Charities continue to face increased demand and lower donations, surveys show

Research conducted separately by the Charities Aid Foundation and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator reveal difficult circumstances for the sector

More than a third of charities are facing increased demand during lockdown while more than half report fewer donations, new research shows. 

And in Scotland, one in five charities say they run the risk of a “critical threat to their financial viability”.

The Charities Aid Foundation asked more than 400 charities on 21 and 22 May whether they agreed or disagreed that charities had experienced an increase in demand for their services because of the crisis.

It found that 36 per cent of respondents reported an increase in demand for their services since the UK entered lockdown in March. 

A quarter of those who had seen increased demand estimated it as 50 per cent higher than before the crisis hit.

Despite the increasing demand, 53 per cent of charities surveyed said they have received fewer donations. 

A separate survey carried out by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator attracted 4,827 responses from charities in Scotland between 5 and 15 May. 

It found that the biggest impact on charities had been the “cancelling or postponing of planned work or events” because of the lockdown measures taken in the wake of the pandemic, affecting 78 per cent of respondents.

Twenty per cent of respondents said there was a “critical threat to their financial viability” in the next 12 months because of the pandemic. 

Twenty-five per cent of respondents said they had applied for emergency funding to help mitigate the impact.

Similarly, half of the respondents to the CAF survey said they had sought or received some form of emergency grant funding to deal with the crisis. 

Susan Pinkney, head of research at CAF, said charities were “facing a funding crisis as donations disappear” despite working harder to tackle increased need.

“For many this is down to closed charity shops, cancelled fundraisers and a lack of collection tins on our streets,” she said. 

“It’s worth perhaps reminding people how much charities rely on regular donors who use things like direct debit or employee payroll-giving schemes to support charity every month. 

“It is well and truly the lifeblood for the causes that we cherish and which has never been more valuable.”

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