Kathy Faulks, Support Worker (Group Development) at Voluntary Action Leeds explores alternatives to starting up a new charity.
Hello there, I have changed my job title! However, I am the same person doing the same job and today I want to talk to you about whether it is always the best thing to set up a new charity when you have a new idea or a new passion or a new issue of a charitable nature.
Sam Younger, the outgoing chief executive of the Charity Commission, has recently had this to say:
One of the great strengths of our society is the charitable instinct of its people. People identify a new need or a new way of addressing an existing need, and they use the vehicle of charity to do something about it. That has created the vibrant, diverse and dynamic charitable sector that touches the lives of all of us every day.
"But I would add a cautionary note. The Commission’s experience is that many people set up a new charity without making sure they have identified an unaddressed need or found an innovative solution; without making an honest effort to establish whether another charity is already doing similar work. The result is duplication, inefficiency, and, sadly, too many charities that are not managed well enough. As charities compete for resources and face ever greater scrutiny, I think we should be bolder in saying: not all of the charities the Commission registers end up making an impact.
"So I would urge anyone who wants to help others to ask: what difference will I really make by setting up a brand new organisation? In other words, to consider whether they might do a great deal more good by helping an existing charity."
Consider the alternatives to setting up a brand new charity:
- Work with an existing charity
- Set up a named fund instead of a charity
- Set up a non charitable social enterprise
These alternatives are considered in more detail in guidance from the Charity Commission which includes lots of links if you want to explore the idea more.
You may realise that this blog is inspired by the poem by Robert Frost “ The road not taken”. And here is the famous quote from that poem:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I --
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
My next blog will be about the new Charity Commission guidance on setting up and registering a charity...