Small charities fear they won’t survive

Grim reaper

Small charities are more insecure than ever a new UK-wide report reveals  

1st March 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

Small charities across the UK are struggling to survive under increasingly tough financial restraints, new research shows.

The Social Landscape 2017 report, published by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) and Acevo, reveals that 18% of charity chief executives believe their organisations are living a hand-to-mouth existence.

And more than a quarter of small charities – the organisations and community groups which make up the vast majority of the third sector – are struggling to fend off closure, the findings reveal.

Some 472 charity chief executives were interviewed for the CAF survey – 112 of them in Scotland.

The findings come on top of statistics published last week by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, which showed many charities had gone into “survival mode” as they were failing to grow or extend their reach.

CAF asked the charities the question: “How strongly do you agree or disagree that your organisation/charity is struggling to survive?” 

Of the 287 charities with annual incomes under £1 million, 28% said they were struggling to survive, and only 47% were confident of survival.

However among the 63 charities with incomes over £5m, 83% were confident of survival.

In 2015, the same survey showed 21% of small charities, and 15% of all charities, were struggling to survive.

John Low, chief executive of CAF, said: "In 2017 charities are facing ever-growing pressure on already-stretched resources.

"They are less confident than they were a year ago that they'll be able to meet this demand. In some cases they are being stretched to breaking point. Faced with tough times, charities are restructuring, reducing staff and in some cases adapting their mission.

“Charities remain optimistic despite an unpredictable political climate, a challenging economy and public sector funding cuts and are getting on with the job of improving people’s lives and making a positive difference in the years ahead.”

Other major concerns included a reduction in government funding, identified by just over a third of all respondents.

The survey found that almost two-thirds of charities had restructured over the past year or expected to do so over the next 12 months.

A third said they have reduced or would reduce staff numbers over the same period, and 28% of respondents said they had or would be reducing front-line services.

Ten per cent of respondents said they had plans to merge with another organisation over the coming year.

Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: “The Social Landscape report provides evidence that charities are facing a perfect storm of rising demand and decreasing funds in a time of challenging economic conditions and volatile public trust.

“It is essential that local and national government work to protect the longer term capacity of the voluntary sector and the irreplaceable role that these organisations play in our communities.”