We all know that small and medium charities (SMCs) are incredibly valuable to local communities, but how can we use the idea of social value to explain why they are so important to fund, support and invest in? Using the findings from Lloyds Bank Foundations ‘Value of Small’ report (2018), let’s talk about why small charities like Nottingham Counselling Service are worth supporting!

Local knowledge

SMCs are embedded in local communities and have an intimate knowledge and understanding of local people’s assets and needs. Established over forty years ago in 1977, Nottingham Counselling Service has roots in Nottingham reaching back as far as 1875, when we existed as the Charity Organisation Society. As a result, we have been able to build and nurture longstanding social networks, and are well aware of the specific challenges and needs of this particular community. We provide a safe space in the community for both clients and volunteers to feel valued and welcomed.

Greater flexibility

As a small charity with a relatively small team of staff, volunteers and trustees who take on multiple roles within the organisation, we are able to provide greater flexibility and be responsive to the needs of our clients. Placing our emphasis on general wellbeing in the local community, as opposed to a large charity or public sector service tackling a particular issue, we will not turn people away or ignore aspects of their needs if they do not fit into the specific services we provide. As a result, we are able to work in a more person-centred and holistic way, engaging with groups which other agencies or public sector services may fail to reach or listen to. We can also provide longer-term support than what may be provided by the public sector.

Social Value

SMCs such as Nottingham Counselling Service are valuable to the community and to society as a whole on a number of levels. Primarily, we create individual value, enabling our clients and volunteers to achieve personal, social and emotional outcomes – particularly as a result of the long-term engagement that we are able to provide. There is also a key economic value in the form of a local multiplier effect – by investing into a small charity, you are effectively adding value into the local community as many SMCs will reinvest their income locally through services and activities that employ local people and utilise local supply chains – adding value to the local economy. In another sense, there is an economic value to our outcomes, improving the wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem of both our clients and our volunteers – supporting people to become productive and ‘work-ready’.

Despite all this, more than 80 percent of local public sector funding to charities is received by large organisations, with SMCs far more likely to be adversely affected by cuts to public budgets, facing higher income volatility than larger charities.

Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales partners with small and local charities who help people overcome complex social issues. Through long-term funding, developmental support and influencing policy and practice, the Foundation helps those charities make life-changing impact. The foundation is an independent charitable trust funded by the profits of Lloyds Banking Group as part of their commitment to Helping Britain Prosper.