Carys Mair Thomas: What’s on My Wish List for Charities in 2019

Carys Mair Thomas is a consultant specialising in marketing and communications, who shares her expertise with many of our grantees through our Enhance Programme. In this blog she shares what’s on her wish list for the third sector in 2019. 

Carys Mair Thomas
Carys Mair Thomas

2018 has been a challenging and tumultuous year for the sector. In truth, it’s been that way for the past decade, if not longer, but certainly since the 2007-2008 global financial crisis. It’s obviously resulted in less money, but also extraordinary social disruption, including the rise in far-right politics, here in the UK, in Europe and across the world.

Unsurprisingly, Brexit – and all the uncertainty wrapped up in that particular gift – is something I would like to return to sender, unopened. Obviously, having not yet left the EU, we’re waiting to experience its full force, but in the past two and a half years we’ve contended with a plummeting pound and spikes in hate crime.

We need to start an honest conversation, and ask the communities we serve what works, and what doesn’t.

The outlook is pretty bleak. And more so when you consider that a recent Civil Society Futures inquiry report, published in November, suggests we’re failing, as a sector, to respond appropriately to these social changes and are often disconnected from the communities we’re supposed to be serving. The Charity Commission also announced earlier this year that public trust in charities is now at its lowest ever.

So, first on my Christmas list is for all of us to resist falling into a pit of anxiety, reconnect with our grassroots, and find our fearlessness. I want my clients, mostly small charities in Wales and Ireland, to believe passionately in the advocacy and services they deliver, and to be as bold as they dare in the scrutiny of their own work.

But my greatest wish is for the sector to start speaking its mind. Too many of us tiptoe around issues affecting our beneficiaries, because we don’t want to be perceived as biting the hand that feeds us.

We need to start an honest conversation, and ask the communities we serve what works, and what doesn’t. This is not about sustaining the sector for its own sake, but for maintaining and hopefully growing the vital contributions it makes every day, so that we may ultimately persuade the public that we are worth their time and investment.

Finding our innate curiosity for the new and innovative is also on my Christmas list. For example, the sector’s funding is almost certainly going to be slashed, and it’s crucial we explore new ways of complementary income. Whether it’s cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, impact investment or crowdfunding, we need to explore them, if only to reject them.

We need to find our voice again, and the authentic voice of our communities. That would be the ultimate gift this Christmas.

But my greatest wish is for the sector to start speaking its mind. Too many of us tiptoe around issues affecting our beneficiaries, because we don’t want to be perceived as biting the hand that feeds us. Or we turn up for media opportunities, and allow beneficiaries’ stories to be devalued in the name of ‘balance’. I think it’s time we stop doing this to ourselves.

In short, we need to find our voice again, and the authentic voice of our communities. That would be the ultimate gift this Christmas.


How can you keep it local?

Keep it Local 2

To celebrate Local Charities Day Nick Plumb from Locality shares his Christmas wish list for 2019, why he’s hopeful that the future is bright for local charities, and how charities can encourage commissioners to Keep it Local.

As the festive period rolls in, at Locality, we’re putting the final decorations on our Keep it Local Christmas Tree. Horrendous metaphors aside, we’re working on a number of things in December in preparation for the next stage of our Keep it Local campaign in the new year. This is the campaign we’re working on alongside Lloyds Bank Foundation, which aims to turn the tide on large scale outsourcing. For services that transform lives.

Throughout 2018, through the Keep it Local Network we’ve been meeting councillors, commissioners and community organisations. We’ve heard about new and innovative approaches to commissioning which work collaboratively with the community and community organisations. And we’ve used these sessions to co-design and hone the principles which underpin a Keep it Local approach to public services.

These measures would ensure vital community organisations are able to play a much greater role in the public service landscape. They would enable these organisations to provide transformative services for the communities in which they operate, while reducing long-term pressure on the public sector and investing and reinvesting in the local economy.

The engagement we’ve done in 2018 has provided us with a sense that the tide is beginning to turn. There is a growing movement of local authorities who recognise the importance of doing things differently, who want to take a Keep it Local approach. We’ve seen it through examples like Leeds’s community based mental health service; Newcastle Council’s transparent approach to social value and Calderdale’s wide-ranging support for its community sector.

