Voluntary organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises
In 2016 there were 2,803 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 2020
In 2020, an in-depth review of the state of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Somerset was carried out. The Somerset VCSE State of the Sector report for 2020 was the second report of this nature commissioned through the Somerset VCSE Strategic Forum and built on the work of the 2016 State of the Sector report.
Some key findings:
- There are 2,760 registered charities in Somerset and 100s more informal community groups
- 87% of the ‘workforce’ are volunteers
- Key challenges organisations currently facing include loss of funding/income; loss of face-to-face/group working; adapting to digital working; retaining and training workforce; shielding customers/clients, future uncertainty and developing new services for COVID-19 circumstances
- Of the groups that responded, 10,334 volunteers contribute 19,463 work hours in an average week.
State of the Sector March 2020 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.