Small but vital – 360Giving analysis of small charities in Lambeth and Southwark

For Small Charity Week, we decided to explore our local boroughs, Lambeth (where our office is located) and Southwark and see which small charities are receiving grants from funders that share their data in the 360Giving standard format.

How small is small?

There is no agreed definition of a small charity. The Foundation for Social Improvement, the organiser of Small Charity Week, refers to small charities as those with an income of less than £1.5m per annum. The Small Charities Coalition defines small charities as those with an income under £1m. NCVO’s Almanac defines ‘micro’ charities as those with an income under £10,000 and ‘small’ charities as those with an income under £100,000. In general, there is relatively limited financial data for micro and small charities due to the reduced reporting requirements required by the Charity Commission.

In the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Almanac, NCVO provided the following data about micro and small charities:

  1. They make up 82% of all voluntary organisations but account for less than 5% of the total income
  2. Most of them are very small with an income below £10,000 a year
  3. Nearly 80% operate at a local level
  4. They receive little (16%) of their funding from government
  5. They are less likely to have fixed assets or reserves
  6. The vast majority of the sector continues to consist of small organisations


What we did – 3 steps for analysing 360Giving data

Step 1 – Searching GrantNav

Firstly, we searched GrantNav for location data for Lambeth or Southwark. We looked at all the grants that contained recipient locations for those boroughs. We then filtered on the years 2016 and 2017, which left us with 942 grants. We then downloaded the data to a CSV, and in Excel filtered out recipients that didn’t have charity number, assuming that they are too small or might be a business. This left us with 598 charities.

Step 2 – Adding Southwark Council data

We then added in Southwark Council’s 360Giving data. We did this because  the council doesn’t currently include recipient location in its data, which means GrantNav can’t pick it up in our analysis. However, we know that the council gives grants to these two boroughs, so we added the data in manually.

Step 3 – Using Charity Commision data to determine location and income

We enriched the 360Giving dataset using Charity Commission data. We followed this guide to adding charity data using OpenRefine tool (its very easy even if you’re not that techie!). This helped us to find out which charities in Southwark Council’s data are based in Lambeth and Southwark. This added 143 new entries to the dataset.

We also added charities annual income data to the dataset based on the Charity Commission data, which helped us to analyse the size of the different charities.

What we found

Below are three visualisations that we built using the data. The first one shows which grantmakers have funded charities in Lambeth and Southwark in 2016 and 2017 and with an annual income of less than £100k. The second visualisation looks at charities with annual incomes between £100k and £1m. The last chart shows the distribution of grants in all three income categories (smaller than £100k; between £100k and £1m; and bigger than £1m)

A note – since the cohort of funders that have shared data for 2016 and 2017 is different, the two years are not comparable. However, this comparison helps us to raise more questions and keep exploring who funds small charities in our local area.

Some insights:

  • Southwark Council is one of the main funders to small charities (annual income of less than £100k) in the area, together with the Big Lottery Fund.
  • While small charities with an annual income of under £100k receive 20% of the total number of grants, they get 5% of the total grants sum that were awarded in the area according to our database.

Do these insights surprise you? What questions would you like to answer using 360Giving data? Tweet us your thoughts @360Giving.