Nearly half of charity leaders who took part in a survey by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations plan to cut spending in the next 12 months and a third of them expect to shed staff in the next quarter.
The umbrella body’s latest quarterly poll of charity leaders, which attracted 256 participants, was conducted between November and December last year.
The results show that the vast majority of respondents, 92 per cent, believe the economic conditions in the voluntary sector will be negative over the next 12 months.
Concerns about the short-term future led 32 per cent to say they would reduce the number of paid staff in the next three months – an increase of 10 percentage points compared with the previous quarter.
"This may be due to in part to the end of the financial year and associated contracts ending," says the survey report.
In addition, 47 per cent of respondents plan to cut spending in the next 12 months, and the same proportion say they fear the general situation of their organisation will worsen over that time.
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said the results showed the consequences for charities of falling income and increased demand. They also they faced further local authority funding cuts, he said.
"Charities are immensely resourceful when it comes to dealing with tight budgets, but further cuts could seriously undermine the ability of many to support the most vulnerable people in society," he said. "Charities keep reserves to see them through rainy days, but it’s been raining for a long time now."
The survey was open to chief executives, directors, trustees and senior managers.