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Research finds 'size does matter' – proving how vital small charities are to their local communities

Written by Samantha Lade, Donr

Published on Monday, 18th June 2018

Research finds 'size does matter' – proving just how vital small charities are to their local communities

Small and local charities across England and Wales offer a real range of economic and social benefits and play a vital role in their communities, new research shows.

The independent study shows 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.

However, the research also highlights how there is a critical mismatch between what smaller charities do and the people they help, and how public bodies actually fund and commission services – which instead favours larger providers.

As a result, 84% of local government funding is actually going to larger charities.

'The Value of Small' research, commissioned by Lloyds Bank Foundation and conducted by an independent team, is now urging for specific action at national and local levels to support smaller charities.

Over 18 months, a range of small to medium-sized charities – defined as those with an income of £10k to £1m – were analysed to gather evidence for the the research.

Findings showed that smaller charities combined three distinctive features in how they support people and communities to set them apart from larger charities.

Firstly, it's who smaller charities serve and exactly what they do for these individuals which sets them apart – through plugging gaps left by other organisations and being the 'first responders' to people in real crisis.

Secondly, is how smaller charities work; by building person-centred relationships with clients for longer, and through being known for their 'open door approach' and understanding of local issues.

And, finally, the role of smaller charities within their communities – essentially, by using their well-established and fear-reaching networks to act as the 'glue' that holds communities together.

Paul Streets, Chief Executive of the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, said: 'For over 30 years we have funded thousands of small and local charities knowing their work changed lives, but this research sets out why – they’re distinctive in who they serve, what they do and how they work.

'From Carillion, to Probation privatisation, to Grenfell Tower and now with this research, the evidence is overwhelming - big contracting doesn’t work and people and communities value small and local charities. Yet too little has changed - this must now be a call to arms and action.

'We call on Government to put smaller charities at the heart of their new Civil Society Strategy. There is not a moment to lose.'

The full report can be accessed and read on the CRSER website. To read more from the Lloyds Bank Foundation, click here.