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Keeping it local – why I’m sponsoring a bicycle this Christmas


Today is local charities day, giving us a chance to acknowledge and celebrate all the important work that charities do in their communities throughout the UK.

Local charities by their nature tend to be small, and we know that small charities have had a tough time recently, with the government’s shift to issuing more contracts hitting small charities particularly hard, coupled with a decline in trust in charities in general. But it’s not all bad news. Recent analysis by NCVO found that one in four people are volunteering every month – many in their local community – and people continue to give generously to local causes.

So what does 360Giving data tell us about local charities? I found two interesting facts and a great example of collaboration for a local charity I care about.

Fact #1: Most of the biggest grantmakers are funding small, local charities

You might think that big funders like the Big Lottery, Children in Need, City Bridge Trust, Comic Relief, Esmée Fairbairn, Henry Smith and Lloyds Bank – who between them give away £805 million each year – would be doing this in nice big chunks. Well, you’d be wrong. They’re giving lots of grants of less than £10,000 to local charities throughout the UK, either directly or in the case of Comic Relief, via the network of 48 UK Community Foundations. These visualisations by our Labs and Learning Manager Mor Rubinstein, show how many grants seven community foundations have made to local charities in 2013-2016. With more community foundations due to share their data with us in 2018, we’ll be able to build a more comprehensive picture of funding to local charities throughout the UK. We also had a look at the work SCVO is doing in Scotland with local charities and the size of the organisations they’re supporting.

Fact #2: Most UK charities are small and working with their local community

We know from NCVO’s number crunching for its Civil Society Almanac that there are over 165,00 voluntary organisations in the UK and most of them are small. We wanted to see if these organisations are also captured in 360Giving data. The answer is yes! There are grants for over 100,00 different organisations included in the data, meaning we have information on the sector that reflects the sector. And because we have data on exactly who these organisations are (their registration number, location, etc.) it’s easy to look them up and find out more about what they’re working on, where and with which communities. Check out GrantNav, where you can search 360Giving data by themes and regions and see what funding is being provided to causes you care about.

And the bicycle? When doing this research, I looked up a local charity that I care about, called the Bike Project. They take second-hand bikes, fix them up and give them to refugees in London. When I searched our dataset, I found seven grants from six different funders totalling £266k. And because the grants have descriptions, I can see what they’re for and how they complement one another. Together, this data tells a nice story about a charity working with a specific community. This example highlights why open data is so useful. It took me less than one minute to find this information, it was interesting and its inspired me to support them. This year, my brother’s Christmas present is going to be a sponsored bike.

What questions do you have about funding to local charities? Join our Quest for Questions and tell us what you’d like to know – so that on local charities day in 2018 we’ll have even more interesting facts to share.

Happy #LocalCharitiesDay!

For information about volunteering in your community, visit the NCVO website:

Looking for ways to donate to a local cause? Then check out Local Giving, The Big Give or find out what your local community foundation is doing in your area and how you can support them.