The state of the sector: resilient and optimistic

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​New study looks at the state of the UK charity sector

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27th March 2015 by Graham Martin 0 Comments

UK charities in 2015 are in a “resilient and optimistic mood” but know they must prepare for an even more challenging future.

Research shows that 70% of respondents said their charity had experienced an increase in demand for their services over the past 12 months and the same number said they expected an increase in demand for the next year. 

This was one of the headline results from the 2015 Managing in a New Normal survey by the Charity Finance Group, the Institute of Fundraising and PwC, which, since 2008, has been charting how charities are coping with the impact of the recession.

Over 400 charities responded to the 2015 survey, their answers providing a good indicator of the current economic and political backdrop that’s impacting the sector and their areas individually. 

Managing in a New Normal 2015: key findings

41% of respondents plan to explore new fundraising options in the next 12 months.

* Investing in fundraising remains a popular strategy with 45% intending to increase fundraising in current areas of focus and 41% plan to start fundraising in new areas over the next 12 months.

* Top priorities for the next government are to ensure the sustainability of the sector, promoting charitable giving and protecting the independence of the sector.

* Public sector income remains the main area of financial concern.

* Some 57% of charities reported an increase in staff level in the past 12 months, an increase from last year.

 

Their top priorities for the Westminster government are to ensure the sustainability of the sector as well as promoting charitable giving. 

However, a majority of respondents identified public funding cuts as the most important challenge facing the sector and 40% of charities say that they are not sufficiently resourced to meet rising demand for their services, up from 27% for 2014.

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, said: “The operating environment for charities continues to be tough. But this year’s survey shows that the sector has responded to these challenges with its traditional resilience and innovation.

“Charities have been taking hard decisions in order to meet rising demand whilst trying to generate new sources of income. If the sector is to thrive and grow in the future, policy makers need to create an enabling environment.

“Government, regulators and charities need to come together to put in place the foundations to build a more resilient, independent and sustainable sector over the coming years.”

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said: “Each year this survey has painted a slightly different picture as we have seen the outlook change from a general pessimism to a more cautious optimism over the last seven years.

“What has been common throughout is a sense of resilience and determination from the sector to remain sustainable, adapt to changing circumstances, and meet the challenge of rising demand for services.

“The findings on the top priority areas for the next government’s policy demonstrate the importance of the role of government in creating the right conditions for sustainability of the sector and promoting and encouraging charitable giving and enabling more and better fundraising.

“The time is right for us to focus now on the wider strategic approach that government needs to play in creating the right conditions for the sector to grow, and a pragmatic and sensible debate about how charities will be able to do more in the next five years.”

Ian Oakley-Smith, director and head of charities at PwC, said: “This eighth survey suggests a modest continued alleviation in some of the challenges faced by the sector and a general sense of a corner being turned. There is also an indication that with a more confident and stable base, some charities are now starting to look forward with optimism and more of a desire to grow and develop, rather than simply to survive. 

“We see this as the silver lining of the downturn and it is important that this leadership ensures the momentum of this change does not slow if the sector is to continue to deliver more over the next few years.”