Small charities 'need more support from funders', report finds

Funders must do more to support small charities fighting for societal change, according to a new report from the Institute for Voluntary Action Research.

The report, called Small Charities and Social Change, which is based on 11 case studies, says core and infrastructure funding could allow smaller charities to take opportunities and free-up staff.

It adds that social change work and front-line service delivery cannot be separated by funders, and barriers between these functions should be removed.

Funders should also be prepared to fund work that “has an edge”, the report says, and ensure independent voices are maintained.

Even small contributions could be enormously beneficial to smaller charities, such as providing space for meetings, the report adds. 

Katie Turner, head of research at Ivar, said: “In an extremely tough social, economic and political climate, it’s proving more difficult than ever for small charities to speak out on the issues they see affecting people at the sharp end of poverty and exclusion. 

“Yet Ivar’s new research found countless inspiring examples of charities making a difference by speaking out – from contributing to changes in policy and legislation to empowering individuals affected by the issues to have a voice – and seeing change happen as a result.

“With their rich experience of front-line services, small charities are uniquely placed to bring the voices of those with direct experience of the issues to the fore. Our hope is that many more small charities will be inspired to get involved in social change work.”

Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy, communications and research at the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, said: “Social change work is not an add-on. To see lasting change, funders must recognise that front-line service delivery and advocacy are inextricably linked."

His said his charity was stepping up its support for small charities to influence social change and encouraged other funders to follow suit.

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