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November 5, 2014

Preserve the low hanging fruit

When the first wave of austerity measures hit, there was a lot of evidence to suggest that small grants on which hundreds of thousands of ‘under the radar’ community groups depend were seen as the low hanging fruit when savings were sought. With latest estimates suggesting that we’re only half way through the austerity programme, there are real fears about the what’s to come. A new report out from Community Development Foundation, Tailor-made: How Community Groups Improve People’s Lives, lays out the case for the defence.


29 October 2014 by Susannah Birkwood,

The Community Development Foundation calls on the political parties to pledge to maintain funding for small community groups

The existence of a million under-the-radar community groups that provide vital services and support could be in peril, according to the latest research from theCommunity Development Foundation. Its report, Tailor-made: How Community Groups Improve People’s Lives, published today, says that between 600,000 and 900,000 “under-the-radar” groups exist in the UK.

Without small amounts of funding, the report says, much of the work these groups do would never happen, and the value of the services they provide, the volunteers that they attract and their impact on the community would be lost. CDF is calling on the political parties to include pledges to maintain funding to small community groups in their manifestos for the next general election. The research was carried out between September 2013 and July 2014, during which period CDF interviewed a group of partners – namely, the Asda Foundation, the Trust for London, Action with Communities in Rural England, the Community Development Finance Association, Community Matters and the National Association for Voluntary and Community Action – and conducted a literature review.

“We’re calling for the government and other funders to preserve these vital funding streams that are a lifeline to small community groups,” says the report. “Many activities still require funding, so generating this income remains a widespread concern and an enduring need for groups.”

The report notes that community groups raise the majority of their funds through individual donations but that grant funding is still critical for many groups. It says that small grants – of less than £10,000 – are particularly useful for “under-the-radar” groups, which are often too small to qualify for larger grant programmes. The report also says that state funding represents a larger proportion of the funding mix for groups in deprived areas, making them more vulnerable to reductions in state spending than their counterparts in more affluent areas.