Small charities:  Getting their ducks in a row to meet demand for services!

Press release | April 2018

Small charities:  Getting their ducks in a row to meet demand for services!

New research from the Foundation for Social Improvement’s (FSI) Small Charity Index reveals small charities are becoming ever more creative in how they support the demand for services, which is up an astonishing 134% since June 2013.

Respondents to the small charity index show they are reluctant to turn those in difficult circumstances away, using triage strategies to ensure the resources they have are put to best use. This includes supporting those they can, putting others on waiting lists and when there is no other option, signposting to other service providers.

Respondents state they are also reviewing services and looking at more targeted, shorter interventions rather than limiting support and increasingly looking at a tiered charging model, where those who can pay, or pay something, are asked to contribute to costs.  Finally, smaller charities are reviewing their priorities and focusing on their prime objectives and in some cases reluctantly closing down services that they are unable to fund.

Alongside the above, small charities and community groups are increasingly turning to more and more meaningful collaborations which are, according to this quarters FSI Small Charity Index, on the increase and are playing a key role in their response by working more closely together through both formal and informal collaborations.

Volunteers are playing an ever-increasing role in the provision of direct services as small charities and community groups restructure and reallocate resources

To increase financial resources to meet current demand for services respondents to the survey are diversifying income looking at what types of income would best meet their needs and suit their charity from setting up mission based enterprises through to crowd funding as well as raising their profile in their local communities to ensure that they are engaging with a wider audience as possible.

Pauline Broomhead CBE, CEO of the FSI said,

 “The FSI’s Small Charity Index certainly shows small charities and community groups are getting their ducks in a row to keep their doors as wide open as possible

I urge small charity and community group leaders to explore as widely and as creatively as possible the options they have to continue to deliver as many of their services as possible to those who depend on them. 

If you want to diversify your income or indeed look at how you set up a mission based enterprise get in touch with us we will be able to point you to the right training opportunity to meet your needs as it is so important in these challenging times to ensure that the staff and volunteers you have feel recognised, valued and supported in the challenges they face to make small and local charities and community groups and financially sustainable as possible.”

The full Small Charity Index report is available to download via the FSI’s website:



For additional information or interview requests please contact – Ellie Lynch 020 7324 4777

The FSI, Charity Number 1123384, supports the UK’s vibrant small charity sector with free and heavily subsidised training, advocacy and support programmes aimed at building sustainability and knowledge-sharing.

Charity members of the FSI have an annual turnover of under £1 million and membership is free.

The latest Small Charity Index report published today is a quarterly survey of the UK’s small charity leaders and trustees, which analyses trends in income, service delivery, workforce and governance.

The data gathering and analysis of trends is carried out by the FSI through its membership of over 6000 distinct small charities with a turnover under £1 million.

Total organisations surveyed June 2013 – November 2017 – 1641

Total organisations surveyed December 2017 – February 2018 – 280

Further report findings:

The report also looked at the trends in a small charity’s cyber security. A third (33%) report to be concerned about their IT security. The majority (64%) include IT security and data protection in their charity’s risk register, and only 2% of respondents suffered a security breach. However, just 25% have carried out any cyber security awareness raising activities for staff or volunteers.

Four years of Small Charity Index trends data key statistics:

Between June 2013 and February 2018:

  • Total increase for demand for services was 134%
  • Voluntary income increased by 4%
  • Statutory income decreased by 12%
  • Earned income increased by 12%
  • Use of reserves increased by 79%