In the new year, we’ll be asking councils which want to Keep it Local to work with us to make it a reality. Top of our Christmas list this year is a hope that 2019 is the year councils decide to Keep it Local. That this growing coalition of councils inspire others to harness the power in their communities.

Join the Keep it Local Network here

In 2019, look to small charities

Small Charities Coalition Blog - Team pic (2)What’s on your Christmas wish list this year? Tessa Tyler-Todd from the Small Charities Coalition shares her hopes for small charities in 2019, and why policy organisations should keep small charities in mind when sharing their work.

Tessa Tyler Todd pic
Tessa Tyler-Todd

Small charities play a vital role in supporting communities across the UK and have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of beneficiaries’ needs. At the Small Charities Coalition, we represent over 9,000 small charities and provide them with support and also representation.

Although 97% of the sector are small charities, this is rarely reflected in conversations about the sector. We regularly see events, policies, processes and documents that are inaccessible for small charities. A priority for us in the year ahead, is to produce more policy documents specifically aimed at, and accessible for those small charities who are so often overlooked.

But for now we’d like to shine a light on the organisations who have designed materials specifically for small charities. All of these were well received by our members, showing the appetite out there for digestible policy-related content:

  • Lloyds Bank Foundation’s, Value of Small report – it was great to see a page of quick facts, stats and stories tailored for small charities following on from the research report on their value and distinctiveness.
  • The Charity Digital Code – we worked with Zoe Amar to design a number of small charity resources from the code. Zoe produced a quick video and Lightful designed a great infographic.
  • Cyber Security, Small Charity Guide – The National Cyber Security Centre produced a fantastic infographic explaining how small charities can protect themselves from cyber-attacks.

At the Small Charities Coalition, we understand what makes small charities tick. As shown in our Christmas Advert small charities work across a wide variety of issues and locations. We know that 91% of small charities are run by volunteers who, as well as keeping communities going, are trying to maintain their backroom operations and fundraising functions.

Small charities don’t always have time to read long policy documents or work out how and why a policy issue affects them. It’s our job, as a membership organisation to help make their lives easier and if we gather their opinions and present policy in an accessible way, small charities can focus on doing what they do best. Being part of the Small Charities Coalition gives them a louder voice so they can focus on the work that matters most to them.

If you’re a small charity and interested in becoming a member, you can join here.

Delivering for small charities – meet Kelly, our Programme Coordinator

In our latest blog, Programme Coordinator Kelly Parra-Alba talks about her role in the Service Delivery Team and shines a light on the engine that keeps our grantmaking running.

Kelly Parra Alba
Kelly Parra-Alba – Programme Co-ordinator

Whether it’s by phone or email the Service Delivery Team are the first interaction many people have with the Foundation and as a Programme Coordinator, there’s a good chance your first inquiry will come through to me. My role is a varied one which puts me on the front line dealing with initial inquiries from prospective grantees and Lloyds Banking Group colleagues. It gives me an opportunity to speak with charities everyday about the work they do, what their needs are and how we could support them through core cost funding or development support.

Everyday tasks range from approving Matched Giving claims for Bank colleagues raising money for great causes, commissioning development support for our grantees, completing initial assessments for grant applications and, just this week, the important task of decorating the office Christmas tree got thrown into the mix too.

hearing from charities who are working on the ground to helping people in need of support really brings it home how important our funding can be

Some of the best bits of the role are getting out there with our Grant Managers and visiting the charities we partner with. So far, the standout visit for me has been to an amazing London charity called Kalayaan, who support migrant domestic workers – some of which have been exploited, abused or even trafficked to the UK for domestic servitude. Meeting and hearing from charities who are working on the ground helping people in need of support really brings it home how important our funding can be but more significantly how indispensable small and local charities are.

