SMALL British charities working in international development are to benefit from a new fund announced by the Department for International Development (DfID) this week.
The Small Charities Challenge Fund, which will be launched this summer, will target UK-registered civil-society organisations with an annual income of less than £250,000.
Announcing the fund, the Secretary for International Development, Priti Patel, paid tribute to small charities that “do amazing, often highly innovative work in some of the world’s poorest places”. The fund would give “a real boost to the excellent work they do”.
Also announced was a partnership between DfID, the Charity Commission, and the wider sector, which will provide training for small- and medium-sized organisations working overseas on development. This will “build their skills and capabilities and increase their effectiveness, at the same time as increasing public trust and support for development work”.
Esther Smitheram, the communications and advocacy manager at Children on the Edge, which works with children in vulnerable situations in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa, said this week that small stature could be an advantage.
”Being small has enabled us to access situations that larger organisations cannot, because of their size and the corresponding limitations and bureaucracy,” she said. “For the last five years, we have been the only organisation providing education in safe spaces to Rohingya refugee children from Myanmar in the largest makeshift camp in Bangladesh, and we attribute this in part, to our compact size.
”Our size enables us to have the flexibility to meet needs in a targeted way as they arise, quickly and in a relational manner. We don’t rely on large and costly international staff offices in the countries we work in, but strong relationships with local partners who have a thorough understanding of the situation on the ground, and a depth of relationship with their communities.
”Having a small number of projects means we can focus on delivering work of the highest quality. . . Donors and supporters can have a greater connection and ownership with the work they are investing in.”
Two years ago, the parliamentary International Development Committee warned that growth in funding — thanks to the commitment to spending 0.7 per cent of gross national income on aid — had led DfID to “overuse multilaterals and large suppliers at the expense of smaller specialists”.