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Cost-of-living crisis likely to push more charities to merge, says Mind chair

01 Jul 2022 News

Stevie Spring and Gary Forster at CFG's annual conference

More charities are likely to merge as a result of the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, the chair of mental health charity Mind has said. 

Speaking at Charity Finance Group’s (CFG) annual conference yesterday, Stevie Spring said there are currently too many small charities, predicting that the number of mergers and federated partnerships will increase in the future.  

Spring said that charities must ensure their voice is heard and find “new ways of funding” and be more “efficient within the confines of collaboration” in light of the challenging circumstances. 

She also said she feels “optimistic” about the future and that charities make a real difference to people who are struggling. 

Ongoing crisis likely to drive more mergers and partnerships

Asked by Gary Forster, chief executive officer of charity Publish What you Fund and chair of CFG, about the role of partnerships in the sector and whether they work, Spring said that “every single thing that we do is in partnership” and that nobody can solve the “big issues and questions on their own”.

“Partnership isn’t a choice,” she said. “Whether you’re in the commercial sector, the public sector, the private sector, the not-for-profit sector, we all work in partnership with our suppliers, our colleagues, even with other industry bodies.”

She continued: “The issue of financial sustainability is rarely one catastrophic event. It’s a whole series of little events and suddenly you find yourself in serious trouble. I genuinely predict that what we will see coming out of the current crisis is a series of mergers and federated partnerships that allow us all to maximise our backup house costs [and ensure] are below the line costs that allow us to concentrate on the outside world for an accelerated growth. 

“If you look at the proliferation of very small charities that are started for all the right reasons – because you want that intensity and passion that comes from your direct lived experience of whatever it is – they come at a time when there are just too many and we need to consolidate.”

‘We're not going to shrink to greatness’

Spring acknowledged that charities are facing difficulties in fundraising but said she remains optimistic about the future for the sector.

She said: “We are making a massive difference. Saving one person from taking their own life has to make everything else worthwhile. Let’s not pretend we haven’t been through mountains of crap in the last couple of years. But when we look forward at the difference that we can make, we can hold our heads up and say ‘it’s worth it’. I think it’s that that gets us out of bed in the morning. 

“We’re not going to shrink to greatness. We just have to find new ways of funding, new ways of doing more for less, new ways of working more in partnership, being more efficient within the confines of collaboration, which has a sort of in-built inefficiency in it, and shout louder, longer and harder. I’m an optimist and think that the not-for-profit sector in the UK is outstanding and has more than its fair share of the most spectacular people.”

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