership at the Open University. The researchers immersed themselves in four local areas - Ealing, Bassetlaw, Salford and Wrexham – to carry-out in-depth studies of small and medium-sized charities (those with an income of £10k to £1m) tackling issues such as homelessness, unemployment and helping refugees to integrate.
The report notes that: "Stakeholders and smaller charities spoke of the crucial role of an effective local infrastructure organisation". It goes on to explore examples of formal collaboration and partnership working, acknowledging the role that infrastructure organisations have played in facilitating successful collaborations between SMC’s, larger charities and the public sector.