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Research uncovers new insights into role of grant-giving charity sector

  • 15/12/2014

The national charity Turn2us, in collaboration with the Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO), has released new research providing insights in to the vital work of the UK’s grant-giving charity sector.

With recent benefit changes and cuts to local welfare provision, the results reveal that over a third (34%) of the charities surveyed have seen an increase in applications in the last year, and the same number expect to see an increase in the year ahead. Over two-fifths (43%) of charities cite struggling to manage finances on a limited income as the biggest trigger for people seeking help, whilst over a third (37%) said it was because of a physical illness or disability.

The research, conducted amongst grant-giving charities that provide financial help and other support to individuals, also provides greater understanding on how the sector operates and its impact.

The findings show that support still predominately takes the form of financial help, with almost four-fifths (79%) of charities giving one-off financial grants and almost a third (31%) providing regular financial payments. Grants are awarded for a wide range of purposes, with disability equipment, education/training costs, and household goods the three most common.

This support is still being issued through traditional methods, with over four-fifths (83%) of charities using cheques and nearly two-fifths (38%) using bank transfers. With new methods constantly emerging, there is potential for the sector to offer payment in other ways including pre-paid cards and mobile.

A number of charities are also starting to offer forms of non-financial support, with a fifth (20%) providing information and guidance and nearly one in seven (13%) providing debt support.

With demand increasing, the sector has focused on changing application forms and introducing online applications to improve turnaround times. Almost a third (30%) of charities are able to provide emergency support, and of these charities, half (49%) have a turnaround time of 24 hours to deliver this help.

The research also explores how charities would like to see the grant-giving sector develop. Improving public understanding of the sector was identified as the most important area, followed by a wish for greater collaboration between charities to share good practice and ideas.

Turn2us has a free online Grants Search tool to help people in financial need check their eligibility for grants and other support from over 3,000 charities, according to their particular circumstances. Individuals who have used the tool have seen an average annual income increase of over £2,400 in regular charitable grants and over £550 in one-off grants.

Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us said: “Our research reiterates the crucial role the grant-giving charity sector plays in supporting people in financial hardship. With new reports showing a growing number of UK families living in poverty*, need for this support has never been greater.

“This research, along with our current ‘Go for a Grant’ campaign will help us highlight the valuable financial and practical help available from charities to those families who are really struggling with financial hardship.
We also hope that charities will use the research findings to inform their own developments to services, collaborations and processes.”

Dominic Fox, Chief Executive of ACO said: “The research has uncovered many useful examples of good practice, areas for development and joint-working. We are drawing up a plan of action to help the sector address some of the challenges and opportunities identified. This includes inviting the Payments Council to talk to our members about the collective use of new payment methods; investigating the development of quality standards and helping to develop networks and forums for grant-giving organisations to facilitate information sharing and collaboration.”

For further information and interviews with Turn2us case studies or spokespeople, please contact: Emma Lamberton, Communications Officer, Turn2us
Email: Emma.Lamberton@turn2us.org.uk Telephone: 0208 834 9259

Notes to editors

All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from research conducted by nfpSynergy between September and November 2014. 215 grant-giving charities completed the research online and by post
*Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion - Joseph Rowntree Foundation 24 November 2014 (link opens in a new window)

About Turn2us

  • Turn2us is part of the national charity Elizabeth Finn Care
  • Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help – online, by phone and face-to-face through our partner organisations
  • The Turn2us free, accessible website - http://www.turn2us.org.uk/ is designed to help people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, charitable grants and other help.
  • The website has a number of tools to make the process simpler, including a Grants Search, Benefits Calculator and ‘find an adviser’ tool to help locate someone to speak to
  • Turn2us works in partnership with organisations across the UK, including AdviceUK, Association of Charitable Organisations, Citizens Advice, Child Poverty Action Group, Home-Start UK and Money Advice Trust to develop our services and reach the many millions of people that need our help.

About the Association of Charitable Organisations (ACO)

  • ACO is the national UK umbrella body for trusts and foundations that give grants and welfare support to individuals in need
  • ACO provides support to its members through networking, raising standards, lobbying and campaigning, information and online services
  • ACO currently has over 100 charity members.