With so many charities in the UK, though all of them do amazing work, it is little wonder that some people get bored of hearing about them and the work they are doing. But what if you could let the charities know what you want from them? What do you want to see from your favourite children’s charity?
What do you want to see? More face-to-face work? An effort to improve children’s mental health? Offer more opportunities to learn a skill or something they are interested in?
Let’s take a look at the work that children’s charities do for children in the UK at the moment, the challenges they face, room for improvement and what could the next steps be?
Why are children’s charities needed in the UK?
It is a question that unfortunately even those who work for children’s charities ask themselves. There are many reasons why children’s have to exist in the UK and around the world but the majority of them work to:
- Improve the mental health of children
- Support children that are disabled with services and treatments
- Provide access to services and support children living in poverty
- Help to stop child neglect and abuse
- Provide children opportunities in sport
- Provide safe spaces for children to live a happy and acre free life
- Support young carers with the difficulties they face
The list could go on and on for the things that these charities do. Some are operated at a national level whereas some others are operated at a grassroots and local charity level.
They all have one thing in common, regardless of their size; they are there to help children and families in the most effective way possible. Whether this be through research, community action, funding of other organisations, fundraising or by being the service provider.
What challenges do children’s charities face?
Like anything, be that a business or charity, there are plenty of challenges that are faced when trying to provide a service for children.
At all sizes of charities, challenges can range from lack of funding, lack of support, public perception of the charity to lack of resources and lack of exposure.
Lack of funding. All charities need money to operate. Funding to be used for running costs or money to buy resources and the expertise of others to provide services. Funding to charities comes from a number of sources which include; fundraising, government contracts, government grants, charity grants, one off donations and people leaving money in their wills to charities. Obviously, this is finite and with the rising cost of everything around the world, funding doesn’t seem to stretch as far. Following on from this is then asking for money funding, which unfortunately does not always go to plan. Over half of the people in the UK who were asked during the Giving Britain Report think that charities have lost their humanity and are now all about the money. Unfortunately for some charities, this means that those they had been supporting, now cannot get the services they need. Though the government has recently announced that the charity sector will receive £100 million from the latest budget, some argue that this may not be enough to fill the gaps in services that have been missed by the government.
Lack of support. Referring back to the previous report by Giving Britain, many charities do not have the support needed from the public or from the government. Whether this be due to personal preference or because some say that there are too many charities doing the same thing in the UK. Some charities have also come under scrutiny for a number of reasons that range from how much many they take to how they are perceived in the public eye.
Lack of exposure. In the modern world it is an increasingly difficult challenge to stick out above everyone else online and offline. Everyone is vying for the top spot and to be above the rest. Smaller charities without the budget for big adverts and campaigns find it increasingly difficult to be seen in a world where people view something for a few seconds before moving on to the next thing. Charities are all trying to find new ways to be seen in the media to ensure that as many people as possible can see the work they are doing and why they need support.
Lack of resources. With the rising cost-of-living in the UK, what charities do have, doesn’t stretch as far. What once could have done a lot more in a community, now only covers part of it. With people around the UK also finding less time for volunteering and taking up second jobs, charities are finding it harder and harder without the volunteers that they once had.
More people needing their services. Every charity is facing the same huge challenge; there are more and more people needing the services that charities supply in the UK. A recent study found that there was a steady increase of people using foodbanks over the past couple of years with many organisations saying that they are concerned about their ability to support those who need them.
With the huge number of challenges that are being faced by UK charities comes with some extremely inspirational and dedicated people who are doing their best to provide those in need with support.
What improvements could be made to charities?
Though charities in general strive for the best for the people or causes they support, there is always something else that could be done to ensure that everything possible is done get the best results.
There are some suggested ways that help to build a better relationship with the public and gain trust, potentially then gaining more support and being able to help more people.
Give updates. Being clear and precise whilst giving updates to those who support you is a great way to show people that you are doing what you say you are doing. If the public sees that a charity is being given money and don’t see any results, it will likely raise suspicion and damage the charity’s public image and will affect those you can help. It is also important to be transparent with what the charity does. Many charities have been scrutinised for being less than transparent and have lost favour because of it.
Connect with supporters and beneficiaries. Many charities unfortunately are not connecting effectively with their supporters or those that they are meant to be helping. Some of the best ways found to do this is to hold events and regular Q and A sessions with supporters, community leaders, beneficiaries and potential donors. Connections can also be made by getting involved with events in the community, with those who need your charity’s help and by ensuring that as many charity resources go to the right places as needed.
Be transparent. Even though all registered charities are obliged to return their end of your accounts via the Charity Commission and show the public the amount of money that is spent or made through the charity, it is a good idea to also be transparent on everyday spending. Giving updates is the easiest way to show this but this can also be done by allowing members of the public to see some sort of result from what you have been doing. An update can be a good way to show people where the money you have given is going, but an update showing the result of your work will show people that you really are making a difference to those who need the most support with your charity.
Make things easy. A lot of people donate money or their time to charities but it has been found that the easier the process is, the more people will do it. Charities should make it easier by providing a simple donation option or contact service. It would also help to make it easy for visitors to charity websites to navigate them and find out about the work that is being done and find out how to support.
Be sure of what and how you want to help. Are your ideas too broad? Are you looking at helping a cause which is already receiving lots of help? Do you know how many people need the help you are offering? Getting your research right and finding out what the core problems are will be a good way to ensure that those who really need the help, receive it. A good strategy of how you will do things will also install confidence into those who you want to support you.
Be relevant. As we all know, the cost-of-living crisis is affecting most people in the UK. A lot of charities have been trying to help with this, but unfortunately it is not just households that are feeling the pinch. But, if you are working for a charity or run a charity, are you reacting to with what is happening in your community?
So, these are some ways that all charities can improve the way they are seen by the public and potentially attract more support.
It can also be beneficial for charities to find out through research, or even simply Q and A sessions to find out what others feel are the most important things that a charity should be concentrating on. For example, should a wildlife charity be focussing more on a rebirthing programme for a single species or should they be concentrating on a wider approach?
What do you want to see a children’s charity do?
Though children’s charities are working hard to address problems that the youth of the UK are facing, sometimes it can become a little defused.
Amongst looking at caring for the mental health of young people and children, providing opportunities, helping to reduce crime and providing safe spaces, what else could a children’s charity do?
Would members of the public want to see a more active approach to their work? Would a strategy to reducing crime within children and young people be a more worthwhile use of their time? Or, should more emphasis be put on support children’s mental health? Would it make more of a difference to a local community if a children’s charity was helping with the more specific challenges that are being faced or should they be working on helping to collectively help all aspects of children’s lives that need help?
If you have a favourite charity and you feel as if they may be missing the mark a little or should be concentrating on something else in your community, why not contact them and see if your ideas can be used to help everyone.
What are your ideas? What would you like to see children’s charities in the UK concentrating their work on?