Since the COVID-19 pandemic reached the UK, small charities have been working tirelessly to support the communities and people they serve. Across the country, they’ve been delivering care parcels, providing outreach services, and cooking hot meals for some of Britain’s most vulnerable populations.
Their contribution to communities, individuals and causes across the UK is invaluable.
Here, Rosemary Macdonald, CEO of UK Community Foundations, sheds light on five key things everyone should know about small charities:
- Great things come from small beginnings
Small charities are the backbone of our communities, and they have a vital impact across the UK – making a difference daily to hundreds of thousands of people. As they’re usually run by people in the community they serve, their work can be highly focused on the individuals who will benefit most – meaning they can make small grants go a long way.
For example, the Hand on Heart Al-Mizan Charitable Trust was able to support 500 homeless people in Holborn, Trafalgar Square and Brent with packs of essentials and hygiene items – thanks to a grant of £6,452 from the London Community Foundation.
- Small charities can operate, and access places larger ones can’t
Small charities will more often than not work locally, putting them in a strong position to build relationships in the community. In turn, they are able to respond quickly in times of crises – such as throughout the coronavirus pandemic – and help those whose voices aren’t often heard.
While national charities provide services to tackle issues across the UK, small charities focus on the hyper local level of support – varying from delivering food parcels for vulnerable people in isolation to creating activities for young people at risk of mental health issues.
In Eastbourne, the Willingdon Trees Help Point has been established by the staff and volunteers at Willingdon Trees Community Centre to help people in the surrounding areas of Eastbourne. Using a £5,000 grant from Sussex Giving, the Help Point has been able to help more than 40 vulnerable people with essential tasks like shopping and prescription collection. Volunteers have also set up a telephone befriending service to tackle the loneliness people are feeling as the result of ‘shielding’ and ‘isolation’ policies.
Volunteers are also feeling the benefit, with many saying that being able to do something to help others in these difficult times feels good and is helping them to cope too.
- Small charities can respond quickly and effectively to crisis
When COVID-19 took hold in the UK, small charities were quick to innovate and adapt their existing services. Almost overnight, community groups, food parcels and services to ensure vulnerable members of the community wouldn’t become isolated, were launched.
The Community Foundation model of delivering funding makes this fast and effective work possible. Working with the National Emergency Trust (NET), UKCF was able to get £8.2million to almost 2,514 organisations in the first month alone – fuelling essential work at a local level.
- They need the support of corporate partners to survive
Although their work is essential for many vulnerable people, smaller charities rarely have the resources to launch impressive fundraising campaigns and initiatives. As a result, the support of corporate partners is essential to fund their work.
UK Community Foundations works with forward-thinking corporate donors, including confectionery brand such as Mars Chocolate UK and building societies like Nationwide and other partners, to create tailored programmes of grant making. Grants are then divided across small charities nationwide via local Community Foundations, making sure every penny gets to where it is most needed.
- As we move on from COVID-19, they’ll be essential
COVID-19 has had an undeniable impact on the charity sector, with a reported £10 billion shortfall in funding across the UK’s charities.
As we continue to tackle the effects of COVID-19 and rebuild the charity sector, small charities will be essential. Their grassroots work at a local level sometimes flies under the radar but the impact it has on people’s lives is invaluable.