It’s a tough world out there for charities, but help is available

The report by Localgiving which claims fewer than one in two local charities are confident they will still be operating in five years’ time made for a depressing read.

Published on Friday to coincide with the government’s first Local Charities Day, the report found that although 78 per cent of small charities expect demand for their services to increase, only 18 per cent feel they have the resources to meet that need.

Unreliable and ad hoc funding is clearly one of the key issues facing this sector. As the Local Giving report highlights, more than half (57%) see “generating income and achieving financial sustainability” as their most pressing issue over the next year. But it isn’t just about the money. Lack of skills, over-reliance on volunteers, distrust of partners, fear of losing control, bureaucracy and conflicting interests all featured highly on the list of challenges to overcome.

The frustrating thing about all of this is that there is help available. Looking at the Slack Comms client-base alone, there is help from the Foundation for Social Improvement which offers free training to small charities in areas such as fundraising, impact measurement and leadership. Allia, which delivers social impact through enterprise, offers business support, mentoring and incubation for charities and impact ventures across the east of England, and for all those charities based above the Watford Gap, the Weston Charity Awards provide access to both cash and business mentoring.

Business mentoring has proven to be very useful in ensuring the future sustainability of charities. While many in the sector decry the idea of becoming more business-like, learning from leaders within the corporate sector has proven time and time again to pay dividends.

As David Robinson, Chief Executive of LD: NorthEast in Tyneside, a winner of the 2016 Weston Charity Awards, told us: “The business mentors we now have access to are helping us to really look at what we do and ask us questions to help unlock solutions to our challenges. It is all aimed at helping us sharpen our focus so that we will be able to secure funding for the future and develop some vital new services for disabled people in the north east.”

The Weston Charity Awards are now taking applications for 2017. Launched by the Garfield Weston Foundation in 2014, they’re open to small charities across the North East, North West, Yorkshire and the Midlands working in the fields of Youth, Welfare and Community. Winning charities can expect to receive £6,500 in funding and have access to a team of senior business leaders through the award’s partner organisation Pilotlight, which will help them plan for success.

The deadline for applications is 13th January 2017 and, mindful of keeping the process as quick and simple as possible, the Foundation only asks for a one-page form to be filled out.

So if you’re a local charity wondering how on earth you are going to get through 2017, visit www.westoncharityawards.org and get your application in now.