Small Charity Week 2021 (14th-19th June) is our latest chance to acknowledge the work of small charities who serve critical functions in our society, whether through their grounding in a local community or dedication to a specialised cause with national reach. This has never been truer than since the onset of the pandemic.
Our work with small charities
I am proud to report that since the start of 2020, just over half (51%) of the 148 organisations Eastside Primetimers have worked with have been small charities. This includes charities involved in health and social care (63%), community services (16%), justice charities (8%), those working in housing (4%) and education (3%), and more. 11% were working at a national level.
We have been able to support them with a wide range of organisational needs. This has included capacity building projects (30%), recruitment (16%), fundraising and income diversification planning (15%), strategy work (7%), and assistance with mergers and partnerships (6%). This work includes a number we supported through a COVID-19 Business Continuity Support scheme during the first lockdown, which we reflected on lessons from at the time of last year’s Small Charity Week. Since February 2021, we have also run a programme of free monthly advice surgeries, with many of those signing up coming from small organisations.
Working with small Black and Minority Ethnic criminal justice organisations
It’s a real privilege to work with so many inspirational small charities such as Inspire Motivate Overcome (IMO), who are developing new counselling and wellbeing services for people who are in contact with the criminal justice system in Blackburn and East Lancashire. This is an exciting time for them. We’re delighted that through an ongoing business support partnership with Clinks and the Black Training and Enterprise Group (BTEG), we can help them with strategic service design advice, leadership support and advice on funding opportunities.
We find small community organisations come in all shapes, sizes and registrations, such as those founded as CIC that may still draw on grants and fundraising too. Again through the Clinks-BTEG programme, we are also working with the Birmingham-based group Himaya Haven, who support the families of those in the criminal justice system. Their work includes support groups, mentoring and emergency help when a family have lost their main source of income. Our work with them involves building a clear funding plan and an offer presentation for commissioners, with Himaya now aiming for Dynamic Framework. This framework is the main opportunity for voluntary organisations of all sizes to deliver services through the probation system, but the application process is unforgiving and famously bars many small community organisations from involvement despite their credentials. We have also helped the community music organisation Drum and Brass – which runs a poetry project for residents in HMP Leicester – with their organisational structure, to enable them to grow in a more sustainable way.
This is just a snapshot of the many small charities and groups that our team have had the privilege to work with. Together with many other stories from across our sector we have heard for Small Charity Week 2021, they illustrate the collective power that small grassroots organisations have to do big things.
Richard Litchfield is chief executive of Eastside Primetimers