Thirteen-day window to apply to run scheme for local charities 'too short'

Voluntary sector criticise the government over the bidding process to run the Local Charities and Community Groups Match Fund

Voluntary sector bodies have criticised the government for giving less than two weeks to apply to run a fund designed to incentivise giving to local charities.

The Office for Civil Society yesterday published proposals for its Local Charities and Community Groups Match Fund, which will offer between £250,000 and £1m of government match funding for a fundraising campaign designed to support local charities in England.

The department said it wanted a provider to run a fundraising campaign to incentivise giving to local charities and that would help grow the size of the match funding pot by generating additional support from sources such as philanthropists and foundations.

The pot will then be used to match donations made by the public to local charities and community groups.

The OCS said the scheme was intended to form part of the government’s plans for a Local Charities Day, which was announced last month by Rob Wilson, the Minister for Civil Society. The date of the day is yet to be determined but the campaign must start by the end of 2016, the OCS said. 

Voluntary sector bodies expressed concern about the fact that the closing date for the scheme is Sunday 21 August – less than two weeks from when the proposals were published.

Neil Cleeveley, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, said: "Giving less than two weeks to submit a bid at the height of the holiday season doesn’t make sense and could undermine a really good campaign.

"Having this short deadline is no way to ensure the most suitable organisation runs the campaign and the best use is made of public money."

Cleeveley said he was concerned that it sent a message to other government departments about the use of short timeframes.

"They may well think that if it is OK for the Office for Civil Society, the champion of charities within government, to do then it is OK for them."

Ciaran Price, policy officer at the training and policy charity the Directory of Social Change, said any effort by the government to boost the value of donations to local charities was welcome but said it was a pity that the government felt the application process to run the scheme needed to be so rushed.

"Thirteen days is not enough time for applicants to put a proposal together and this risks undermining the value of sum being put up," he said.

"Extend the window for applications, explain what the fund is for in clearer terms and this investment could do something good for local communities."

A government spokesman said: "Our intention is to give the successful campaign as much time as possible to set up so they can bring maximum benefits for locally engaged and committed organisations."

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