Charities that invest 'can prosper in the recession'

The recession will offer opportunities as well as threats to charities that are prepared to make investments, according to charity finance professionals.

The possible benefits of the economic downturn included the chance to hire high-calibre staff, snap up cheap property and take advantage of lower advertising rates, they said.

Quinton Seeman, a resourcing adviser at Save the Children, said the current conditions gave charities a "once-in-a- generation opportunity" to recruit people with essential skills.

"There are a lot of phenomenal people out there who are saying that this is the time to do what they want," he said. "At the same time, a lot of charities are considering a recruitment freeze.

"That's exactly the wrong thing for them to do. This is the time to try to pinch people from the corporate world who have had enough of the rat race.

"Charities must make sure they get in front of people who are thinking of switching careers."

One charity finance director, who asked not to be named, said that the recession also provided an opportunity for charities to manage personnel budgets by removing problem staff.

"If you decide you need to reduce staff numbers by 5 per cent, this offers an opportunity to remove the worst performers," he said.

Helen Verney, finance director of Jewish Care, said her organisation had already seen advantages in the property sector, where work on a major project was ahead of schedule and on budget.

"This is a good time for buying or building property," she said. "You could take advantage of cheaper property prices, lower construction costs and reduced financing costs."

Martin Birch, finance director of Christian Aid, said he expected that the recession would also provide marketing opportunities.

He said his charity's work with people in poverty, who would suffer disproportionately from the global economic conditions, could persuade its supporter base to continue donating.

"Some forms of advertising are more or less free at the moment," he said. "So we won't cut back on investing in building the profile of our cause."

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