9 ways small charities improve society
The UK’s small charity sector has been in the spotlight this summer. The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in North Kensington, where 80 people reportedly lost their lives, saw the ‘mass mobilisation’ of volunteers who came to the aid of the local community. Sadly, the disaster exposed a fault line between the community and local authorities, after Kensington and Chelsea council were widely criticised for its failure to coordinate the relief effort. The fire at Grenfell Tower had coincided with Small Charity Week that took place from the 19th – 24th of June. The annual event aims to raise awareness of the work of small charities and their invaluable contributions to the lives of millions of individuals, communities and causes across the world. At West Euston Partnership we believe that it’s important to acknowledge the vital role of small charities of reaching the places and people when local authorities often can’t.
Here are 9 positive ways that small charities are contributing to society
1. Providing a space for cooperation
The customs and values of a community are embodied in small charities. We form organic entities at the very heart of our communities to ensure social life is manageable and the benefits of being part of society are spread more evenly throughout.
2. Working to unite ethnically diverse groups
Small charities lead the way on equality and social justice. In 1992 West Euston Partnership was set up by local people to overcome problems of racial tension and poverty that kept the community divided. The community enterprise united people from different backgrounds around common cause, making West Euston’s diversity its strength.
3. Promoting partnerships based on mutual trust
Small charities have a special ability for collaborating with partners across widely varying sectors. Because we need to be resourceful, we can set an example of how public sector agencies and companies can work with the community to solve problems beyond the calculus of pure exchange. Companies often want to partner with us because we offer a new way of making a positive impact in society.
4. Helping you to have a voice
Advocating on behalf of constituents is an important way that we can give a voice to groups and individuals, by listening to your concerns, providing information to help you make informed decisions and putting you in contact with relevant support networks.
5. Providing exciting career choices
The private and public sectors often include roles that leave employees feeling like just another cog in the wheel. Alternatively, careers in the voluntary sector are highly motivating and can make you want to get out of bed in the morning to make that difference!
5. Providing a valuable ‘route in’ to the graduate job market
It is a myth that charity work is uncompetitive for skills. There is a huge demand for graduate talent in the voluntary sector, precisely because there is such a wide scope for innovation and improvement. Kathryn Dingle, charity worker, writes ‘in a small charity you often have to wear multiple hats, one minute you need to be a web developer and the next a social media guru or a source of reassurance for your beneficiaries. Volunteering is not only morally rewarding but provides a deeply involved learning experience.
6. Increasing the opportunities for friendship and meaning in peoples’ lives
Small charities combat isolation and loneliness by running social activities and projects that promote wellbeing in the community. This is particularly salient for improving the quality of life of elderly people and newcomers to an area. Charities give people a reason to leave the house, be useful in some way and interact with other people in their community.
7. Nourishing the quality of national life
Last year, Small Charity Week got underway with a nationwide poll of 2000 people, which revealed just how much Britain loves local charities and community spirit. The survey revealed that 48 per cent give to street fundraisers, 36 per cent attend charity events, 28 per cent donate online and 76 per cent buy goods from charity shops. We can be assured that Britain is a generous nation that embraces the concept of ‘giving back’.
8. Donating money is good for wellbeing!
Scientists are discovering that when we make a donation to a worthy cause, the area of our brain lights up that is responsible for our pleasure cravings for chocolate, sex and rewards, showing the link between charitable giving and pleasure. The idea that human nature is ‘hard wired for giving’ runs counter to the hard-nosed wisdom of the business world that humans are fundamentally selfish.
9. Fighting inequality
Businesses often have a bad impact on communities. This is particularly true in cities where property developers and companies move in to a neighbourhood and push local residents out with expensive regeneration projects. Small charities stand at the front line of a community’s resistance and work to heal local divisions, and reduce the levels of deprivation caused by gentrification.