According to the Charity Commission report “More than just a Number: Themes and trends in charity registrations” there are around 160,000 registered charities and just over 3000 joined the register between between 1 April and 30 September 2011. A 3000 increase seems a lot, but since 3,192 charities were removed from the register in the same period mainly due to ceasing operations in some way, numerically, not much has changed.
However, it is still surprising that, despite the current recession and spending cuts, 3000 organisations chose to register themselves as charities, seeing that they will need to find enough funding for their work.
According to the Charity Commission, of those newly registered charities who responded to their survey question on funding:
● 97% felt generally confident of funding their work now and in the future
● 50% were very confident of finding enough funding and
● 47% were quite confident
(2% of respondents were not very confident of finding funding; they may be in for a long haul as fundraising is no place for the feint-hearted.)
And where will this expected funding come from? In order of popularity these were:
● Donations and legacies
● Grants from charitable trusts and foundations
● Generating income from membership fees and subscriptions
● Public sector grants
● Public sector contract delivery.
Trustees of these newly registered charities were also asked about their priorities for the organisation which were:
● Fundraising 38%
● Charity Law and Regulations 21%
● Business Development 15%
Not surprisingly, fundraising is the top priority. Whilst trustees are confident about funding their organisation’s future funding, they quite obviously realise that these expected funds won’t materialise without serious fundraising effort.
There will be a need for trustee training if these organisations are to meet the standards they set for themselves plus those that are legally required. But training costs are frequently an expense that start-ups, both charitable and business, are reluctant or unable to spend money on.
When I worked in the voluntary sector, an alternative to paid-for training was holding a trustees forum on a particular topic, in this case fundraising, where everyone present could exchange ideas. It was a very successful event with many practical ideas put forward by forum members.
Do we need so many charities? I think we do. But more importantly, I don’t think that so many talented and committed people would become unpaid trustees of charities (which are effectively small businesses) if they didn’t believe there was a genuine need for their charitable work.
This is the link to the full Charity Commission report