Over the 11 years since Almond Tree Strategic Consulting was founded, we have particularly specialised in supporting small to medium-sized charities. We love working with smaller charities because we think they deliver huge benefits with very limited resources and we believe we can make a big difference to help them grow, make more impact and stay safe and legal. Smaller charities are run by amazing people who are dedicated to their cause or community and who go the extra mile (or ten) to make a difference. They are the lifeblood of civil society in the UK and worldwide and the reason we do what we do.
That's why its fantastic to see the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales publish robust, independent evidence of the disproportionate value that small charities bring to society; that they can do things, reach people and solve problems that larger organisations can't (as Alex Van Vliet research and learning manager at Lloyds Bank Foundation so eloquently puts it).
The research, called The Value of Small, was conducted by the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University; the Institute for Voluntary Action Research and the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership at the Open University. In his recent blog for the NCVO, Alex Van Vliet summarises the conclusions of the research brilliantly, noting that the findings show that small and medium-sized charities are set apart from larger organisations in three ways:
- A distinctive service offer: playing a critical role in addressing disadvantage and social issues in their local communities, both directly and by plugging gaps in public services.
- A distinctive approach: reaching early and staying longer in their support, an embedded, trusted and long-term presence within communities. Their flat hierarchies means they can stay agile and respond quickly.
- A distinctive position: smaller charities have extensive local networks and relationships, reaching within and between communities. They play a stabilising role at a local level, frequently described as the ‘glue’ that holds services, other charities and providers and communities together.
The Lloyds Bank Foundation and the researchers call for national and local action to protect, promote and develop smaller charities to sustain their distinctiveness including:
- Action on funding so that smaller charities get a bigger share of the funding pot.
- Action on social value so that smaller charities get real benefit from consistent and effective implementation of the Social Value Act 2010.
- Action to sustain healthy local ecosystems to protect the role of smaller charities for the long term.
And we say "here, here" to that.
We are delighted that this research shows what many of us have known instinctively for years and we thought we should share it to help celebrate the amazing work that our clients and thousands of other smaller charities do every single day. Thank you to every one of you!
If you'd like to know more about how we can help smaller charities achieve even more for their communities and beneficiaries please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free initial telephone conversation.