George Young

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SMALL CHARITY SURVIVAL: LESSONS FROM THE FIELD

CAF RESILIENCE PROGRAMME ISSUES NEW REPORT

27 September 2019

Download the CAF Resilience report here.

A dedicated programme aimed at helping small charities to develop has shared its early lessons into how they can ensure their long term survival, and the continuation of the vital services they provide.

Ten small to medium sized charities across the UK have been receiving grant funding and bespoke advice and training on the Charities Aid Foundation’s (CAF) Resilience programme, funded by philanthropists.

“We see the programme as the starting point for a wider campaign, one that creates an environment where smaller charities know what they need to become more resilient. We hope that charities will feel emboldened to convey these needs with clarity and urgency to the wide array of funders who assist their vital work,” says the manager of the programme, Beth Clarke.

CAF Resilience body image

The Resilience programme has five core recommendations for funders:

  • Fund small charities to focus on their organisational strength and resilience: time with an independent advisor will help them to identify what they really need.
  • Build long-term relationships with small charities: multi-year funding with agreed outcomes but flexibility offers stability as charities come to grips with their plans to become more resilient for the future.
  • Show confidence in small charities and create an atmosphere of honesty: encourage the charity to be honest about what does or doesn’t work and where their skills gaps lie.
  • Recognise that you might not be able to “see” your funding working: organisational strength is not bricks and mortar but it can offer unseen benefits with real impact.
  • Recognise that building partnerships takes time and therefore money: exploring partnerships to become more effective is not a quick process, but with a clear strategy, they can pay off in the long term.

CAF Resilience also gained insights from the charities themselves.

  • Several concluded that delivering on their mission meant doing less and not more, with a renewed focus on quality and impact. One programme partner – Home Start Lincolnshire – stopped delivering work that wasn’t vital to their vision, in order to focus on what really matters to the families they support.
  • Managing income generation is one of the most stubborn challenges CAF Resilience partners faced. The Link CIC – an organisation supporting the mental health of young people and their families – used some of their grant to buy in external bid writing support, but work on the programme led them to instead try upskilling delivery staff, plus fund a few extra hours each month to develop relationships with schools that could pay for their services. After just six months, they had three times as many schools contracted for their services and a robust pipeline.

CAF’s Clarke said while it might not be the first thing people think of when they plan to fund a charity, this approach to building for the future is critical, as is inspiring more major donors to support charities in this way.

“This will ensure that these services that so many people depend upon will survive. In uncertain times, organisational resilience has perhaps never been more crucial for small charities across the UK.”

Notes to editors

CAF exists to make giving go further, so that more lives and communities around the world can be transformed.

CAF is a charity and a champion for better giving, and for over 90 years has helped donors, companies, charities and social organisations make a bigger impact. Through CAF Bank, it offers simple and straightforward day-to-day banking, designed exclusively for charities.

We are CAF and we make giving count.

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George Young: gyoung@cafonline.org

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Office: 03000 123 442 / Mobile: 07921 315 344

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