PRESS RELEASE: FSI and NCVO partnership becomes new home of Small Charities Coalition Helpdesk

Today the Small Charities Coalition (SCC) announced that the FSI (the Foundation for Social Improvement) and NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) have come together to secure the SCC Helpdesk and other key services to ensure small charities can still access vital help and support following the winding down of the small charity membership body from 31 March 2022.

When the SCC announced its closure in December 2021, their Trustees and staff, together with representatives of various infrastructure bodies and funders, came together to consider how they could secure a positive legacy to best support small charities going forward. They identified that the Helpdesk provided a vital role and support for small charities which it was important not to lose and brought together proposals and funding to allow it to transition to a new host organisation. They also commissioned the production of an independent final evaluation report which is also released today - Small and Mighty: A report on the life and legacy of the Small Charities Coalition - to highlight the impact of the SCC, share lessons and secure its legacy for small charities.

The SCC Trustees invited organisations to pitch to take on hosting the Helpdesk and were delighted to receive six strong proposals. After a full assessment by SCC’s Trustees, and representatives of funders and infrastructure, they decided that the FSI and NCVO joint proposal represented the best outcome.

The SCC services and assets which will be transferred to the new FSI and NCVO partnership are:

  • The Small Charities Helpdesk and associated services, including the transfer of one full time staff member from SCC to provide a service within NCVO’s existing practical support team

  • Hosting and maintenance of the Charity Set Up Tool through

  • Maintenance of a resource hub for small charities

  • Data from the SCC Helpdesk which will be used to influence policy and funding opportunities for small charities.

The FSI and NCVO have agreed a partnership between the two membership bodies which combines their expertise and existing support for the benefit of the small charity sector and builds on the legacy of the SCC. This new initiative builds on an existing partnership between FSI and NCVO delivering governance e-learning and is intended to provide small charities with a clear route for support, helping to streamline access to advice and services. The partnership will also enable the collection and analysis of data, insights and emerging trends for small charities and sharing it more widely, including through the Lloyd’s Bank Foundation’s Small Charity Data Hub. This will support small charities in influencing policy and accessing funding opportunities.

Both FSI and NCVO already provide a wide range of support for small charities. The FSI has almost 9,000 members and offers advice, training, and consultancy to small charities, as well as delivering the Small Charity Week campaign in June each year. As England’s largest membership body for charities, 92% (almost 16,000) of NCVO’s 17,000+ membership fall under the SCC definition of a small charity (income under £1 million). NCVO already provides extensive services for small charities, such as online resources and training.

FSI and NCVO will develop their collective small charity offer through building on the FSI’s Small Charity Week campaign, exploring the provision of a peer support and mentoring programme, creating new e-learning opportunities, and ensuring small charities have a voice to policy makers.

Central to the new FSI and NCVO partnership will be the introduction of a small charities advisory group which will ensure the voices of small charities continue to be heard and are amplified in the transfer of services from SCC. This group will offer insight to FSI and NCVO to ensure the partners continue to meet and anticipate need. The group will have a role engaging other infrastructure partners and organisations in the small charity sector to ensure the partnership delivers and develops further the support needed by small charities.

Recruitment for this group will be through an open process and an interim Chair will be appointed to guide the early phases of the legacy work, with both announcements taking place soon.

Sarah Vibert, CEO of NCVO, commented on the partnership and transfer of services: “I know from running a small charity just how valuable the support provided by the Small Charities Coalition has been for smaller voluntary organisations, which make up the majority of our sector. I am delighted that alongside colleagues at the FSI and with the insight of a new small charities advisory group, NCVO will play a part in securing the legacy of the Small Charities Coalition. Together we will build on this legacy to ensure there is a distinct and comprehensive support offer for small charities, which evolves to meet changing needs.

“I am looking forward to welcoming Amy Walton to our team and learning from her vast experience and knowledge supporting small charities. I’d also like to recognise and thank the trustees of the Small Charities Coalition for their dedication to ensuring continuity of support for their members and all the work they have done to facilitate a smooth transfer of services.”