- Local giving can mean different things. In all senses, it’s focusing your giving around a particular geography that matters to you.
- Local charities make up a large proportion of the charity sector and often operate on tiny budgets; 85% of registered charities in the UK have an annual income of less than £100,000 and thousands more community groups operate informally.
There are a range of challenges facing every local community, providing abundant opportunities for donors of all types to make a difference to their local residents or neighbourhoods.
Donors choose to give locally for a range of reasons; their desire to improve their local area or tackle inequality, a personal experience (for example supporting their local hospital), a wish for hands-on involvement in the community, or a belief that supporting small local organisations can have great impact. It is one of the easiest ways to really see what difference your money or time is making and can therefore be incredibly rewarding, and often a good place to start for donors daunted by the range of charities to support.
Local giving can mean different things. For some donors, it can represent supporting a place close to their home or work, and that place can be a village, a borough, a city or even a whole country. For others, it may mean giving back to the community in which they grew up, or where their family originally came from. But in all senses, it’s focusing your giving around a particular geography that matters to you.
Reasons to give locally
Local charities make up a large proportion of the charity sector and often operate on tiny budgets; 85% of registered charities in the UK have an annual income of less than £100,000 and thousands more community groups operate informally. Local charities tend to be badly affected by cuts during financial downturns at a time when they usually face higher demand for their support. Donations to relatively small organisations can make a real difference to the issues they are addressing, and enable philanthropists to see the impact of their gift up close.
Local charities also know their local issues well, having the knowledge, expertise and networks that would be hard for national organisations to come by.
Get to know local need
One of the best ways to get to know your local area is simply to walk or drive around, visit community centres and local groups, and talk to community leaders. Check local press and websites to find out about organisations, events, and forums where you can find out what’s going on, or try talking to the local branch of a national organisation. Most areas have voluntary sector infrastructure organisations such as a volunteer centre or council for voluntary services which can explain the local context and suggest projects you may wish to support.
Working with partners
If you want to fund locally but don’t have much time to dedicate to researching local needs, consider funding through a community foundation. Community foundations are geographically focused charities which aim to identify local needs and link philanthropists to projects which will improve the life of their community. They provide a range of vehicles for giving time, money and expertise. If you’d like to retain more involvement in your giving consider connecting with other local funders through a regional funding network.
Glossary: community foundation, community development finance institution