Facing Forward: Lloyds Report on 10 Key Challenges for Charities

In 2017 the Lloyds Bank Foundation produced a ground breaking Report into the Future of the Third Sector. While focused on mainland Britain we were able to work with some local groups they had funded to input into the research. It highlighted a range of challenges but no sooner have we escaped the constant shadow of BREXIT than we find the sector caught in the Corona Virus Crisis.

We have used the Report amongst other research to shape our services. The reshaping of public services, growing divisions in society and how we fit into the next phase of technological development; these and many other factors, the Lloyds Bank Foundation advise, are things which are dramatically changing our landscape.

According to the Lloyds Bank Foundation, the departure from the European Union, an uncertain economy and overstretched local authorities are among the changes that are starting to affect the landscape for small charities.

“Facing Forward: How Small and Medium-Sized Charities can Adapt to Survive” is a report they have recently produced. In it, the Foundation detail 10 key challenges on the horizon for small charities and provide some solutions which charities could put in place to make sure they survive; which includes broadening their sources of funding.

Their report, published recently, also calls on the Government to actively seek the voices of small charities in forming policy, especially in terms of the effects of Brexit, and Lloyds say they would look to invest £100,000 into the Small Charities Coalition to help it represent small charities in policy discussions with the Government.

Among the 10 forthcoming challenges in the report, whether political, social or economic, Lloyds suggest are the effects of Brexit. This in itself could follow on to the loss of EU funding streams and European staff members.

The report also talks about concerns of political “slowdowns”: In the run-up to Brexit starting to take all political attention, this may make other issues harder to campaign on.

The report also talks about an unpredictable economy, where local authority services stretched to “breaking point” and increasing job instability will all have an impact on small charities.

Also highlighted in the report is a greater need for digital and technological skills, falling public trust in charities and the need for charities to make their voices heard to make sure that the government’s vision for a “shared society” involves the voluntary sector.

To meet these challenges, the report says, charities should look to branch out on their sources of income: It does advise, however, there is no one-size-fits-all approach for this.

The report also discusses charities planning ahead and understanding or identifying plans which could make them survive; like proactively joining or working with other charities, as opposed to being forced into a partnership out of necessity; or improving on digital skills available within the organisation and to make sure staff are properly supported.

The sentiment from Lloyds Bank Foundation is that for many small and local charities, matters like Brexit and the change in political landscape can be difficult to plan for whilst also facing the daily challenge to deliver essential public service, not considering the ever-dwindling resources.

And so they advise charities need to be prepared, with the intention for the “Facing Forward” report to help them face the variety of key changes heading their way.

The report also calls on Government to actually hear from smaller charities when developing policy, to drive through changes in commissioning practice, both locally and nationally; and so give smaller charities a chance to compete.

It says that local government and other local commissioners should involve smaller charities in strategic and practical decision-making and that other funders should support core costs and effective delivery.

The report also touches on larger charities also needing to concentrate on treating smaller charities fairly, in the interest of better sector and society in the long term not just their own size and market share, the report says, and it strongly suggests infrastructure organisations should be careful not to end up competing with smaller charities.

Outside of the report, Lloyds have announced they doing what they can to improve their grant-making and continuing to lobby for change, but that “..Government, other funders and larger charities must also set out how they will support small charities through the tough times ahead”: They advise that charities must start collectively act now; if not the future of many essential public services and charities working at the heart of local communities will be at risk.


Our Knowledge Brokers found the research and insight in this Report useful in shaping the way we do business.

Paul Streets, chief executive of the Lloyds Bank Foundation, said: “For many small and local charities, issues such as Brexit and the changing political landscape can be difficult to plan for if you’re facing a constant battle to deliver essential public services, with ever -dwindling resources.

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