A third of charities can't meet demand

Thirty-five per cent say demand exceeds supply, according to a survey by the Charity Commission

More than a third of charities are unable to meet the demand for their services, according to the results of a major survey published today by the Charity Commission.

The Ipsos Mori report, A Balancing Act: New Perspectives On The Charity/Beneficiary Relationship, shows that more than a quarter of respondents would be embarrassed to get free help from a charity.

A weighted survey of more than 2,000 organisations has found that demand exceeds supply for 35 per cent of all charities and 60 per cent of large charities. But only 39 per cent of charities say they usually or always refer beneficiaries they are unable to help to similar organisations, and 13 per cent say they never do. The report calls on charities to take a "more proactive approach" to referrals.

The report also reveals that 28 per cent of a sample of 3,000 members of the public say they would be embarrassed to receive free help from a charity. This falls to 21 per cent if the service is paid-for.

Only 9 per cent of respondents think the voluntary sector should provide the highest level of service, compared with 40 per cent for the public sector. But 24 per cent think it would, compared with only 19 per cent for the public sector and 24 per cent for the private sector.

There is widespread confusion about which organisations could be charitable; only 21 per cent think a debt counselling organisation could be a charity.

Dame Suzi Leather, chair of the commission, said the stigma surrounding charity help needed to be addressed, particularly in the context of the financial downturn. "In some cases we need to strengthen the relationship between charities and those they might be able to help," she said. "Who uses charities, what they expect and how they are treated should be of central importance to each and every charity." 

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