Regulation with Rosie: small grant-making charities

All publicity may be good publicity in Hollywood, but it can be a poisoned chalice for the more than 34,000 grant-making charities on the register with incomes of less than £10,000 a year.

Some have an understandable dread of any kind of publicity, because it inevitably leads to a deluge of requests for things they can't give grants for.

Yet a bit of networking effort and basic research could improve these charities' effectiveness considerably. Given their low levels of income, they are more likely to be local charities - many with particular restrictions over and above the amount they have to give. Some might help people with payments for furniture. Others might help with school uniforms. Some will be able to help only older people, and others are limited to children.

There are likely to be a lot of small grant-making charities in your area that can help people your charity can't. But if they don't know about each other's existence, then a potential beneficiary might well give up after failing at his first port of call. That's not a good strategy.

Alternatively, telling someone that your charity can't give grants for clothing but you know of other organisations locally that do, could help improve the relevance of the requests that charities receive. If more small charities were aware of others in their areas, then life for their trustees could become more productive.

If you're in this position, why not take the initiative to improve effectiveness and services to beneficiaries? Your local CVS might have a list of local grant makers. You could even involve your local paper in the search. It might help track down all those other grant-making charities that might be just around the corner and the perfect complement to your activities.

- Rosie Chapman is executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission.

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