OPINION: Small charities make huge differences - Karen Weaver, Harrogate and District Community Action

There are around a thousand charities and voluntary organisations across the Harrogate District and their roles are many and 

Thursday, 10th June 2021, 4:29 pm

A search on the Charity Commission website brings up many familiar names but also include some curious entries registered in our district. For example the ‘Lady Elizabeth Hastings for Widows of Vicars’ was founded in 1734 “to provide assistance to widows of Vicars Of Ledsham” in Cheshire and has an annual income of £1,197. This entry alone suggests that caution is needed in using the Charity Commission database to find out about charities in our area. However what is certain is that, in line with the rest of England, the vast proportion of our charities are small.

The Small Charities Coalition defines small charities as those with an annual income under £1m and estimates that they make up 97 per cent of all charities. Research by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations shows that 82 per cent of all charities have an income of less than £100,000.

Their data also shows that most of the small organisations (79 per cent) work in their local area rather than on a national or international level. They also cover a diverse range of activities. As with larger charities, the biggest number work in social services (25,500), and culture and recreation (19,700).

However, they also make up more than 94 per cent of all Parent Teacher Associations, village halls and Scout groups.

Whatever the size of a charity there are really only two things they need to achieve their purpose; volunteers and cash. This month I’m happy to highlight forthcoming opportunities to boost both.

Last week was the annual Volunteers Week and provided the opportunity to launch this year’s Celebration of Volunteering in the District. Organiser John Fox is inviting any voluntary and community groups in the Harrogate District who are celebrating a special anniversary to email a photograph of their volunteers in action together with a few words explaining the aims of the group.

Please send entries to [email protected] by July 1 to feature in this year’s Volunteer Oscars event, which has been pencilled in for Friday, October 29.

Next week is Small Charities Week, bringing together a series of activities and initiatives to support and raise awareness of the small charities that make a huge difference to vulnerable communities right across the UK and beyond. We’ll be taking part via social media to make sure our fantastic small local charities know they are appreciated for all their hard work and the contributions their volunteers make.

The Local Fund for the Harrogate District was launched three years ago to enable local groups to apply for small grants via a straightforward local grants programme. The fund has given out 52 grants totalling £149,977 in the first three years. Initial support came from Harrogate Borough Council and the former Harry Bolland Trust and now local businesses and individual donors are coming on board as they can see that their support is going directly into our local charities and community groups.

The fund is currently open for applications from organisations with an income of under £500,000, for grants of up to £3,000. The closing date is June 21, with more info via https://www.tworidingscf.org.uk/fund/tlfharrogate/,

Finally for this month, if you’d like to find out more about our fantastic voluntary and community sector and HADCA’s work across the District you’d be most welcome at our next online HADCA Intro Session between 11am-noon on Wednesday, June 23. For more details and to book your place visit https://hadca.org.uk/news/hadca-introduction-sessions.