The government does not understand the needs of small charities and is acting in ways that prevent them from engaging, the chief executive of the Small Charities Coalition has said.
In an interview with Civil Society News, Mandy Johnson, who joined SCC as chief executive last August, said that despite positive rhetoric from government about small charities there was still a “lack of understanding” about how to work with them.
She’s noticed that the government has been talking about small charities a lot more in the last couple of years.
“I would like to think the reason that is happening is because they recognise that the UK would fall apart without small charities right now,” she said.
But that the way it carried out the recent consultation on the upcoming civil society strategy was an example of it acting in a way that was not inclusive of smaller organisations.
The document itself was “far too long and time consuming for most people to get their head around”.
Sector needs to step
She also called on the rest of the charity sector itself to do more to recognise that the sector is an “ecosystem” and that it is “unhelpful” for the sector’s narrative to pit small and large charities against each other.
There are “mixed levels of understanding” about how small charities fit in and why they are a “vital part of the ecosystem”.
“Some people assume that someone who works for small charities doesn’t have the capability of someone who works for large charity,” she said, but this is “definitely not my experience”.
Her views echo those of Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, who wrote in a blog to mark Small Charity Week that “the success of all charities is bound together” and highlighted examples of how small and large charities could work together.
“We are all stronger when we nurture all parts of this ecosystem," he wrote. "Small charities in particular are the foundation on which everything else grows. We all have a responsibility to make sure we support them.”
Most people cannot name a small charity
But the small charities community still faces a challenge.
Some 64 per cent of respondents to a poll about small charities said that they could not name one, but 62 per cent still think they had a positive impact on society.
The Charites Aid Foundation commissioned YouGov to survey over 1,000 people about their thoughts on small charities.
It also found that 41 per cent of people associate small charities with being local and that 63 per say they have done something to support a small charity.