Recognising the value of small charities

Helplines Partnership Annual Conference 2019 - Caroline Howe, Lloyds Bank Foundation

Lloyds Bank Foundation’s Caroline Howe was one of our panel of expert speakers at this year’s Annual Conference. Caroline talked to us about the work the organisation does with small charities and the value of keeping it local.

Lloyds Bank Foundation is an independent charitable trust funded by Lloyds Banking Group. They partner with small and local charities helping people overcome complex social issues such as mental health, homelessness and domestic abuse.

What makes small charities distinctive?

Findings from independent research funded by the Foundation, The Value of Small, show that small charities are distinctive, with features that can mark them out from their larger peers. It’s not just about what they do, but how they do it and their position in communities.

Much like helplines, small charities often act as ‘first responders’ for people in crisis and provide a safe space for people where they feel respected and don’t risk being stigmatised.

They often reach people early and stay with them for the long-term. Again, similarly to helplines, many have an open-door approach, meaning that people are not turned away and are listened to without fear of judgement.

Small charities tend to be well established within and between local networks and have strong local relationships. They advocate for people who need support and often act as the glue that holds communities and services together.

Caroline explains “Together, their distinctiveness enables small and local charities to deliver high levels of social value. They are more than the sum of their parts.”

Individual value

Small charities often help to meet people’s basic and unmet needs. One of the reasons that people call helplines is because they have unmet needs, needs that other organisations are unwilling or unable to support.

Both can support and help people to achieve ‘small wins’, whether that’s building confidence or independence for example, which are the foundation for more long-term outcomes.

Economic value

Local economies benefit from the small charities in the area because they reduce the pressure on other, often statutory, services.

People from the local area are employed by the charity and it will buy goods and services in the local area, supporting the local economy.

Re-investing money in the local area in this way is increasingly important with less redistribution of funding and local authorities more dependent on generating their own income.

What’s more, local charities often attract in further funding from other sources like independent funders.

Added value

It’s not just about money. Volunteers may give up their time freely to support the charity, but their time has value.

While recognising this can be a crude example, quantifying volunteer hours and their value (even just at living wage values) can help to demonstrate the scale of value small charities are generating.

Those volunteers bring in new skills and experiences and enable the charity to deliver its services and continue to operate in the local area.

Demonstrating value

While research shows that small charities generate high levels of value, too often this isn’t recognised.

For small charities, the value they generate is often inherent in what they do and how – so they may not always shout about it as additional value.

And for funders, they may not recognise the different ways that small charities demonstrate their value.

It can be helpful to take some time to think through all the different ways your charity generates value.

How do these relate to your local area’s strategic objectives or the interests of the organisation you’re trying to engage?

Aligning how work your charity is already doing helps to meet these objectives can build recognition and understanding.


Thank you to Caroline for taking part in our speaker panel at the 2019 Helplines Partnership Conference.

There are resources available on the Keep It Local website for charities who want to talk to their local authority about recognising the value of small.

If you would like to know more about Lloyds Bank Foundation and their work you can visit their website.

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