Falling off a cliff edge - Covid-19 and small charities

To say that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected us all is somewhat of an understatement, although some groups have been affected far more than others. Small charities are one of the groups that have suffered the most. Many of whom diverted their usual services to address the needs of their local community in the pandemic.

Around half of small charities have been providing new services in response to Covid-19, but the funding programmes for many of these emergency services have ceased without traditional fundraising and activities being able to start again. Community groups rely on activities such as fetes and events to generate their income.

The concern is that small charities are about to fall off a cliff with little funding in place for the forthcoming year. Research is showing that the impact of the pandemic has been “uneven and unpredictable” on voluntary organisations and there are warnings of declines in funding from all sources of income.

Some headlines from Small Charities Data include:

  • Around half of small charities have had to adapt or reduce the way their services are delivered, with many unfunded charities being unable to continue delivering services
  • Overall, small charities experienced a variation in changes to their total income in 2020, compared to 2019, reflecting the financial precariousness of the sector.

In terms of the visibility of these small charities, unless we are directly involved in them and the work that they do it’s hard to understand the huge impact that they have on our communities. This impact, relative to the funding they receive, is one of the man reasons the SWPA Community Benefit Fund focuses on the small groups within the communities of our public sector clients.

Delivered in partnership with South West Community Matters, our fund delivers grants to small groups – creating greater social value in procurement through our frameworks and DPS’.

Jan Crawley, Director of South West Community Matters says ‘We must cherish these small community groups who have worked so hard during the pandemic to provide essential services to those in need, including such services as shopping for those who were stuck at home, bringing social contact to those who were alone, providing hot meals for those who were left without this provision. Now looking to the future, small charities are working with, and supporting many young people who have been so badly affected by the interruptions in their lives.’

With the combined effect of funding pressure to achieve better value for money, and social value outcomes in public sector procurement and Covid-19 on voluntary organisations – our grant programme is uniquely placed to have a positive effect on both parties.

Fortunately, this funding has been able to continue throughout the pandemic, the Baby Bank Network in Bristol is one group that received a grant. They help alleviate child poverty and support families at a what may be a time of financial and emotional stress, whilst reducing waste and promoting reuse of items.

Mary Bennell, Director of SWPA says ‘Our public sector clients know and work with community groups in their area. Because of their nomination from Brighter Places (formerly United Communities) SWPA and South West Community Matters have been able to contribute to a great example of how communities come together, especially in times of extreme hardship, such as that generated by the pandemic.’

Find out more about our fund here or view our case study on the Baby Bank Network to see what they achieved with their grant.

Download Case Study

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