Since I joined the Foundation at the start of the year – the Programme Coordinator role has changed and developed, much like the Foundation itself. Our new strategy Reaching Further re-states our role as a partner of the small and local charities we fund, standing with them as they help tackle complex social issues. There are now 11 issues that we fund and each of the Programme Coordinators has been designated two or three of them to take a lead on alongside our Grant Manager team. This means us having a more in-depth engagement with charities we fund under each issue to really understand how, as a Foundation, we can help them reach the people who need their support the most.  This will hopefully lead to shared learning internally and externally, help us to build on our partnerships with charities and feed into our National Policy work.

This year has been an exciting one for me at the Foundation, and with plenty more to do in the new year and Grant Manager shadowing, charity visits and internal and external discussions about how we can do more already planned, it looks like 2019 will be too.

Festive Fundraising? Shop online and it’s easier than you think!


Thinking about festive fundraising? As the Christmas season gets into full swing our Grant Manager for the North West, Ella Sips blogs on how, charities can make the most of this bumper shopping season with a simple solution to raising extra funds online.

My conversations with the charities we fund always includes the subject of fundraising. It is at the forefront of every charity CEO’s mind and can sometimes feel like painting the Forth Bridge; a never-ending task.

For most, fundraising is a necessity – something that must be done to continue delivering a charity’s much needed services. Small charities, more than most, recognise that having a variety of funding sources puts you on more secure ground, reducing the negative impact from funding cuts if (and when) they happen. But for CEOs and Fundraisers alike, the holy grail of fundraising is unrestricted funding – the money that allows you to do everything from developmental work, to running pilots, building up your reserves or even plugging the unavoidable budget deficits.

Raising money, the hard way

Someone once said, the best fundraising is when others do it for you. The success of sites like Just Giving and Virgin Money Giving are a testament to that. Whether having enthusiastic supporters packing bags in a supermarket or a friend or family member running a marathon in support of your charity, this type of fundraising significantly contributes to the sector’s unrestricted funds.

Festive fundraising? There’s an easier way.

But there are other, easier ways to launch a fundraising campaign for your charity that require very little effort if running a marathon (and the inevitable blisters that come with it) is not for you. I’m thinking online shopping here, and with Christmas around the corner, it’s a good time to think about how your charity can capitalise on the season of gift-giving. Most people do it, but we don’t all realise that our online activity can raise cash for charities without leaving the comfort of our chairs.

Armchair Fundraising

There are a growing number of platforms to choose from. Amazon Smile is a recent initiative, alongside the more established sites like Give As You Live, the Giving Machine and Easy Fundraising. It’s a no brainer really, as a customer you sign up and choose a charity to support. As a charity it’s free and easy way to generate a bit of extra income. Two extra clicks of the mouse before you start and by doing your shopping through affiliated websites every pound you spend gives a little back to a good cause. The benefit can be, on average, 2% of what you spend, and number can go even higher on certain things like holidays or insurance.

Do this in isolation and the returns will be low, but this is where people power comes in. If you invest a bit of time on social media spreading the word about your charity’s ask, the £35 raised in a year by one supporter becomes £350 by 10, and £3,500 by 100. Just think how much unrestricted income the 43.5 million digital shoppers in the UK could raise for charities!

So, as you and your supporters start thinking about stocking fillers for loved ones, and with online shopping more popular than ever, why not think a bit more about how two extra clicks could create a line in your next year’s budget?

It’s a gift that really does keep on giving!

Paul Streets: The local charities that reach ‘invisible’ people

Niche organisations matter – they embody ‘lived experience’, writes our CEO Paul Streets.

This blog was originally published in the November / December 2018 edition of Third Sector magazine.

As a sector we have quite rightly been challenged to demonstrate our connection to the lives of those we exist for.

Large organisations frequently set up complicated, sometimes expensive mechanisms to do this. And they often don’t work, becoming highly unrepresentative or tokenistic.

But for many small local organisations it’s part of their DNA. I recently visited two charities with our London grants manager that exemplify this, but which highlighted for me that it’s not as common practice as it should be.

The CSO team has plans to use a Lloyds Bank Foundation grant to meet the demand of service users. It will create employment and business support for recently arrived refugees, in a community with many talented entrepreneurs.

The Council of Somali Organisations is an umbrella body of more than 100, often small, Somali groups, mainly in London. It has only one full-time employee and four part-time staff. By contrast, the Latin American Women’s Rights Service is much longer established, with a team of 20-plus.

