'End of the nice decade' adds to pressure

It could be the "end of the nice decade" for the voluntary sector as recession bites, organisations shelve expansion plans and social attitudes harden, according to a new NCVO report.

The umbrella body's Voluntary Sector Strategic Analysis for 2008/09 says that charities face more pressure on income streams while expectations of their capabilities will continue to rise.

Organisations need to be resilient and "hang on to the gains - especially the cash - of the last decade," the report says.

"It will be no surprise if the consequence of the economic downturn and, in particular, a rise in unemployment, is a hardening in attitudes to social justice issues and the marginalised communities that many VCOs represent."

Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said flexible organisations should be able to ride out the storm.

"Charities that are versatile, willing to adapt and consider all the options should be able to cope with the extra challenges posed by the credit crunch, and survive it," he said.

Among the opportunities the NCVO sees in the midst of recession are an opportunity to influence the political process in the run-up to the next election, the volunteering resource of an ageing population and closer relationships with beneficiaries.

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