Time is running out – will tenacity and resilience get us much further?
Why are many small charities and community groups “struggling to survive”? The answer is simple and it’s all to do with the math. Since March 2013 all charities large and small have been working in a tough financial climate. During the same period the demand for the services they deliver has increased by 102 percent and it’s a trend that doesn’t look much like changing with an increase of +14 percent Year One, +22 percent Year Two, +27 percent Year Three and +39 percent Year Four. With percentage increase going up year on year we are looking at a very steep increase in demand for services between June 2017 and March 2018.
Resources are stretched of that there is little doubt, but resilience, a characteristic of small charities and community groups, is at an all-time low. Our most recent Index Survey has revealed that 19 percent of all small charities and community groups fear for the future, potentially looking towards closure in the coming 12 months. The organisations that are at the heart of our communities across the UK and beyond are at breaking point.
With fewer than one in twelve Directors of Adult Social Care services fully confident that their local authority will be able to meet its statutory duties in 2017/18; with 28 percent of local authority care services inadequate or requiring improvement and with the number of unpaid carers increasing between 2013 and 2014 by 16.5 percent when the general population only grew by 6.2 percent, it is within this challenging context that we have never needed our small charities and community groups more.
There is little doubt that in the coming year’s social care will be at the forefront of our political agenda as local authorities grapple with tightening budgets, rising costs and rising demand. As they respond to these pressures by reducing the number of people who receive state-funded social care the only place for those outside the system will be to turn to small charities and community groups within their own communities.
But it is not only small charities and community groups delivering social care that are feeling the crunch. In a recent report carried out by the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary organisations, it showed that more than a third of charities had to dip into their reserves last year to cover a shortfall in income. Unsurprisingly one of our biggest challenges over the coming years will be achieving financial sustainability.
Now, more than ever before small charities and community groups will need to ‘anchor down’ and draw on their strengths: our volunteers whose numbers are increasing, the resilience and passion of those who work in the sector (trustees and staff) and our shared determination to build a better society for all.
Pauline Broomhead is the Founder & CEO of the FSI.