The head of charities at a major funder assesses the state of the sector
The failings of a few charities should not be used as a stick to beat the vast majority – and jeopardise all the good they do.
That’s the view of Clara Govier, head of charities at the People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL), one of the UK’s major third sector funders.
She told TFN that greater accountability in fundraising is key as the industry finds its way out of its current difficulties..
Govier said: “Charities rightly should be scrutinised and called to account. I'm saddened to see that the poor performance and decision making of a few has had such an impact on the many who deliver unquestionable public benefit.
While the headlines focus on the bad stories we shouldn't fail to recognise the contribution many amazing organisations makeClara Govier
“The lessons to be learnt revolve around greater accountability and transparency. So while the headlines will inevitably focus on the bad stories we shouldn't fail to recognise the contribution the many amazing organisations make.”
Govier, who joined PPL in 2010 after working for "many years” in the Scottish voluntary sector, continued: “The charity sector plays a vital role in supporting society. Grassroots organisations continue to do incredible work in local communities, and we see hundreds of applications for funding each year.
“We can see first hand how a small passionate organisation can transform and engage local communities.
“The funding environment for charities is incredibly difficult right now, particularly for those charities which are small and have less resources to adapt.
“Demands from funders can be high and many are risk averse, which doesn't allow creativity or the ability to try new approaches. People's Postcode Lottery is particularly focused on supporting projects which are innovative, with our Dream Fund being a tangible example of how we encourage charities to work together and identify creative partnerships.”
Whatever problems are facing some parts of the sector, PPL has been a demonstrable success.
In August it announced it had smashed its fundraising expectations by reaching the £80 million mark for good causes in Britain and beyond.
A society lottery, players’ postcodes are randomly selected in a weekly draw allowing entire communities to win together with 27.5% of the ticket price awarded to charities and good causes from every £2 ticket.
Over 1,500 national and local grassroots projects have been supported and over 95% of postcodes across Great Britain have a benefitting charity in their region.
Some of the well-known charities that have received funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery include Missing People, Depaul, Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres, Dame Kelly Holmes Trust and Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust.
Reflecting on how this success has been created, Govier maintained simplicity has been key: “Buy a ticket, win with your neighbours and help charities.”
“Success has been a journey of learning and hard work. We have never forgotten that our players are central to everything we do and it is our business to understand them.
“From the charity perspective it's about relevance and appeal to players. As a funder our success is about understanding what charities need which is flexibility and continuity.
“Yet we have never let our belief that we all as individuals, and as an organisation, can and should do more. Our players support charities across Great Britain and internationally, and charities are supported based on insight from players. We then ensure that players are updated and have access to information, ensuring they are engaged in the charities they support.”
However, she believes the PPL could do even more – and this could be unlocked by a simple change to regulation.
Govier said: “Under the current regulatory framework, society lotteries are limited in what they can achieve. Simple changes to the way that society lotteries are regulated could generate as much as £130.2 million each year for good causes at no expense to government or the tax payer.
“At a time where charities are being more restricted on revenue streams this has untapped potential.”