Posted by: alexswallow | December 4, 2013

5 amazing years for the Small Charities Coalition

Anniversary Graphic (1)

Graphic by Wilson Sanchez for the Small Charities Coalition

I’m very proud to be the Chief Executive of the Small Charities Coalition as we celebrate our 5th Anniversary. So much has happened on our journey so far.

We’ve grown from the germ of an idea that small charities needed and deserved more support and guidance, into an organization with more than 6000 members. From early conversations and plans into a thriving charity that enters the debate at a national level while remaining close to the small charities that we try to help.

Along with others in the sector, we’ve helped to start making the contribution of small charities better recognized. It feels like the agenda has moved to us significantly. With the current emphasis on the local, the personal and the low cost, more people are interested in small charities than ever before. A stat that I keep trying to drum home is that smaller charities according to our definition make up 97% of the registered charity sector and of course there are many more tiny, unregistered organizations  (which we support too).

We’re proud that we’ve always kept our membership free. Many small charities are asked to spend money they don’t have on so many things. Not only do we directly work with partners to get prices down for small charities but we make the constant, public plea that small charities simply can’t cope with the cost burden of bigger ones. We’re proud that our members know that we are there for them. Whether they speak to us on the phone via our helpline, receive our monthly Bulletin, are matched via us to one of our skilled supporters or signposted to one of our partners, we always do our best to be accessible, useful and relevant.

A couple of years ago we merged with Charity Trustee Networks and governance issues remain at the heart of what we do. We recognize that a strong Board is especially critical for smaller charities that may have no alternative sources of support. To that end we coordinate Trustee Networks, have a free service to find Trustees, run Trustee speed-recruitment sessions, and participate in a number of national initiatives, including being a partner for Trustees’ Week each November.

There are so many people and organisations I’d like to thank who have helped us on our journey thus far. To our funders, especially those who supported us in the early days and who continue to recognize the value of our work, thank you so much. To our amazing volunteers, from those who support us in our small office to those who work with us remotely to those who help small charities via our key skills-matching service, thank you so much. To our Trustees who give so freely of your time and whose amazing work greatly enhances our good name, thank you so much. To all of our partners, whether corporate (with a special thank you to IBM for supporting our anniversary event!), in our sector, or in others, thank you so much. Most of all, thank you so much to  small charities and those who support them who do so much good for so many and who are the reason we exist.

Plus, to mention a few individuals- Patrick Cox, our first Chief Executive who had the initial idea and filled it with his vision and creativity. Cath Lee, our second Chief Executive who took us so many steps along our journey and who handed a great organization over to me. Debra Allcock Tyler, our Founding Chair and current Trustee, who was there from the very beginning and who has helped us to punch above our weight. Simon Hebditch, our current Chair who is helping to oversee our next steps and bring new blood onto our Board. Finally I’d like to give a special mention to John Barrett, our Operations Manager and in my eyes and in many eyes ‘Mr SCC’. No-one has put more hours into or shown more dedication to this organization and no-one deserves higher praise.

So, what does the future hold for us? Firstly, we believe that small charities need support and deserve a voice now more than ever. We don’t formally represent small charities but we do our best to represent their views and concerns and we will continue to do so by speaking common sense to power. Secondly, we want to continue to develop as a sustainable, practical and thoughtful organization that is open to new ideas and new ways of working and which will be here as long as small charities need us. Finally, we want to increase our reach by continuing to be a collaborative charity, that highlights best practice, champions those who do good work, and contributes to a thriving, high-impact sector.

Thanks for walking with us on our journey so far and we look forward to taking the next steps with you too.



  1. Happy Anniversary Alex and keep up the great work!


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