Ninety-eight per cent of charity leaders think economic conditions in the voluntary sector will be "negative" in the next 12 months, according to new research from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.
The most recent edition of the NCVO’s quarterly Charity Forecast survey, published today, shows confidence in the sector’s economic conditions has fallen to its lowest level since the survey began in 2008.
To the question "do you think the economic conditions within the voluntary sector will be negative, neutral or positive over the next 12 months?", 98 per cent say conditions will be negative, a rise from 90 per cent in the previous edition of the survey, published in June.
The report, based on a survey of 80 chief executives, directors, trustees and senior managers in August and September, says that 60 per cent of respondents believe the financial situation of their charity will worsen in the next 12 months, an increase from 53 per cent in the previous survey. Twenty-five per cent believe there will be no change and 15 per cent say they expect conditions to improve.
Thirty per cent of those polled plan to reduce staff numbers in the next three months. Thirty-five per cent say there will be no change in staff numbers and 22 per cent that numbers will increase.
Forty-six per cent believe their charity will cut its spending in the next 12 months, but 36 per cent say they will increase spending, a rise from 33 per cent.
Asked if their charity has plans to increase or reduce the services it offered, 38 per cent say the former and only 17 per cent the latter.
Seventy-two per cent of respondents expect to collaborate more with other organisations in the next 12 months. Seventy per cent say they expect to compete more with other organisations in that time.
Fifty-eight per cent of the sample believe the financial situation of their charity has worsened in the past 12 months. Twenty per cent say there has been no change and 22 per cent that it has improved.
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said: "These figures really bring home the widespread trepidation shared by many voluntary organisations. Many have serious concerns about their future resilience and ability to provide vital services.
"While the government has outlined some encouraging aspirations in relation to charitable giving and public services, it needs to work with us to translate these into concrete and accessible opportunities."