Dear Commissioners,

It’s time we had a proper talk.

I must warn you – this is not like our usual conversations where you pat us on the head and tell us how wonderful you think we are, and then everything stays the same.

This is not a conversation where you expect us to be grateful for funding that doesn’t cover the services we deliver.

We need a real, honest talk.

Here goes…

We are at breaking point.

You’ve been under-funding our contracts for years. Many of us haven’t had any uplift at all in recent years – during which time inflation has soared while the cost of living crisis has massively increased demand on our services.

Our dedication and focus on our service users has meant that we have kept going when the funding wasn’t enough, but the lack of uplifts and increases has meant that we have had to divert more and more fundraised income to subsidise what is supposed to be a public-funded service.

This isn’t right and it has to stop. It’s not why our donors donate, and we need that funding elsewhere. We can’t cover the gap anymore.

We are operating in an extremely pressured environment. Your inadequate funding is one of a plethora of challenges that has left many of us facing imminent insolvency.

We need you to listen to us. Now.

We need you to send decision-makers to our meetings who have the authority to make changes to our contracts.

We need you to listen and take on board our expert advice to you about our service-users and our services.

We need you to recognise the expert value we bring – contrary to popular opinion, we’re not volunteer do-gooders delivering a ‘nice-to-have’ service. We’re expert professionals working at the front line of many public services, with an unmatchable focus on impact and our service users.

We aren’t ignorant about your situation. We understand that you are in serious financial straits yourself. But exploiting charities to cover your funding gap is not the answer. If you are happy to fund private sector companies who are making a profit, then we cannot understand why you don’t think we need to at least cover our efficient and reasonable costs.

We need to warn you that we’re not going to take this anymore.

We are going to start being stronger. Less ‘nice’ and more insistent.

We’re going to be much clearer about the impact you’re having on the charity sector. We’re going to point out that your funding isn’t helping us – it’s literally costing us more money. A private company would have cut these services for being non-profitable years ago. Much as we don’t want to make these decisions, just now you’re leaving us with little choice to do otherwise.

We understand that you’re not going to like these changes.

You’re probably going to want us to go back to pats on the head and feeling good about funding a charity.

You’re probably going to feel hurt and resent us for making you face the reality of what you’re doing. You might want to lash out and criticise us for changing our tune.

We understand that a ‘nice’ charity was much easier to deal with. But ‘nice’ won’t keep us open. ‘Nice’ won’t keep our service users supported.

We’re sorry – but enough is enough.

We can’t pander to these myths anymore. Because, if we do, we won’t be here next year to deliver those services. And you’ll be left facing a choice between expensive private sector options or… nothing.

And as for our service users and services? Abandoned.

You need to fund us properly now, or you’ll lose us forever.

Thanks for the chat,

The Charity Sector