The Lifeblood of Fairer Communities - The Wheel Welcomes Launch of Charities Regulator Report on Small Charities

Posted on 14 Nov 2023

“Small charities are the lifeblood of fairer communities,” says Ivan Cooper, CEO of The Wheel. “This latest report shows not only the breadth of the work being done across the country by local organisations, but the high level of trust the public has in them. This is a real validation of the work of the many staff and volunteers who keep these organisations running, often in very challenging circumstances.” Almost half of all charitable organisations (excluding schools and the HSE) are small charities, engaged in local, community-based projects, according to a report published this week by the Charities Regulator.  

Exactly half of all charities concerned with the prevention or relief of suffering of animals were small charities, as were more than two in five of those concerned with the protection of the natural environment (43.7%) and advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science (42.1%), showing the diverse range of activities in which small charities engage. 

Meanwhile, more than one in eight small charities are concerned with the advancement of community welfare including the relief of those in need due to youth, age, ill-health, or disability. The same proportion were concerned with the advancement of education.  

Big Trust in Small Charities 
Almost half of the people surveyed (49%) said that they trusted small charities as they are “confident that the money reaches the intended beneficiaries,” according to the report. This also likely reflects the longevity of these organisations, with more than a third of small charities registered since before the Regulator was established in 2014.  

“This trust in small charities is particularly important considering how precarious their funding is,” said Mr Cooper. “Donations are the main source of funding for these charities, funding which has seen a significant decline since Covid and will no doubt be further impacted by the increased cost of living.” 

The report found that almost half of the small charities which reported income received no funding from the Government or State Agencies, and more than a third rely on just one source of income. Some 86% of all charities that reported relying exclusively on donations were small charities. The Report considered the impact of Covid-19 on small charities, and found a 12.8% decrease in donations since 2019, compared to a 2.5% decrease for charities generally. 

Valuing Trustees and Volunteers 
“Charities Trustees’ Week is an opportunity to say a big ‘thank you’ to the thousands of people who give their time to their communities for free,” said Mr Cooper. “Almost 16,000 trustees are associated with small charities, and with only 18% of these charities having paid staff, their guidance and support is invaluable.” 

The report found that small charities engage more than 53,000 volunteers. If each volunteer gave just two hours per week, the economic value of this work would range from €56 million (based on the national minimum wage) to €145 million (based on average weekly earnings). This is a considerable contribution. 

“The Wheel knows that the value of the contribution of trustees and other volunteers is measured in far more than money. Without them, these essential services and supports could not be delivered,” said Ivan Cooper. 

View Charity Trustees' Week 2023 Programme