What this piece describes in the UK is precisely what many of us see happening here in Western Australia- the demise of small locally run and locally driven not- for- profit organisations that have unparalleled local knowledge and expertise in their specialist field and that provide services to high-need individuals at the local level.
The evidence is growing that the current agenda of marketisation, corporatization and service reform being imposed across the human and communty services sector by both Federal and State Governments and increasingly supported and adopted by the bigger agencies threatens the existence of small locally run and locally focused agencies.
And this trend is particularly bad news for the people who rely on the services provided by small agencies. This UK piece by Isobel Spender is spot on when it concludes that the demise and loss of small third sector agencies will ultimatley damage our society and the vulnerable people within it.
In the piece in the Guardian about the situation in the UK Isobel Spencer writes:
The government wants a more efficient third sector: less dependent on state support, more involvement of volunteers, and better use of private finance. This may emerge in time, but it will not do so quickly enough for a small, vital group of local service-providing charities – where failure will be the norm.
The UK has more than 160,000 charities. Over half have annual incomes of less than £10,000; a few are national or international in scope and major brands in their own right. These will survive, either because their needs are small or because they have sophisticated fundraising machines.
But somewhere between them is a smaller group of charities, which are at risk of closing. They are perhaps fewer than 5,000 in number and typically have annual incomes over £100,000 and significantly less than £1m. They deliver social services into the community – and focus on the hardest-to-reach and most disadvantaged people. Moreover, their "service delivery" usually involves significant numbers of volunteers.
Unfortunately, they share another characteristic: they are overwhelmingly dependent on statutory funding, particularly local authority grants – the fastest-declining source of charity income. More than £2bn of funding will be lost from this area over the next three to four years, according to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO).
They have often developed unparalleled expertise in their specialist areas, but their focus on providing services to high-need individuals at the local level has made them uniquely suited to, and reliant on, statutory funding.