Regulation with Rosie: exit strategies

Of the charities that rely primarily on EU or SRB funding, 69 per cent have no exit or succession strategy - an anomaly in what is otherwise a sea of good practice

In the run-up to Christmas, I've been on the road with the commissioners, talking to community-based charities in a number of cities and towns.

These organisations are doing real coalface work, and their challenges are very different from those faced by household-name charities.

One thing clearly hitting hard is the ending of the Single Regeneration Budget and of EU funding for the voluntary sector – a loss of £170m a year, according to David Cameron in his Scarman lecture in November.

That's a lot of funding, and its loss will inevitably hit regeneration charities the hardest. But I was reminded of our report, The Regeneration Game, which found that nearly a third of these charities rely primarily on EU or SRB funding, yet 69 per cent have no exit or succession strategy - an anomaly in what is otherwise a sea of good practice.

Our guidance on regeneration as a charitable purpose says that as an area is regenerated a charity should withdraw its services because it has, in effect, served its purpose. However, real change in these areas can take decades to achieve - making exit or succession plans vital for those reliant on short-term funding, not least to manage public expectations when the charity is gone.

The end is implicit in the beginning, so these charities need to be clear from their inception how they will end. This doesn't have to mean losing the contacts, experience or surplus funds gained when the charity was 'active'. Merging with another similar charity when specific projects were complete was an option for a number of organisations in our report and it can make a lot of sense.

But carrying on job with your job purely for its own sake is a waste of effort and, especially, funding that could be used to benefit communities in new ways.

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