Taken for granted? The needs of small voluntary and community organisations in a big society era
This report examines the ways in which small voluntary and community sector organisations utilise and receive funding, and recommends steps to ensure that the 'big society' agenda neither passes these organisations by, nor squeezes them out of their vital community functions.
As the government rolls out its programme for the 'big society' and interest turns towards the balance of responsibility between the state and society, small voluntary and community organisations have a particularly crucial role to play. However, due to their size they lack voice in national and voluntary sector debates.
The report highlights the need for more flexible approaches to funding to help sustain these organisations. It recommends:
- Intelligent grants: Local authorities should think more creatively about how they can use and target their grants to small voluntary and community organisations to support them at key turning points, and they should consider bolstering endowment funds.
- Access to microfinance: microfinance products should be designed specifically for VCS organisations, and if the government should consider allocating capital through Big Society Capital to ensure that it meets its targets for 25 per cent of contracts to be delivered by small organisations.
- Supporting organisations at key turning points: Support organisations should promote awareness of microfinance and funding opportunities available to small organisations in their area, with funding from central government.
- Intelligent commissioning: The government should act upon the recommendations of the Mutuals Taskforce. In addition, an awareness-raising campaign is essential to the success of the Social Value Act 2012.