The Fundraiser - Practical advice and insight for the charity sector

Posted in Opinion

Disability charities are losing out

Of the £576m donated to health and medical causes in 2011/12, just over £4.4m (0.8 per cent) was dedicated specifically to disability charities – a cause Andrew Robb feels is greatly overlooked


I was sitting in my small office a few weeks ago, working with a member to flesh out a potential new project, when the phone rang. The call was from the local university, seeking charity participants to attend a funding seminar by a large funder on the theme of social enterprise. Great, I thought, this is exactly what we’re seeking. My hopes, however, were soon dashed onto the rocks when I found out who the funder was: they prefer not to assist disabled-led causes.

People with disabling conditions are often portrayed as scroungers and malingerers, and this rhetoric is certainly proving effective in terms of fundraising results. Even the National Lottery has rejected our last two applications.

Statistically, since we started over ten years ago, only around 3.8 per cent of income totals raised has come from direct Lottery sources. I was told a few years ago that 20 per cent is around the norm for us small charities. Nice to know you’re popular.

It seems to me that you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t; if people who are afflicted with genuine disabling conditions are wilfully excluded from accessing the opportunities that are freely available to the majority, then so much for the Big Society.


Andrew Robb is finance director and a trustee of the Cornwall Disability Arts Group

Leave a comment