Small but vital: local charities matter

Did you know that small charities represent 97 per cent of Britain's charity sector? While many small charities operate across the UK and even overseas, many deliver their services in their local community. Yet - alarmingly - a third of Brits can't name a single local charity and only one in 10 can name more than one.

So why does this matter? Well, it's because local charities are the lifeblood of the communities they serve, playing a vital role in supporting the daily lives of thousands of people.

Take the North Nottinghamshire Community First Responders, for example. They're a group of 30 volunteers who provide life-saving emergency care in their local neighbourhood until the arrival of an emergency ambulance. And, for patients experiencing cardiac arrest, every second counts. A person's chances of survival can decrease by up to 10 per cent with every minute that passes without defibrillation. So getting to an emergency quickly really can be the difference between life and death.

Struggling to get their voices heard

There are thousands more of course, but the reality is that small and local charities up and down the country are struggling to get their voices heard. According to our research, many are operating in an awareness vacuum and more than half of the small charities we spoke to said larger charities - with significant marketing budgets and expertise - present a challenge to their fundraising efforts.

As well as a lack of awareness and competition from bigger charities for funding, our Local Charities Matter report also highlights how, so often, small charities also struggle with a skills gap. These are often very small organisations and 43 per cent say they are unable to take on new work, even though there is demand for their services.

Small Charity Week

That's why Small Charity Week (13 - 18 June 2016) is raising awareness of the essential work of the sector in local communities across the country.

This is something that TSB and I care very passionately about. Since 2015, we've supported over 480 charities through our Local Charity Partner programme and have already raised more than £650,000 for them. We are now calling on others to work in partnership to safeguard the future of these fantastic local causes and the vital role they play in communities across Britain.

Five ways to help small charities

This certainly isn't a criticism of larger charities - they do fantastic work, which mustn't be overlooked. However, we want to encourage more people to support local charities and work with their communities to really help them to thrive. And, what better time to start than Small Charity Week?

Here are five tips to help you:

  1. Find a local cause
    Don't know what charities are local to you? Want to find one you are passionate about? Check out Guidestar and Small Charity Directory .
  2. Raise awareness
    If a local charity helps you, or someone you know, or if you or someone you know raises money for a local cause, then spread the word.
  3. Work in partnership
    Encourage a local business to support a local charity, working together to share knowledge and expertise.
  4. Volunteer
    Not sure where to start? Small Charities Coalition offers resources to help you give time and expertise - whether skills, fundraising, becoming a trustee, or organising employee volunteering.
  5. Give
    Don't forget a little can go a long way. Want to do more? Speak to your local charity or check out Local Giving for ideas.

By working in partnership we can all make a big difference.

Research methodology

Consumer research carried out by OpinionMatters in December 2015 with over 1,000 UK adults in the UK (excluding Northern Ireland). Small charity research carried out by ComRes between 25th November and 17th December 2015. ComRes surveyed 301 small local charities by telephone.

The sample was defined as registered independent charities with an annual turnover of up to £200,000, whose work focuses mainly in supporting the local area or region. Data was weighted by broad region to be representative of charities in the UK. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables can be found at

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