Charity: Keeping it local

Ken Young profile image

Ken Young, Partner

Ken is Managing Partner of Wilkins Kennedy's Guildford office. He joined the company in 2007 and has over twenty years’ experience in the accountancy sector.

Oct. 3, 2018

Everyone has a charity close to their hearts. It can be for personal reasons, or, people can choose to support charities they believe have an extra special cause. Whatever the reason, charity funding is extremely important in keeping these organisations opening. But, as we found out at one of our recent Charities Seminars, this is easier said than done.

The Wilkins Kennedy Charities Seminar series has been running since 2015. They are run regularly and seek to bring together charities and their stakeholders to network in an informal business environment. The seminars typically involve a couple of speakers, who discuss topics of relevance to the charities sector.

The most recent Charities Seminar focused on funding and we were lucky enough to be joined by two speakers from the Guildford Shakespeare Company and another from the Lloyds Bank Foundation.

The Guildford Shakespeare Company told us that 90% of their funding was earned and just 10% came from the Government. This earned funding came through ticket and programme sales, memberships, patrons and memberships.

However, they faced two constant challenges. There was the issue of the need for constant funding, of course, and how does a charity keep its fundraising ideas fresh? How do they keep engaging with their stakeholders on “new” levels, whilst keeping the same ethos and focus?

As well as maintaining constant fundraising, the Guildford Shakespeare Company also said they face a lot of scrutiny. Charities must be so transparent and must be accountable for how every penny is spent and for what cause. For them, in particular, in marketing themselves as an educational facility – one that seeks to reach out to younger age groups and educate them about Shakespeare – is something that works for them. Carrying that passion through to everything they do is at the very centre of their strategy – and it is that passion that keeps them open year after year.

The organisation faces another trial, however. As a local charity, they are often over looked by the larger organisations, which quite often have bigger pockets, bigger overheads and larger areas to cover. This can prove challenging in raising their profile enough to encourage more people to consider donating to their local charities.

There is a case in point. According to research carried out by the Lloyds Bank Foundation, the smaller charities, or SMCs, are vitally important to the charity sector and should be considered equally alongside their larger charity counterparts.

Lloyds’ research, “The Value of Small”, highlighted that SMCs account for 52% of all registered charities and 19% of all charitable income. Therefore, addressing the gap between sustaining local charities and the larger ones is more important now than ever.

Our speaker from Lloyds Bank Foundation, Alex Van Vliet, talked through the distinctions and value these local charities need to highlight in order to compete. The very purpose of the Value of Small research was to identify this distinctive contribution and the value SMCs have to the economy. This “distinctiveness” focuses on the key features that make a charity an SMC and in what ways these are important to people and ecosystem in which their charity operates.

These distinctions could be things like, they are first responders to newly emerging needs at a hyper-local level. Maybe they create spaces where people feel safe or even promote inclusion and belonging. They could simply provide access to services or establish links to wider communities or networks of support. Whatever it is, charities should draw those distinctions and both communicate and demonstrate what it is they do to address those distinctions and carry out their duties as a charity.

Local charities have the benefit of making a smaller amount go a long way. Wilkins Kennedy Guildford’s chosen charity is a local charity called the halow project. We can see how a sum, such as £100,000 can build and improve facilities for children with learning disabilities, and make a real difference to them and their families. Through economies of scale, it is simply not the same for larger charitable organisations, which can easily get through the same amount but not have the same affect.

If you choose to support a charity, then it should be the right charity for you. However, if you are still choosing a charity, please do consider keeping it local.

If you run a charitable organisation and you would like some further advice relating to funding, you can contact the Lloyds Bank Foundation, which has regional branches operating throughout England in the UK.

For any tax advice, business planning and other accountancy services, or if you are interested in attending one of our future Charities Seminars, contact Wilkins Kennedy’s Guildford office.


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