Tania Mason: A snapshot of society

20 May 2024 In-depth

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By only4denn, Adobe

Every year, as well as providing a rare opportunity to showcase and celebrate the important work of our amazing sector, the Charity Awards also offers a critical snapshot of what’s really going on in our society in any given year – and shows us how civil society is responding.

I doubt it will surprise anybody to learn that in 2024, we have been overwhelmed with applications from organisations working in the field of mental health, or expanding their provision to include projects addressing mental health needs. In fact, we had mental health and wellbeing entries in most categories, not just in healthcare – the arts category, the education and training category, social care, disability, campaigning and advocacy. If only Rishi Sunak was one of our Charity Awards judges and able to read about the scope and scale of activity going on across the country to respond to this crisis. Perhaps then he might have shown some compassion for the growing numbers of people accessing (or waiting to access, with 1.9 million on mental health waiting lists) services, instead of belittling and stigmatising them further.

We also saw a large number of applications this year from charities supporting refugees and asylum seekers, and from those working with prisoners. And we had a strong field of entries in the arts category, with lots of social care charities using the arts as therapy or other means of support. This was particularly poignant as arts funding is under threat in many local authority areas.

Encouragingly, on the whole the entries seemed a good deal more professional this year; a reflection, we hope, of charities’ growing recognition of the importance of good governance, strong leadership and effective strategic planning. Many charities cited their use of a theory of change, and a large proportion referenced their “robust evaluation framework” or similar, underscoring the importance of reporting an organisation’s impact. Many had worked with universities to measure and evidence their effectiveness.

The full shortlist can be seen in the issue. Many congratulations to all those that made the list, and thank you to everyone who entered. Please don’t be too disheartened if your charity’s name isn’t there – it really is a tough contest and seems to get tougher each year.

The winners will be announced at the Charity Awards ceremony and online on 9 July, with full coverage in the July edition of G&L.

Loss and legacy

It’s still only May, but we have already lost several of the sector’s leading lights this year. January saw the passing of Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh and Aesop founder Tim Joss. In March we lost consultant and interim manager (and former G&L columnist) Elizabeth Balgobin and Richard Taylor, founder of anti-knife crime charity the Damilola Taylor Trust. Fundraiser Mark Astarita passed away on 26 April and CoppaFeel! founder Kris Hallenga died on 6 May. Each and every one of them made an incalculable contribution to their causes and/or the wider sector. They will all be terribly missed by friends and colleagues, but we can take comfort from the knowledge that they will remain with us forever thanks to the legacy of their fine work and the impact that they made.

Governance & Leadership is a bimonthly publication which helps charity leaders and trustees on their journey from good practice to best practice. Written by leading sector experts each issue is packed with news, in-depth analysis and real-life case studies of best practice in charitable endeavour and charity governance plus advice and guidance straight from the regulator. Find more information here and subscribe today!



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