A leading question on everyone’s minds at present is: “What will the new Government’s attitude be towards the Charity Sector?”. To this I would add: “And what will their attitude be specifically towards small charities?

Those of us who can remember back to the early days of this century will recall the new opportunities which opened up for charities in general as a result of Tony Blair’s view that charities could undertake a number of roles which were at that time carried out by the public sector – and carry them out more efficiently and cost-effectively.

By the second decade of the century, the Government had effectively rowed back on this view, leaving many charities – especially small ones – over-reliant on statutory funding which was no longer forthcoming.

We are seeing the longer-term results of this policy change which will feature in a discussion panel I am chairing at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s National Convention on 3 July: “Trust fundraising: are small charities getting the raw end of the deal?” This is especially relevant owing to the fact that many small charities are now obliged to seek an increasing level of grant funding from trusts and foundations because statutory support no longer exists to the extent it once did.

This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that too many funders sadly are too prescriptive in their attitude to small – and other – charities. I accept that some trust/foundation funders have their giving hands tied by the wishes of long-dead benefactors. But many do not. I chair a very small grant-making trust. We will give to any charity in the UK and the Commonwealth that we believe is performing a worthwhile role and needs some extra funding – even if their charitable activities aren’t ones that are particular favourites of ours. We just want to ensure that the little funding we can give will be well used and support disadvantaged people.

So I hope that the next government – of whatever colour – builds on the foundations laid by Tony Blair, ie. understands what tasks/roles the sector can perform better and more cost-effectively than the public or private sectors; give charities the opportunities to show what they can do and offer; and give them a firm financial footing – which doesn’t mean making them dependent on statutory funding. By now we should have learnt the lessons of Kids’ Company and 4U – and some less high-profile cases (one of which I was involved with) – where the good work done in the first decade of this century was largely undone in the second decade.