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Small Charities, Big Impact: The Vital Role of Buckinghamshire’s Community Champions

Small Charity Week is all about empowering small charities across the UK, including highlighting the challenges they face and the positive impact they make on local communities. 96% of the voluntary organisations in the UK are small charities, with an annual income of less than £1million.

Richard Sherry, Policy and Insight Manager at Heart of Bucks, investigates the small charity landscape in Buckinghamshire.


Definitions of ‘small charities’ vary from organisation to organisation, from those with annual incomes of £50,000 and under up to £1million and under. In Buckinghamshire, we believe £50,000 to be a suitable cutoff point. There will undoubtedly be overlapping challenges facing these organisations and higher-earning organisations, there will also be significant differences in the structure and size of charities earning under £50k and charities earning hundreds of thousands of pounds or more.


Small charities in Buckinghamshire

There are 1,325 charities with less than £50,000 income based in Buckinghamshire, and a further 254 operating within the county but based elsewhere. There are a total of 2,447 Buckinghamshire charities registered with the Charity Commission.

These small charities are most often locally based and focused, meaning they are uniquely placed to see firsthand the issues affecting their communities, and therefore to effectively respond to and address real needs. Small charities can be real lifelines for those in crisis and for the most vulnerable members of our society.



However, small charities are also less shielded from socio-economic volatility. They often rely much more upon local funding and are often significantly more likely to be affected by public sector budget cuts. Furthermore, many are struggling to keep up with increased demand driven by the cost-of-living crisis and increasing social pressures.

Small charities often rely heavily on volunteers and community involvement. Nationally, 75.7% of micro charities and 72.7% of small charities strongly agree to the statement they ‘could not keep going’ without volunteers, compared with only 40.9% of large (greater than £250k income) organisations. Small charities are consequently hit hardest by the long-term decline in volunteering in the UK.

Across Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire (BOB), 65% of all charities fit our definition of small charities, making up a significant proportion of the total local charity sector. Of these, 34.7% are ‘micro’ charities; those with less than £10,000 yearly income. These are often the grassroots groups, made up almost or entirely of volunteers, performing vital work and service delivery in the local community – but also the most susceptible to the struggle to secure funding and resources to meet the demand for their services. In fact, a report by the BOB VCSE Health Alliance found that two-thirds of the 7,500 registered VCSE organisations across Bucks, Oxfordshire and Berkshire are entirely volunteer-run.



Accessing local funding from organisations such as Heart of Bucks (HoB) Community Foundation can be a vital lifeline for small charities. Heart of Bucks provides grant and loan funding to charity organisations throughout Buckinghamshire. Our grant funds target a variety of impact categories including (but not limited to) Community Safety, Healthy Ageing and Young Futures, and is open for applications periodically throughout the year.

HoB has funded over 1,000 of the small charities operating in Buckinghamshire, and championing small charities is foundational to the organisation’s purpose. HoB has supported over 6,000 community projects since 2000 and awarded over £5m to local causes over the past 3 years. You can read more about some of the fantastic organisations and projects HoB has supported on our website.

Other potential sources of support for small charities in Bucks include The Rothschild Foundation, Leap and Community Impact Bucks.


If you’re part of a not-for-profit organisation in Bucks that may benefit from HoB funding, get in touch with the team at or visit our website to find out more about the application process. You can also get in touch with Richard at


If you would like to find out how Bucks Data Exchange could help your charity use data effectively, please email us on Hello@Bucksdataexchange.Org



BOB VCSE Health Alliance Report: Voluntary, Community & Social Enterprise: Skills, Talent & Values In Our Workforce

BOB VCSE Health Alliance Report: The VCSE Workforce in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire West – What People Do and Why They Do It

Lloyds Bank Foundation: ‘The Value of Small’ Report on the role of SMCs – the-value-of-small.pdf (

UK Gov Charity Commission – About the register of charities ( What small charities do | Small Charities Data

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