Our Policy and National Programmes Manager Caroline Howe writes on how small charities are doing great work campaigning and influencing in their communities.
If we asked you what campaigning work you do, we’d guess that many small charities would answer: ‘we don’t’.
Too often campaigning is only seen through a narrow lens – limited to lobbying in Westminster, or big public-facing campaigns. Campaigning as we understand it at the Foundation is about much broader influencing.
You might not all be marching on Whitehall, but many charities like yours are chipping away at systems that affect you and your clients, changing processes and opinions.
In short, small charities are campaigning every day; they just might not call it that.
We know this because many of you reference the amazing things you’re doing to make a difference in your monitoring reports. Here are five examples of great campaigning and influencing we’ve heard about from small charities we fund:
- One of our grant-holders flagged at their Local Authority’s Homeless Strategy meeting that young people would be badly affected by changes to housing benefits. Following this, several new developments have been planned in the area including some small shared accommodation units to help young people.
- Another grant-holder benefit understand is working with a local Citizen’s Advice Bureau to educate staff in local assessment organisations about learning disabilities to help ensure clients receive the right level of benefits.
- Some are taking advantage of the growing interest in their cause. Political and media interest in modern slavery means more people are willing to listen. One of our grant-holders is using their knowledge and experience to influence academic research and to build relationships with Government to help shape their plans to tackle modern slavery. Responding to consultations has been one way to share their ideas.
- Others are building stronger links with their local authority as a way of responding to growing demand for their services. They’re working with the local authority on the frontline and strategically to raise issues and look for solutions.
- A number of grant holders are helping local councillors and MPs to understand how they support local people and communities too. They’re sharing impact assessments and inviting them to events to raise awareness and build relationships – because you never know when you might need to call on their support.
There are many more examples at different levels and they’re all important. At the Foundation we’re committed to helping charities raise their voice in campaigning and influencing. We want to be by your side and say things you can’t. But we also want to support you to say things you can and change things outside of your organisation because we know you have the answers. And because we know that tackling multiple disadvantage needs the actions of more than individual organisations, no matter how good they are.
We really want to hear from charities about how you’ve influenced others – be that referral pathways, other services, commissioners, local authorities or regional or national government for example.
We want to use your experiences to shape how we can support you and others to do more. How did you bring about change? What did you learn? And what would help you do more of this work and better?