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Kids Company – What We Have Learnt

Last week was an interesting week for the voluntary sector, with a high-profile charity hitting the headlines!

Kids Company supported thousands of children in London, Bristol and other selected sites across England. Receiving substantial support from central government, as well as wealthy backers, the charity seemed to do good work… but something went terribly wrong.

Amongst all the rumours that have been circulating (which we won’t go into here – if you want to see some, search #kidscompany on Twitter!), it’s pretty conclusive that the charity did not have good financial management, and was therefore always dependent on grant funding from the government. Once the cash dried up, the charity wasn’t able to stay open.

However, they did good things: their ethos of never turning a child away was admirable – even if it was managed and carried out poorly – and the fact that they helped thousands of children was again something to be proud of.

Now voluntary sector organisations and central government are trying to establish how they can support the children and families left without a shoulder to cry on. This just demonstrates the big gap that one charity has left in London with children, families and volunteers wondering where they can turn to now.

Even though the reports are conflicting and still ongoing, there are a few things that as charities we should take from this:

  • Think about your charity’s financial management – do you need assistance or is everything okay?
  • Is it time to diversify your income? Grants are drying up and charities need to ensure that they are not just asking for funding from one source;
  • Do your trustees know how important their challenges are for you? Do they understand their role?

Finally, remember that charities transform communities, families and those hardest to engage and are often the only place that people can turn to.