Something for Something

Written by Ryan Boyce – Development Manager

Charities and voluntary organisations across the country are experiencing some of the largest increases in service demands, at a time when more than 60 per cent of small charities say that their top concern is achieving financial sustainability and generating more income!

A recent study published by the Charitable Aid Foundation1 reported that “demand for services has increased for four out of five organisations in the last year, and this is only expected to get worse. A further 85 per cent expect demand for services to increase in the next 12 months but worryingly just one in seven CEOs feel completely confident that they will be able to manage the increase.”

Bridging the gap between big businesses, big government and big public sector departments as an A-route into communities means that much of the voluntary sector has evolved to become ultra-professional in its approach, providing commercially driven services in the hope that this will generate sufficient financial resources, and that’s just to survive.

Charities have been in existence for hundreds of years in the UK, in fact one of the first charities according to public records was established by William the Conqueror’s grandson more than 900 years ago!  Traditionally set up to ‘fill the gap’ in services that the public and private sector didn’t provide, this aim still remains the same today, but the way charities operate has changed significantly.  With funding cuts coupled with ever increasing demands on their services charities have had to become more sophisticated and professional in their approach.

Recently, I visited a charity pressing hard at the coalface of disadvantage and dismantling deprivation and despair. SIFA Fireside, in Birmingham, has for many years been supporting people who sleep rough, providing them with a place to get shelter, receive help and access support services. When I visited their centre in Digbeth, I was reminded just what it takes to help a homeless person get a better life, make a fresh start, see hope and break habits. It’s not easy, and it’s not fast.

I was fortunate enough to be visiting them because the Foundation decided to provide £5,000 towards their core services for the next 12 months. What a winner! Off the back of our Surviving Winter Appeal we have been fortunate enough to support SIFA Fireside and in turn, help hundreds of homeless people who rely on the centre for a safe place to chill out and take a breather.

Life on the streets is a tough environment. The lure of drugs and alcohol is a big risk, and homeless people often face multiple barriers when trying to find help. Complex mental and physical health needs and the harsh winter weather probably makes staying alive feel like a chore for many. Hopefully our donation will make a small difference in turning some lives around.

So, what’s next? With small charities facing tougher times and funding becoming harder to reach, our Community Foundation wants to play a central role in supporting the local voluntary sector. We work with donors across the West Midlands to build a ‘something for something’ deal, generating much-needed grant investment in return for social impact and more prosperous, happy and active communities and citizens.

Our grants are the fuel keeping local, social action alight everywhere from Sandwell to Stratford.


1 Social Landscape 2017: The state of charities and social enterprises going into 2017