We were incredibly sad to learn of the imminent closing of the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) recently. This is yet another organisation providing vital support to small charities throughout the country that will no longer exist. This closure, within a year of the Small Charities Coalition closing down, has highlighted the funding struggle faced by intermediary and infrastructure support organisations. While not on the ground delivering services these organisations play an important role in providing support to civil society sector organisation’s growth and vibrancy, convening and listening and providing a joint voice for the sector. Without them, the sector suffers.
The vast majority of the 165k+ charities that are registered in the UK are small (with an annual turnover of less than £500,000). Small charitable organisations on the ground are crucial parts of their communities delivering needed services, innovating responses and ensuring those who fall through the gaps are cared for. Covid and the cost-of-living crisis have only served to increase demand for the sector’s support and services.
And yet support for the sector itself is shrinking. A February 2023 report from 360Giving* analysing charity sector infrastructure support in the UK has found that almost 1000 infrastructure organisations have closed down in the last 10 years. The majority of those that continue to exist are small. The report further determined that spending by the existing infrastructure organisations has not grown in real terms since 2010 while voluntary sector spending has grown by 20 per cent, indicating that infrastructure organisations have needed to spread their resources thin.
While closure of these organisations has been happening over the past 10 years or so, more recently Covid had an effect too. While some of the bigger infrastructure support organisations were provided an infusion of funds, the smaller ones, like Link UP, struggled immensely to access small amounts of needed funds that were completely redirected to short-term emergency support on the ground. At the same time, we had an increasing volunteer pool and demand for support from the organisations we work with.
Intermediary organisations remain a vital part of helping the sector be stronger, more effective and able to make a bigger difference in people’s lives. And in our current world, we need the services provided by this sector more and more. Here at Link UP we will continue to provide capacity building support for small charities in London and work with others to assist as we can to fill gaps in services. However, there is a need for much more support for this vital sector and it feels like now is truly the time to take action.
Find out how a Link UP Skilled Volunteer could support your charity, social enterprise or community group here.
*Read the full 360Giving report here
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