There are ‘way too many’ charities in the UK, says ActionAid chair

09 Feb 2018 News

Margaret Casely-Hayford speaking at Fundraising Live 2018

Margaret Casely-Hayford has said that there are “way too many” charities in the UK at the moment, and said that if charities “continue proliferating” the public will get angry with the sector.

Speaking as part of the opening panel at yesterday’s Fundraising Live conference, organised by Civil Society Media, Casely-Hayford chair of ActionAid and the Shakespeare's Globe and former lawyer, called on charities to think about where “the synergies are with others” and ask how they could “slim down” and "refine themselves".

Responding to a question from the floor about whether or not there were too many charities in the UK, Casely-Hayford said: “The economic climate is so harsh, that we really should be looking at ourselves very hard. There are way too many of us and we all jockey for position.

“What we should be thinking about now is where the synergies are with others, where we can collaborate, we can combine, where we can share back office, particularly if you’re small. Major industries are thinking about this; about how they slim down, how they refine themselves, how they can focus on their core activity, how they can share back office and how they collaborate and how they merge.

“We as a sector really ought to be thinking about that. I think the public will get very short tempered and annoyed with us as a sector if we continue proliferating in the way that we have been.”

‘I don’t want to be the person to say "no"’

Amanda Bringans, director of fundraising at the British Heart Foundation and chair of the Institute of Fundraising, said she agreed with Casely-Hayford’s point in principle but didn’t want to be the person to say no to anyone who had the impetus to start a charity themselves.

“Let’s just think about the impetus for setting up a charity. So when a parents loses a child, when a tragedy hits their lives, the first thing many of them do is want to set up a charity. I don’t want to be the person to turn around to them and say: ‘Sorry, you can’t’.”

She did say however that “some of the larger” charities, the British Heart Foundation included, should be “thinking about merging, thinking about sharing back office stuff, thinking about doing things more efficiently and better.”

Bringans also said that the sector should focus more on forging “better partnerships” with other charities, as well as with corporates. 

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