SET up in 2003, Me2 Club is an award-winning inclusion charity which aims to tackle the isolation and exclusion of children and young people with additional needs by enabling them to get involved in mainstream activities.
Like small charities across the UK, Me2 Club is still in the process of responding to the various ways Covid affected the non-profit sector. Even pre-pandemic, small charities faced specific challenges; and with the repercussions of coronavirus still rolling around, there are now even more moving parts to factor in.
The recent and growing cost of living crisis has added a further complication, with 58% of people (and 69% of 25-34-year-olds) planning to cut discretionary spending. According to a Charities Aid Foundation survey, 2 million fewer people gave to voluntary organisations in February than usual (25% of those surveyed, instead of 29%).
Meanwhile, for many charities these factors are taking place against a background of increased demand; for Me2 Club this looks like doubling the size of our team, helping 60% more children year on year and expanding into the neighbouring borough of Reading.
While the challenges are undeniable, as a charity we keep rising to them. But what does this look like in practical terms? As a small charity, how do we “make it work”?
We have incredible staff
Unlike larger charities with significant fundraising resources, Me2 Club has a small staff with a single fundraiser who is (fortunately for us) incredibly adept at multi-tasking and drawing on the different skills needed to juggle funding bids, community fundraising and corporate funding. Experience shows that relationship-building, storytelling and giving abundant thanks is the name of the game.
We know small is beautiful
There are benefits to being a smaller charity. For a start, successful fundraising relies on proactively searching out opportunities, and as a smaller charity, we can move quickly to capitalise on opportunities as they arise. Our supporters also know that as a smaller charity, more of their money goes directly to our cause and furthermore they get more insight into the difference it makes (in some cases even meeting the people they’ve helped).
Alexander Barfield, Chief Executive of David Brownlow Charitable Foundation said:
“I know that when I grant money to Me2 Club, every penny goes towards achieving life-changing results for youngsters, their families and increasing awareness of additional needs in the wider community. For me, Me2 Club’s impact per pound is significant, and I’m delighted to be a continuing supporter.”
We leverage resources
We take full advantage of amazing free resources for inspiration, to keep up to date with news, tips and opportunities to raise more funds.
We count the beans
The pandemic impacted our finances and to cover the shortfall we used unrestricted surplus built up over the previous two years. Our careful approach to financial management has helped us end 2021/22 in a much healthier position.
We rely on diverse funding streams and have built relationships with a growing number of local and regional trusts and foundations who repeat fund our work where we can demonstrate good value for money in the provision of services for young people.
We move with the times
Over the last two years, we’ve responded to the restrictions which have impacted event fundraising by embracing virtual events like last year’s virtual London Marathon.
Eleanor Towsey, KJ Smith Solicitors said:
“It was a real privilege to be part of the London Marathon and to take part on behalf of the Me2 Club. The experience was inspirational, life-changing, emotional and very tough for the last few miles, but the brilliant work of the Me2 Club took propelled me to the finish line.”
We’re clear about positive outcomes
A common theme for successful grant applications is demonstrating that we’re meeting a defined need effectively with clear outcomes and benefits, good leadership, sensible business plans and a commitment to excellence.
Katherine King, Grant Administrator for the KPMG Foundation said:
“I have always been impressed by my interactions with Me2 Club. They have been very keen to share their good work with colleagues in our Reading office. I would encourage anyone to volunteer or raise money for them. They are a small charity who have a big impact locally with the children and families that they support.”
We stay on-mission
Me2 Club directly engages with young people living in poverty. In Wokingham, there are economically disadvantaged wards and our expansion into Reading started with us working in areas where over 30% of young people are at risk of living in poverty. We are proud to have been able to keep our service free for parents and in cases of financial hardship have a policy to help with costs.
And still we rise
Like many small charities, Me2 Club faces continued challenges balancing demand and funding. We make it work because we fervently believe in the value of our mission, in the opportunities that come from supporting Me2 Club and in the demonstrable strong personal relationships which are formed.
We are always reaching out; please visit our website to read more about Me2 Club, to help fundraise, give corporate support or become a volunteer – and if you’d like to represent us in this year’s virtual London Marathon, please do send us an email.
We’d also love you to follow our social channels for all our latest updates:
Follow us on Twitter: @me2club
Like us on Facebook: @me2clubcharity
Follow us on Instagram: @me2club