The Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales have recently published a report Facing Forward: How small and medium-size Charities can adapt to survive.
The body of the report contains ten trends for smaller charities to be aware of, as well as a detailed analysis and recommendation around planning for financial sustainability. As might be expected from a Foundation whose funds derive from banking?
However, all charities in the UK provide unique and distinctive services to their beneficiaries, and no one cry for change will suit all, as will all calls for financial process change. Which may be irrelevant for mature, well-ordered and well governed charities, whatever their size.
None the less, for smaller charities who provide services to the vulnerable or distressed, there is much useful reflection to be found within the pages of the report. It is also an ideal primer to provide a broad context for current charitable activity in England, at a time of deep political change and financial stringency, which donors and supporters of small charities may be unaware of.
Some key report elements at frst reading:
The road to Brexit – the report offers a good analysis, highlighting the unknown road ahead for small charities, and predicts some of the changes that might be enacted once we are separated from the EU.
Local government at tipping point – with budget cuts at 40% by 2010 and the downward spiral continuing, local authorities will continue to make changes to service delivery that could affect the provision of support, currently funded by local government, but which falls outside LA statutory provision.
Preparing for the future – a section of the report which looks at aspects of technological deployment by small charities, making an argument that ‘digital capabilities’ will be an important element in charity infrastructure in the future.
The exploration of new income streams in this emerging new landscape, as well as partnership and collaborative work, that is both pro-actively sought and ‘owned’ by small charities as a result of the changes, is both encouraged and discussed in the report.
This is a detailed and intelligent assessment of an ‘industry’ undergoing change – the report is declarative on deficits emerging from change, but has, at its core, a road map for regenerative, optimistic and practical measures which should resonate with those of us who work for, or support, charities in England.
Facing Forward was written by Charlotte Ravenscroft, Evidential Consulting, March 2017