Kids Co and the funding crisis

We at Voice4Change were saddened to hear the news that Kids Company is being forced to close after nineteen years of good work. This will be a real blow for the vulnerable children and young people who were helped by Kids Company, and who will now have one less place to turn to get the support that they need. The fate of Kids Company shows that no charity is immune from the impact of the economic climate and the increase in demand due to public sector cuts. Not only did they receive over £25million from the Government, but were given generous donations from the likes of Coldplay, J.K. Rowling, Credit Suisse and John Lewis. Having previously praised them for their good work, many in politics and the media are now trying to blame Kids Company for their own demise. While no charity is 100% efficient, it is clear to see that there are much deeper issues at play here than the way Kids Company was operating. Blaming them is the easy solution, but doing so ignores the fact that there are structural problems with the funding and expectations of the charitable sector.

“It’s very sad to see such a high profile charity ending this way,” says Kunle Olulode, the Director of Voice4Change, “who’s talking about the Big Society now? The Government is cutting the third sector’s funding, and then expecting them to help more people than ever because of public sector cuts. It’s no mystery why that isn’t working.”

60% of Voice4Change members receive less than £10,000 per year. Charities like these make up the vast bulk of the third sector, and do a huge amount of charitable work around the country. If Kids Company can’t survive, with all of their rich donors and notoriety, then what hope is there for the others?

Voice4Change released a report on the BME charity sector last month which highlighted the problems many of our members have faced regarding funding. The report (which can be read here) involved feedback from almost 100 charities around the country who are V4CE members. The overwhelming feedback was that they want funding to be targeted more specifically to their actual needs, and for there to be better lines of communication between funders and charities. The report also discovers that BME charities are being hit harder by this funding crisis than other charities, and are only receiving 55% of the funding of an average ‘mainstream’ charity. The report recommends many solutions to these problems, including the creation of a BME specific funding pot, and an organisation which could create dialogue between charities and their funders.

The news about Kids Company makes it clearer than ever that this is an issue which cannot be ignored. The government needs to seriously think about the role which the charitable sector plays in this country, and how they can get enough resources to continue fulfilling their functions. The V4CE report on the matter has already received a good response. Kunle has discussed it on many platforms already, giving several interviews to the BBC about its recommendations. Some big funders have shown that they are listening as well, and have called meetings with BME groups to discuss how funding could be allocated in a more effective way.

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