“It’s like the Wild West out there. You have strangers riding into town promising the world.”
So said one of the delegates at a recent Cranfield Trust master class on business planning for charities. He was referring to the fact that charities are now having to compete against price-cutting commercial sector service providers for social welfare service contracts with local government. Charities need to find their niches and specialisms, and to be business like to compete with commercial providers – and with each other.
The income of UK charities stands at over £63bn per annum, shared between 155,000 charities. At first glance this seems a lot - and all must be well, but not quite. 92% of these charities have incomes under £5m and together receive only one third of the £63bn.
This underfunded and overstretched majority are struggling for survival as they travel across the parched prairies and deserts. The loud and clear message from the Office for Civil Society is “We want to help – but there is no money”. The plan, so far, is to launch a campaign asking the world of business to support small and medium charities.
North East Responsible Business Conference
The first North East Responsible Business Conference, organised by bodies which support charities in the region, and hosted by Muckle LLP, debated how businesses can help to ensure the future of small and medium charities that provide critical services to the community. It considered how commercial sector skills could be brought in to help charity managers develop more businesslike approaches, weathering the tough economic climate.
Could help? We think so.
We heard that one in three children in Newcastle live in poverty, that funding to the NE has been reduced by 53% but demand for welfare services has increased by 71%.
Research from Northumbria University’s Newcastle Business School emphasised the need to embed Corporate Responsibility into the core of business strategy, not to ‘add it on’. The weight of moral values is highly influential and more critically morality had to be nurtured from childhood to ensure that social conscience is sustained within each new generation of business leaders. The event was a loud and powerful call for help.
We are keen to engage with professional business consultants and corporations around the country to create links to encourage genuine business and charity collaboration within your communities.
If you are interested in finding out more and maybe getting involved, we would love to hear from you.