Voluntary organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises
In 2016 there were 2803 charities registered with the Charity Commission as active in Somerset.
The charities range from private schools to playgroups, housing trusts to leisure interest societies, faith groups to community associations and national charities to local refugee support groups.
Organisations varied enormously in size, too, with incomes ranging from under £10 to over £10 million. Charity Commission data (2016) indicates that charities in Somerset tend to be smaller in scale than the national average (see chart below)
Source: Charity Commission
There is also an unknown – possibly unknowable - number of informal, unregistered, active voluntary groups across the county that perform an essential role in strengthening their communities and enriching individual lives.
Figures from the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in 2007/8 indicate that the number of voluntary organisations per 1,000 of the population was higher in all districts of Somerset than the England and Wales average.
Somerset VCSE State of the Sector Report 2016
In 2016, a local survey of charity and voluntary sector organisations was carried out.
Results paint a picture of a diverse sector committed to meeting local needs. However, many charities are facing the challenge of a fall in core funding at a time of increasing demand for services, notably increasingly complex issues faced by clients.
Nevertheless, a large majority of those participating in the survey said they planned to maintain or increase their services provided in the coming year. There is also an increasing tendency for charities to work in partnership.
State of the Sector 2016 infographic (click to enlarge)
The full report is available for download here.
The National Survey of Charities and Social Enterprises 2010
This national survey gathered the views of the leaders of charities, social enterprises and voluntary organisations in England. It was first carried out by Ipsos MORI in Autumn/Winter 2008 as the National Survey of Third Sector Organisations. The second wave of this survey took place in Autumn/Winter 2010. The title of the survey was simplified to the National Survey of Charities and Social Enterprises. However the two waves of the survey were equivalent in all other respects.
Funded by the Office for Civil Society, part of the Cabinet Office, the survey asked about opportunities to influence local decisions, the availability and nature of funding and income, support and guidance, relationships with local statutory bodies, and other factors affecting organisations’ success.
In 2010, just over half the organisations in Somerset invited to participate responded, giving a sample size of 530.
Headlines for Somerset:
- The main areas in which participating organisations worked were Education and lifelong learning, Leisure (including sport) and Community development amd mutual aid.
- Almost half (48%) carried out their activities mainly in the local neighbourhood rather than in the wider authority, regionally or nationally , in line with similar local authorities elsewhere but above the national average.
- 40% agreed that local statutory public bodies valued the work of their organisations (on a par with similar areas).
- The proportions saying that local statutory bodies informed, consulted or involved them about issues which affected them were below the average.
- One in six (16%) were satisfied wih their ability to influence local decisions relevant to their organisation, in line with the national average.
- Fewer than one in four (23%) had any direct dealings with local statutory bodies
- In line with similar two-tier authorities elsewhere, more organisations had dealings with their local district councils (45%) than the county council (36%), reflecting the perceived relative importance of that authority to the organisation.
- About one in six organisations (17%) thought statutory bodies in their local area influenced their organisation's success.