5 BIG reasons why we love SMALL charities

We are passionate about the big impact made by small charities, and here is why.

Small charities are an integral part of the community. They serve as the support group, the social network, the anticipated weekly activity, the driving force behind local climate action, the number to call for advice, and the welcome safety net during a crisis.

We work with donors at a local level, on a national scale, to deliver much-needed support to these crucial services.

For #SmallCharityWeek, we want to share 5 of the BIG reasons why we love SMALL charities: 

1. SMALL charities give a BIG voice to underrepresented communities

Having a safe, inclusive space is vital for people of all backgrounds and all protected characteristics. Small charities are often the first point of call when an individual is looking for support. For example, Eikon is a charity in Surrey, previously funded by the Community Foundation for Surrey, that runs a fun and safe LGBTQ+ youth club for under 18s where young people can explore their identities and get support for any challenges they face.  

“It is such a privilege to be a part of this group that is making such a huge difference to the lives of young people across Surrey.”

- Volunteer, Eikon

Small charities have played an instrumental role in the progression of people’s rights for decades, supporting social action like Pride Month and civil rights movements, from the heart of communities. BME Suffolk Support Group is a small charity that helps migrants and the Black and minority ethnic community to achieve social equality and improve community wellbeing. With funding from Suffolk Community Foundation, the group was able to set up its African Food Pantry – a vital service during the pandemic for families in the area. 

2. SMALL charities support refugees in a BIG way

When conflict occurs, it impacts the lives of millions of people. The situation in Afghanistan last year and the invasion of Ukraine are sadly just two examples where conflict has displaced people. #RefugeeWeek is a chance to reflect on the impact of conflict and raise awareness of the challenges refugees face. It also allows us to recognise and support the work being done by small charities around the world that help displaced communities adjust to their new lives.  

Leeds Refugee Forum is a refugee-led charity that provides practical support, information and advice to refugees in the Leeds area. Funding from Leeds Community Foundation has previously helped the charity to raise awareness during Refugee Week, encouraging people to experience different cultures and activities.  

Our network is working extensively with small refugee charities to support Ukrainian refugees. You can find out more in this article. 

3. SMALL charities were here for us BIG time throughout Covid  

Without the vital services from small charities, communities everywhere would have struggled throughout the Covid-19 peaks of 2020 and 2021. From neighbourly phone calls, food deliveries, transportation to medical appointments, and financial advice, to virtual support groups, digital workshops and mental health support phonelines – around every corner was a group of volunteers working hard for their community. You can read about some of the amazing work small charities achieved in our 2021 Response to Coronavirus report. 

Among the most-needed services was mental health support to cope with depression, loneliness, grief, anxiety, and other mental health issues. We talk about the incredible work of small charities in this Mental Health Awareness article. 

4. SMALL charities provide a BIG shoulder for households facing poverty 

The cost-of-living crisis has hit communities hard after a tough two years. With inflation currently at 7.8% and increasing food and beverage prices, up to 8.5 million UK households are predicted to face fuel poverty this winter.  

The Drop In and Share Centre (DISC) in Newquay, supported by Cornwall Community Foundation, is a local charity that provides food and emergency support for those in food and/or fuel poverty. It works with the nearby food bank and other organisations, helping clients to access services such as housing support and provision, mental and physical health support, benefits entitlements, along with employment and training. Newquay has a large homeless community and DISC offers catering for them and clothing. 

Small charities like this depend on core support to have the flexibility to make decisions on supplies, bills, staffing, and equipment efficiently in order to meet local needs. Our network is wholeheartedly involved in supporting groups like DISC through our winter appeals, many of which run throughout the year. 

5. SMALL charities know how to throw BIG celebrations for communities 

While there are many challenges facing our society right now, community foundations also know that communities thrive when they come together in celebration!  

Through our Let’s Create Jubilee Fund, in partnership with Arts Council England and thanks to National Lottery Good Causes players, we were able to fund over 700 grants to small charities and community groups across the country. The fund has supported the connection of a diverse range of charities and local artists to develop creative and cultural activities for communities, in celebration of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Find out about some of the wonderful Jubilee activities run by small charities in Manchester, supported by Forever Manchester. 

Small charities are there for us in the moments we need them. For tomorrow’s communities to thrive, small charities need our support now.

"I think the best thing funders can do is to give unrestricted funding as much as possible to small charities and community groups. Not to expect them to dress something up into a project that's 'fundable', but to respect the work that charities are doing and make it as easy as possible to help them deliver the services that are needed."

- Rosemary Macdonald, CEO at UKCF

You can support the fantastic charities in your local community now by getting in touch with your nearest community foundation

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