Charities to take on more staff despite downturn, says survey

More than 40 per cent of charities are planning to take on more staff despite a general expectation that economic conditions in the sector will worsen, according to a survey by the NCVO.

The umbrella body asked 210 charity leaders in August about their plans and predictions. The results in its Charity Forecast survey show that 42 per cent had plans to increase paid staff numbers over the three months from August, even though 74 per cent thought that economic conditions in the sector would be negative over the next year.

Maria Aguilar, director of recruitment company HR Services Partnership, said grant funding meant that charities were not always affected by short-term fluctuations in the economy.

"Charities will now be spending money that they applied for last April," she said. "But it is inevitable that their income will be affected in the medium and long terms - there just won't be enough money to go round."

Aguilar said she knew of one charity that was paid by results for helping unemployed people back into work. "They're seeing more people at the moment, so they have more funding coming in and can employ more staff," she said.

Jonathan Dearth, director of campaigning recruitment company The Right Ethos, said taking on more staff was necessary because charities' work would become harder.

"It's a particularly bullish attitude, but a positive one," he said.

"It's going to be harder to fundraise in this climate, so maybe charities will need more fundraisers. And campaigners will have to campaign harder if, for example, they are campaigning for more public money to be spent on international development or housing."

The survey, which is carried out every three months, also shows that 47 per cent of charity leaders thought the general situation of their organisations would improve in the next year - down by 22 percentage points since the February poll. Their answers suggest that increased competition for funding and the shift from grant to contract funding were reasons for the fall.

FACT FILE

61 per cent of respondents expected to increase their expenditure over the next year

59 per cent had plans to increase the services they offer in the following three months - part of an upward trend since February

47 per cent thought that government policies would worsen the operating environment for their organisations. Only 12 per cent thought it would improve

Source: NCVO Charity Forecast Survey.

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