The existence of a million under-the-radar community groups that provide vital services and support could be in peril, according to the latest research from the Community Development Foundation.
Its report, Tailor-made: How Community Groups Improve People’s Lives, published today, says that between 600,000 and 900,000 "under-the-radar" groups exist in the UK.
Without small amounts of funding, the report says, much of the work these groups do would never happen, and the value of the services they provide, the volunteers that they attract and their impact on the community would be lost.
CDF is calling on the political parties to include pledges to maintain funding to small community groups in their manifestos for the next general election.
The research was carried out between September 2013 and July 2014, during which period CDF interviewed a group of partners – namely, the Asda Foundation, the Trust for London, Action with Communities in Rural England, the Community Development Finance Association, Community Matters and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action – and conducted a literature review.
"We’re calling for the government and other funders to preserve these vital funding streams that are a lifeline to small community groups," says the report. "Many activities still require funding, so generating this income remains a widespread concern and an enduring need for groups."
The report notes that community groups raise the majority of their funds through individual donations but that grant funding is still critical for many groups.
It says that small grants – of less than £10,000 – are particularly useful for "under-the-radar" groups, which are often too small to qualify for larger grant programmes.
The report also says that state funding represents a larger proportion of the funding mix for groups in deprived areas, making them more vulnerable to reductions in state spending than their counterparts in more affluent areas.