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2021 Weston Charity Awards open for applications, offering strategic support & unrestricted grant

2021 Weston Charity Awards open for applications, offering strategic support & unrestricted grant

The 2021 Weston Charity are now open for applications, offering small charities in England the opportunity to win strategic leadership support along with an unrestricted grant.

Garfield Weston Foundation and Pilotlight have launched the call for applications for the awards, which will give 20 small charities a package of strategic leadership support from Pilotlight along with a £6,500 unrestricted grant from Garfield Weston Foundation.

Charities have until 8 January to apply.

Alongside the call for entries to the Weston Charity Awards, Pilotlight has also published a new report: the 2020 Small Charity Leaders Insight Report: the Scissors Effect. Based on a survey of more than 250 leaders of charities with annual incomes under £5m, the report highlights the growing challenges they are likely to face in 2021, and the need for their leaders to consider accessing external support if they are to meet them.

The ‘Scissors Effect’ refers to small charities experiencing rising demand and falling income. The survey found that 89% of small charities’ leaders predict that service user numbers will rise or keep pace with this year, while a similarly high proportion (78%) project that their income will either drop or at best remain stable.

The survey, which received responses from 257 small charity leaders in England, Wales and Scotland, also found:

  • The majority (59%) of respondents’ charities had to dip into their reserves this year. Of the rest, 35% did not need or want to, while 6% didn’t have any reserves to start with.
  • 84% of small charities cite increased competition for funding as a major challenge for 2021.
  • Fundraising and building partnerships with the commercial sector came joint top for the professional skills charities said they would most benefit from.
  • When asked what they are most looking for from local people, 66% said to act as fundraisers, with the same percentage saying pro bono professional skills.
  • Only 7% of charity leaders say they are ‘always’ able to give themselves enough development opportunities – with 19% saying they are always able to provide this for their staff.

Philippa Charles, Director, Garfield Weston Foundation said:

“We appreciate the challenges involved in running day-to day activities and supporting beneficiaries while still keeping on top of longer-term planning as this is a tricky balance to achieve. We encourage small charity leaders to consider how they might benefit from this unrivalled package of leadership coaching and funding.”

Ed Mayo, Chief Executive of Pilotlight, also commented, saying:

“What makes the Scissors Effect so concerning is that 2021 comes after a year which has already drained income, reserves and capacity across so many small charities. The toll is evident in our finding that mental health is the number one concern at work for small charity leaders.

“Even so, the charity sector is resilient, more so than it sometimes gets credit for, and we want to pay tribute to the long hours, resourcefulness, tireless service and enduring hope that we see in so many small charity leaders. The Weston Charity Awards offer a precious form of strategic support for these leaders, something that could be invaluable in these tough times.”




Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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