A new study in to the vital contribution made by 43,000 small and medium-sized charities is being led by Sheffield Hallam University.
Commissioned by Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, the research will study in-depth the social and economic role of the charities at local level.
Many of the charities provide services to people facing multiple and complex disadvantage, including homeless people, victims of domestic abuse and people battling substance misuse. Their value will be identified in detail.
Small charities are seeing rising demand for their service, yet are facing unprecedented funding pressures, due to cuts and complex and inappropriate contracting and commissioning processes for public service delivery.
Key questions will include understanding the role small and medium-sized charities play in tackling disadvantage, directly and in partnership with other local service providers, analysing their distinctive features in comparison to large charities, examining their value for money and wider social value, and looking at the most effective ways of funding them.
CRESR will work with the Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership at the Open University Business School, the Institute for Voluntary Action Research, and Sheffield Business School (part of Sheffield Hallam University), to deliver the study, which will be published early next year.
Chris Dayson, senior research fellow at CRESR and lead for the study, said: “Small local charities play a vital role supporting some of the most disadvantaged people in society and increasingly have to fill large gaps in provision created by the deep and ongoing cuts to public services. But there is concern that their work is under-valued and poorly understood, particularly in relation to larger charities that have been much more successful at winning public service contracts to support key client groups.
“This research aims to fill a large gap in the evidence base about what it is that makes small local charities distinct and identify the value they create for their clients, communities and public sector bodies.”
Paul Streets, Chief Executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales said: “Many small and local charities are struggling to survive due to unprecedented funding pressures and rising, more complex demand for their services. People who have their lives changed as a result of local charities know how indispensable they are, but many others don’t.
“With complex political and policy change ahead, it’s more important than ever that we are able to provide robust evidence to answer the question of why small charities are so important - not just for individuals and communities, but the taxpayer too, and to help make a clear and compelling case for why they must be supported.”