BY RONNIE BROWN, PHILANTHROPY DIRECTOR
It’s a really tough time for local charities at the moment and we are seeing at first hand some of the consequences of this on a daily basis. Demand for our grants has increased (£800,000 in grants in the last quarter alone – up 20% from this time last year), our capacity to respond is stretched and other traditional sources of funding support are being reduced.
We recently funded a ‘State of the Sector’ survey for the West of England, coordinated by VOSCUR and contributed to by all of the Council for Voluntary Sector Organisations (CVSs) in the area. Their findings paint a stark picture; local groups who took part reported:
- a 60% increase in demand for their services
- alongside 75% who said they had seen their staffing levels reduce in the last year.
- At the same time 64% said it was possible or ‘very likely’ that they’d have to dig into financial reserves this year to keep going,
- with less than half feeling confident that they could survive the next five years.
- Encouragingly 70% are already working collaboratively with others to deliver services in a cost effective way and more plan to do so in the coming year.
In this landscape, we’re supporting conversations between groups who are considering innovative changes to how they deliver services, and we are trying to help a number of organisations doing fantastic work locally to support disadvantaged people but who are at risk of collapse due to withdrawal of other sources of funding.
For example last month at short notice we brokered a £14,000 lifeline grant, with the active support of two Quartet fund holders, to Buzz Lockleaze, which improves local health, addresses social isolation and helps develop the skills, confidence and employability of local people. This grant will allow the group to continue their valuable work in the short-term while working hard to develop other sources of funding and income to sustain their work in the longer term. In Hartcliffe we’re working with a fund holder to provide funding plus business development support for a key community anchor organisation in the area, and in Southmead we continue to support local residents in allocating £250,000 of funding towards meeting their aspirations and priorities for the area.
We are also working hard with other local funders from the private and public sector to make best use of the limited amount of philanthropic funding available to meet local needs. This has involved us in a number of initiatives including a joint older people’s funding programme with St Monica’s Trust in North Somerset, advisory support for Bristol City Council’s voluntary sector funding decisions over the next three years, and contributing to emerging ideas about how to support community based, preventative work with young people at a time when statutory funding is increasingly concentrated on targeted youth work.
In a rapidly changing environment for local charities we have a responsibility to keep up to date with the aspirations and needs of the communities we serve; this involves learning – and sharing – new ways to look at the world around us.
Read our new Inspiring Giving leaflet for concise information about the charitable and voluntary sector here and in the UK, read our Vital Signs research which shows where local philanthropy can make an impact, or come to our informative philanthropy events throughout the year – marked in our calendar of events and sent to supporters throughout the year.
Ronnie Brown, Philanthropy Director
Ps. …take a look at this short film giving a good challenge to misconceptions about people’s needs www.notspecialneeds.com