It’s time to broaden our understanding of what #CharityIs

Mar 08, 2016

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Debra Allcock Tyler, chief executive of the Directory For Social Change, speaks up for charity . . .

When we think of charity we think of big names. We think of Oxfam, Cancer Research UK and other big organisations with big budgets tackling big national and international problems. Actually these are just the tip of the iceberg. Much of the absolutely fantastic work done on our behalf by charities is often completely unseen and under-recognised.

The charity sector is amazing. There are over 160,000 registered charities in the UK. Half of those run on less than £10k per year. That’s over 80,000 charities with no paid members of staff, supported entirely by some of the 13 million regular volunteers who work day in and day out to improve life in our communities.

A further one-third of the sector runs on budgets of up to £100k a year. Some may have a staff member. Most will be kept going by people who are completely unremunerated. Far from being about the big names, the UK voluntary sector is made up of hundreds of thousands of small entities doing great work, in local communities, on tiny budgets.

"It’s time we realised that we all benefit from charities every day."

Debra Allcock Tyler

These small charities are the lifeblood of our community and they are everywhere. They are cleaning our streets and parks, running sports clubs, driving elderly people to hospital, talking to people feeling alone. They’re looking after the animals we love, or used to love and have turned out on to the streets. No matter what your circumstances, this army of remarkable small charities has made your life better. They have made you personally better off, have improved your community, and have probably even contributed to the value of your home, whether you know it or not.

These charities exist because people believe in them and are willing to give their valuable time to help those in need. These are normal people; they are unemployed and employed, young and old, British and non-British. They are doctors, lawyers, professors, celebrities, students, managers, trainers – all giving their time and skills to make communities better. They also give their money. In fact they give away over £10bn every year to charities. It’s no surprise that the UK public is the most generous in the EU according to CAF.

If we want to continue to have this huge benefit in our lives we have to recognise what charities mean to us, not take them for granted. It’s time we realised that we all benefit from charities every day.

(Data on charity income and public donations to charity is from the NCVO Civil Society Almanac 2015)

This blog is part of the #CharityIs campaign to champion the charity sector. Join us as we use the power of social media to highlight how charities improve our daily lives.