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March 7, 2012

Importance of the little and local


The funding landscape for the community and voluntary sector can seem impossibly complicated and disjointed. And in many respects that’s just exactly how it is. A few years ago, Scotland’s major funders formed the Funders’ Forum in an attempt to work together more closely and to maximise their collective impact. Hard to tell whether it’s worked, but a recent report suggests that they are in no doubt as to the crucial value of funding the small scale, local projects.



Mary Craig, Chair, Scottish Funders’ Forum


For a copy of the full report, click here Report 

The Scotland Funders’ Forum is a gathering of funders in Scotland, including statutory bodies and independent grant making trusts, who are committed to best practice in funding the voluntary and community sector and to maximising the impact of funding for the benefit of Scotland. We come together to share information, to identify and address areas of common interest and to share best practice and learning.

We believe that small voluntary and community groups are a vital part of the fabric of local communities, play a key role in helping to uncover, understand and address local need and crucially, help to unlock and connect local people. These small local groups are often of the people, by the people and for the people. They tend to operate with few paid staff, little financial security, and are often the most likely to struggle in contributing in the dialogue about the priorities for future local investment.

We are concerned about the uncertain future facing these groups in the current funding environment and the communities they support. We think their voices, direct experience and ability to mobilise local involvement are all critical in meeting the challenges ahead.

Much attention of late has been focused on the risk to mainstream services of reducing public sector budgets, and the demand to deliver better services with less. We support the voices within the third sector and beyond, who have identified an urgent need for all partners to sit down and plan jointly how to deliver improved local services within their areas, balancing expenditure effectively between existing needs and preventative work.

As funders, we want to be able to play our part in improving the lives of people and communities in need, by investing in these small local groups. 

We have the opportunity to work with the Improvement Service, local government and others to raise awareness of the particular contribution being made by small local groups in building improved social cohesion, enhancing the quality of life of people, and empowering local people to drive the regeneration of their communities.

The stories in this report  introduce and celebrate the valuable and diverse work being undertaken by our small local groups up and down Scotland every day. They highlight not only challenges, but also how enterprising many have been in adapting to growing demand and reducing core income. It is clear in their stories that their capacity is not without limit.

While the pressures on the voluntary sector have been building for a long time, we want to highlight that if we allow these small local groups to fail, we lose existing service provision for some vulnerable people and families.

We will, also, lose the goodwill, the commitment, the local structures with which we can work, and the knowledge and experience of those currently active in their local communities – the very assets on which we can build future success.

We invite all who share our view, that these small local groups should be celebrated, valued and supported, to join us.