Small charity sector suffers from skills deficit, survey reveals

A lack of expertise in areas such as fundraising puts more pressure on overstretched organisations, says Pauline Broomhead of the Foundation for Social Improvement

Pauline Broomhead
Pauline Broomhead

Many small charities are struggling in areas such as fundraising and long-term strategic planning because of skills gaps, new research shows.

The UK Small Charity Sector Skills Survey 12/13 was published yesterday by the Foundation for Social Improvement, a charity that supports small charities by providing training, advocacy and support.

It drew responses from 308 charities with annual turnovers of less than £1.5m. Thirty-seven per cent of respondents said they could not improve their services because of skills gaps among staff; 66 per cent said they had no funding available for training and development.

Pauline Broomhead, chief executive of the FSI, launched the survey on Monday evening. It is sponsored by the Institute of Fundraising and the Cabinet Office.

Broomhead said that many small charities had adequate skills in terms of completing applications for funding from local authorities, this source of income was in decline. Thirty-five per cent of respondents to the survey said they did not have the necessary skills or experience in areas such as dealing with major donors, or in corporate or online fundraising.

"Although all charities are facing increased pressures during this time of economic uncertainty, these issues place a greater strain on small charities," Broomhead said. "These organisations are already overstretched, with staff taking on multiple roles and a heavy reliance placed on volunteers to deliver services."

Fifty-seven per cent of respondents to the survey said that fundraising vacancies were the hardest to fill.

The event on Monday also featured the launch of this year’s Small Charity Week, which takes place from 17 to 22 June. Small charities can sign up for free initiatives and competitions, and advice and guidance from third sector and business experts.

Jenna Pudelek

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