Charity finance policy

Local infrastructure needs more support if it is going to meet needs of small charities, finds CFG report

As part of its Small Charities Programme, funded by Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Charity Finance Group has released a report on the state of small charity accountancy and support service providers such as community accountants and Councils for Voluntary Services.

The report based on a survey of providers and CFG’s experience in delivery of the Small Charities Programme has noted a number of challenges facing providers including:

• A lack of capacity within providers as they are mostly small organisations themselves which have faced cuts in funding

• A challenge in building avenues for communication about the services available to small charities

• A lack of resources to help small providers keep on top of developments in complex financial areas such as tax

The report finds that weakest areas of provision of accountancy and support services are in the Midlands, South East and London whereas the strongest area of provision appears to be Yorkshire and Humber

The report highlights a number of areas where improvements could be made to help support providers:

• Skills-based volunteering – and whether this can increase capacity to help providers reach more charities

• Building relationships between providers and the private sector – so that best practice can be shared and providers kept on top of latest developments in the sector

• Providing more resources to help providers grapple with charity tax issues – where capacity is limited but there is demand for support from small charities

• Digital support – templates and guides are effective ways of reducing the costs of delivering support for providers to small charities

• Building channels to communication with small charities – particularly through digital channels such as websites and newsletters/bulletins, giving providers much easier access to market and encouraging investment

• Social investors should consider investing in these capacity building organisations – recognising the impact that they achieve, but also understanding that it will take time to build successful business models

The report also says that national bodies can do more to meet the needs of these support providers, particularly in fostering collaboration and ensuring that strong networks are developed. Charity Finance Group hopes to take the lessons learnt from this report forward in its future work with small charities.

View the full report here.

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