Neil Poynton

Head of Charities
Charities Aid Foundation


Celebrating excellence with a night at the Charity Awards 2021

The Charity Awards is one of the highlights of the year for me, as I’m sure it is for many others in the sector. It’s an opportunity to step back and acknowledge the determination, passion and sheer hard work the UK’s charities show, and indeed their impact on the causes and beneficiaries we work to support.

There’s no denying the pandemic has been a tough time for all of us, as Matt Nolan, CEO of Civil Society Media, put it when opening last week’s awards: “The coronavirus pandemic has presented charities with a perfect storm of huge falls in income, alongside rising demand for services and only limited support from the government.”

It’s against this backdrop that this year’s awards become all the more significant. Charities have shown remarkable resilience and innovation in continuing to provide much-needed support and services to beneficiaries in the face of adversity.

For over 20 years, the Charity Awards, hosted by Civil Society Media, have recognised excellence among charities, regardless of their size, location or cause. This year was no different, albeit virtually. Despite the presentation ceremony being live-streamed, there was a real celebratory and supportive atmosphere in the ‘room’, with the chat feed brimming with well wishes and congratulatory messages.

Ten winners were announced from categories ranging from Arts, Culture and Heritage to International Aid and Development, in addition to the new Rathbones COVID-19 Response Award. All shortlisted charities went through a rigorous judging process run by an independent panel of 10 prominent sector individuals, including Monica Brown, Head of Charity Advisory and Programmes here at CAF.

My team and I at Charities Aid Foundation were delighted to sponsor the Grantmaking and Funding category, honouring charities providing vital funding and financial support to specific causes. The winner of this award, announced by Andy Haldane, Chief Economist of the Bank of England, was Five Talents UK.

Five Talents works with some of the poorest communities in Africa, Asia and South America, combining a microfinance model to help communities save and borrow money with longer-term training in finance literacy and business skills. To date, it has supported nearly 10,000 members and made loans of £12.2m.

Upon the announcement, a spokesperson for the charity said, “Having savings shows that you have hope for tomorrow. We all need hope for tomorrow. This award will help Five Talents unlock the talents, build resilience and renew hope in more communities this year. Thank you all.”

I extend my heartfelt congratulations to all the winners, and indeed the short-listed charities on their well-deserved achievements. I hope the accolade spurs and inspires them to continue serving their beneficiaries, for that’s our ultimate goal.

Watch the Grantmaking and Funding category announcement below: