Package of grant and strategic support launched for small charities facing a ‘Scissors Effect’

Posted 30 Nov 2020 | Our News | Weston Charity Awards

In partnership with the Garfield Weston Foundation today we are launching a call for applications for the 2021 Weston Charity Awards, alongside new research showing the extreme pressures currently faced by small charities

The awards will give 20 small charities* a package of strategic leadership support from Pilotlight and a £6,500 unrestricted grant. Charities have until 8th January to apply.

Philippa Charles, Director, Garfield Weston Foundation said:

We appreciate the challenges involved in running day-to day activities and supporting beneficiaries while still keeping on top of longer-term planning as this is a tricky balance to achieve. We encourage small charity leaders to consider how they might benefit from this unrivalled package of leadership coaching and funding.

Alongside the opening of applications, Pilotlight has published the 2020 Small Charity Leaders Insight Report: the Scissors Effect. Based on a survey of more than 250 leaders of charities with annual incomes under £5m**, the report highlights the growing challenges these charities are likely to face in 2021, and the need for their leaders to consider accessing external support in order to meet those demands.

The ‘Scissors Effect’ which gives the report its title refers to small charities experiencing rising demand and falling income - 89% of small charity leaders predict that service user numbers will rise or keep pace with this year, while a similarly high proportion (78%) project that their income will either drop or at best remain stable.

Specific challenges small charity leaders are likely to face in 2021, which may lead them to consider entering the awards, include:

  • Just 7% of charity leaders say they are 'always' able to give themselves enough development opportunities - and only 19% say they are always able to provide this for their staff.
  • The majority (59%) of respondent charities had to dip into their reserves this year. Of the rest, 35% did not need or want to, while 6% simply didn’t have any reserves to start with.
  • 21% of respondents have started or will start developing a diversity, equality and inclusion plan, prompted by events following the death of George Floyd. 20% are reviewing existing plans.
  • Four in five (78%) of charities see an opportunity to better demonstrate their impact next year.
  • 84% of small charities cite increased competition for funding as a major challenge for 2021.
  • Two in three small charity leaders are concerned about levels of stress and poor mental wellbeing in their workforce, making it their most pressing personnel consideration.
  • However, fewer chairs are as conscious of this issue - just 17% ask about CEOs’ mental health.

Ed Mayo, Chief Executive of Pilotlight, says:

What makes the Scissors Effect so concerning is that 2021 comes after a year which has already drained income, reserves and capacity across so many small charities. The toll is evident in our finding that mental health is the number one concern at work for small charity leaders.

Even so, the charity sector is resilient, more so than it sometimes gets credit for, and we want to pay tribute to the long hours, resourcefulness, tireless service and enduring hope that we see in so many small charity leaders. The Weston Charity Awards offer a precious form of strategic support for these leaders, something that could be invaluable in these tough times.

Danny Kruger MP, author of a recent policy report on the sector for the Prime Minister, says:

It is great to have this research. Small charities play a vital role in creating a more human-scale society.

Eligible charities can enter the awards between now and 8th January.

* Entrants must: be registered charities working in the fields of Welfare, Youth or Community; have at least one paid full-time member of staff in a leadership position; have annual income of less than £5m; provide direct services to beneficiaries; have the majority of activity or beneficiaries in the Midlands, North of England or Wales.

** 70% of leaders were from charities with an income below £500,000, and 20% from charities with £500,000-£1m