A new advisory panel launches today to champion continued support for small charities.
The Small Charities Advisory Panel will champion the voices and experiences of small charities and work to ensure that they can continue to access tailored help, support, and advocacy.
Its creation was a key element of the agreement last year to transfer services from the Small Charities Coalition (SCC), following its closure, to a partnership between the FSI and NCVO. The panel sits independently, and following the announcement that the FSI will close in Spring 2023, will have the responsibility of holding NCVO and any future partners to account for continuing the legacies of both the FSI and the SCC.
The Small Charities Advisory Panel comprises fourteen members, with representation from six small charities, two funders and six infrastructure organisations, including one with a focus on volunteering. It will meet quarterly, with the first full meeting to be held in May.
The panel will offer strategic insight to NCVO and other partners, to help them continue to meet and anticipate the need of smaller organisations in the voluntary sector. The group will also have a role in engaging other infrastructure partners and organisations across the voluntary sector.
Recruitment for the panel took place be through an open process between summer 2022 and early 2023. Following expressions of interest from panel members, the panel agreed to appoint two co- chairs, Ray Coyle, Director of Oxford Hub, and Vicki Beevers, CEO of The Sleep Charity. Biographies of the co-chairs and other panel members can be found on the panel’s webpage.
Beevers, co-chair of the Small Charities Advisory Panel, commented:
“The panel will have a vital role in engaging other infrastructure partners and organisations across the small charity sector at a national level. We will work hard to widen the offering for small charities, advocating for these organisations that play an increasingly important role in our society. There has never been a greater need for the support many of these organisations offer.”
How the panel will work
Panel members will:
Share and explore insights and emerging trends, including identifying gaps in support for small charities and seeking ways to fill these.
Advise and guide NCVO and other partners on working towards a cross sector, joined up approach to small charity support.
Share expertise to improve the practical support offering from NCVO and other partners.
Make recommendations to NCVO and partners so needs of small charities are met.
Bring the lived experience of small charities and best practice of small charity infrastructure support to guide the strategic direction of support for small charities.
Actively engage and represent small charities in appropriate forums and discussions, including being the ‘voice’ of small charities with a seat at the table in policy making forums.
Hold NCVO and partners accountable to ensure the voice of small charities is heard at all levels.
Review, and challenge where appropriate, the decisions and/or direction of the small charity support deliver by NCVO and partners.
Scrutinise NCVO and partners’ proposals to further improve the support and guidance offered to small charities.
Share information about other small charity initiatives and support across the sector to ensure a comprehensive, responsive and coherent offer to small charities.
The panel’s work will uphold the following four principles, taken from the Small and Mighty report on the legacy of the SCC: If you support or fund small charities, say so upfront; Take time to understand and tune into the reality of being a small charity; Build trust by creating space for relationships; and Think small, advocate ambitiously.
Sarah Vibert, CEO of NCVO, said:
“I am delighted that the members of the Small Charities Advisory Panel bring such a breadth and depth of experience from across the voluntary organisations. Our ambition in setting up the panel has always been to fill the gap left by the Small Charities Coalition in providing a distinct voice for small charities. We will work hard to ensure they have a seat at the table in decision-making forums. The panel will also provide specialist insight to NCVO and our partners. They will help shape our collective offer for small charities, ensuring support is comprehensive, easy to find and tailored to the needs of small organisations. The overwhelming majority of our members are small charities and they will benefit from the knowledge and insight the panel can provide. I look forward to working closely with the panel to build on the legacies of the FSI and SCC.”
Dr Noorzaman Rashid, chair of the FSI, and one of the panel members, commented:
“I am pleased to join the Small Charities Advisory Panel. Although we have taken the difficult decision to close the FSI, we hope our legacy is that the needs of small charities are permanently at the top of the sector’s agenda. I welcome the chance to work with other panel members to ensure this is the case and to help drive the delivery of small charity support committed to as part of the FSI and NCVO partnership.”