The CSO believes there are about 400,000 people in Britain who call themselves Somali, although no one knows for sure because the data lumps all “Africans” together.

And the LAWRS estimates there are about 250,000 Latin Americans in the UK.

But the factors that brought these migrant populations to the UK are different.

The CSO and the LAWRS illustrate why local niche charities matter: they embody “lived experience”, reaching people and places invisible to most of us.

Britain has a historical connection with Somalia, with sailors serving in the Navy in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the chaos of Somali civil war driving a more recent exodus. Many Latin Americans came here for economic reasons, yet sadly often occupy menial employment here, as cleaners or, more tragically, trafficked as sex workers.

Both charities are largely run, staffed and led by their communities, and it’s this that drives their ambition.

The CSO team has plans to use a Lloyds Bank Foundation grant to meet the demand of service users. It will create employment and business support for recently arrived refugees, in a community with many talented entrepreneurs.

Lucila Granada, director of the LAWRS, told me about the women she serves. Some were facing abuse from violent partners or severe domestic exploitation. She also spoke of people experiencing “honour-based violence”,”corrective rape” forced upon gay women, forced abortion or pregnancy. Intra-family rape is often unrecognised to “protect the family”.

Combined with the undocumented status of many of the victims, or the fact that their continued residency is sometimes dependent on EU nationals, you have a number of crimes that are often unspoken and rarely reported.

It’s why the LAWRS is running its Step up Migrant Women campaign. It is making headway in its influencing work with the London Victims Commissioner and the Mayor of London, bringing together about 30 local and national supporters, including Amnesty International and Liberty. But it has some way to go.

It’s hard enough to contemplate how domestic abuse victims cope, even with possible recourse through the law, and many of these people can’t even count on that. So it makes sense that you’d need a charity that speaks your language – literally and figuratively – to fill that gap.

The CSO and the LAWRS illustrate why local niche charities matter: they embody “lived experience”, reaching people and places invisible to most of us.

Ask a Grant Manager – November 2018

Marie Hale is our Grant Manager for South Central England.

Marie Hale – Grant Manager for South Central England

Marie joined Lloyds Bank Foundation in June 2018, having come to us from Trusthouse Charitable Foundation after a varied career as an Intensive Care and Spinal Injuries nurse,and as an accountant.

“My favourite thing about my job is providing developmental support to charities.  That’s why I came to Lloyds Bank Foundation, so I could have long term relationships with charities even after we finish funding them.”

When she is not working, Marie enjoys travelling, walking and spending time with her family.

Q: Would a grant application be more likely to succeed if governance could be independently assessed and verified against a recognised Code of Governance?

A: Because the charities we fund are small, we don’t want to burden them with additional expectations, so this isn’t a key part of our criteria. When we do our initial assessment of grant applications, what we look at are the needs in the local area, how the application addresses the complex social issues we fund, and at how holistic the support you provide is.

That said, we value good governance practice, and this is reviewed at the detailed assessment stage of our application process. We check charities are registered with the Charity Commission, follow the Charity Commission Code of Conduct, and that the charity has at least three trustees and a code of governance.

So, while having good governance is absolutely a good thing, and something we help our grantees with, we don’t require applicants to do more than meet their legal requirements.


Q: I was told on the phone in August that the criteria for core funding was changing. In our case we are a pan disabled advocacy organisation, including learning disabled. I was told this was being changed so a pan disabled organisation could apply. However, the criteria were not changed. Are there plans for this to change?

A: Thanks for your question. We updated our criteria in June, and this is available on our website.

For Invest – our core funding programme – 50% of your work needs to be specifically on a complex social issue we fund. In this case, 50% of your organisation’s work needs to be for people with learning disabilities.  So, while as a pan-disability organisation you can apply for our funding, you would need at least half of your work to be with people with learning disabilities.

With all that said, we know that life in a small charity isn’t that simple, so we recommend calling us on 0370 411 1223 and discussing the finer details with your local grant manager.

Have  a question you want to ask our Grant Managers? Submit your questions here.

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