Photo of Frankie Hockham

Small but mighty by Frankie Hockham, VCSE and Community Development Officer

The voluntary sector is made up of a wide variety of organisations – from small community groups to large national charities, with each organisation playing a unique role in serving its users.

In Buckinghamshire, the vast majority of voluntary organisations registered with the Charity Commission are small or micro – with 4 out of 5 charitable organisations considered ‘small’ (with an annual income of £100,000) or ‘micro’ (under £10,000)*  – meaning that much of the essential work carried out in the county is delivered through these smaller organisations.

At the heart of the community but in need of help

There are hundreds of small charities working hard in Buckinghamshire to support local causes and communities. Due to their size and nature, they have unique attributes – for example, with many being run by volunteers taking on multiple roles, they are more flexible and can respond to service user needs. Similarly, being embedded in local communities with extensive knowledge and understanding of the area, they are able to reach groups and individuals that other organisations are unable to connect with.

As a result, they are often the ‘first responders’ to newly emerging needs at a local level ** – something we saw in action during the Covid-19 pandemic. However, as highlighted by a recent Lloyds Bank’s the Value of Small in a Big Crisis report, these small charities are experiencing a change in demand as more people, with more complex problems, need their help. This development, coupled by the impact of the pandemic on income generation, has meant that many small charities need help themselves.

How we can help

As a small charity ourselves, we understand the challenges that you may face and are able to support and advise your organisation on all aspects of running a voluntary organisation, including funding, governance, and recruiting and managing volunteers both during the crisis and beyond.

Here are some of the ways we can help your organisation:

  • Improving access to funding: 24% of local voluntary organisations stated that funding is one of their biggest challenges ***. If you would like help securing funds, join our free Meet the Funder sessions, read about the latest funds and register with Bucks Funding Search, get free tailored advice at a one-to-one advice session, and pick up tips on writing a successful grant.
  • Supporting sustainability: we have introduced new resources to help organisations looking at other funding streams including legacies, challenge events, and individual giving.
  • Sharing resources to support operations: we provide guidance and advice to charities on how to run their group or get started.
  • Training and advice: we deliver training on a range of topics including safeguarding, funding, governance, and recruiting and managing volunteers, as well as bespoke coaching for charity leaders and pro bono legal advice clinics.
  • Finding volunteers: nearly a quarter of local voluntary organisations stated that finding enough volunteers is one of their biggest challenges ***. We support groups with volunteer recruitment, developing volunteering policies, role descriptions and volunteering strategies. As well as promoting general and expert volunteer vacancies, we manage the Volunteer Matching Service which places volunteers with groups and organisations across the county.
  • Connecting the voluntary sector and facilitating cross-sector partnerships: we are part of several policy groups in Buckinghamshire and neighbouring counties to ensure cross-sector collaboration in areas such as healthcare and community-led housing, making sure that the voice of the voluntary sector is heard and taken into account.

What is Small Charity Week?

Since 2010, organisations have set aside one week in June to celebrate, support, champion and appreciate these small charities – Small Charity Week.  If you are a charity with an income of under £1 million, check out the range of activities and training which are available during the week at Small Charity Week 2021 and, for organisations operating within Buckinghamshire looking for support, contact Community Impact Bucks on 0300 111 1250 or info@communityimpactbucks.org.uk

Next steps

If you or a colleague would like regular updates on the latest fund available, up-to-date advice on all aspects of running a voluntary organisation, and news relevant to the Bucks voluntary sector, join our free Community Impact Bucks membership scheme.

* Charity Commission public register data 14 April 2021

** The Value of Small

*** State of the Sector Survey 2020

 

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