More than 80 per cent of small charities expect their income either to rise or stay the same in the next year, according to new research from the Garfield Weston Foundation.
The research, based on a survey of 371 leaders of small charities carried out as part of the Weston Charity Awards scheme, found that 38 per cent of respondents thought their income would rise, and 46 per cent thought it would remain the same.
Only 16 per cent of the small charity leaders surveyed thought their organisation’s income would fall in the next 12 months, the survey found.
In comparison, 2017’s survey found that 34 per cent of small charity leaders were pessimistic about their income for the year ahead, while 36 per cent were confident of an increase and 30 per cent thought it would remain at the same level.
This year’s survey also found that more than three-quarters of the charities that responded thought they would expand their services in the year ahead, with only 3 per cent expecting a fall in service provision.
This compares with 58 per cent being confident of increasing service provision in the 2017 survey, and 10 per cent fearing a fall in the number of people the charity could help.
Despite these results, 69 per cent of small charity leaders though there was more uncertainty in their operating environment than in previous years, and a quarter said they had to deal with the loss of a major source of funding.
Three-quarters of small charity leaders surveyed said funding was one of their biggest concerns.
Respondents to the survey overwhelmingly felt there was a lack of support from central government, with 82 per cent saying this was a concern.
A quarter of the charity leaders surveyed said there was a reduction in support from their local councils, and 45 per cent said councils did not provide enough support for small charities.
Four in five small charities said collaboration with larger charities was a problem, and three-quarters cited issues with private sector partnerships.
But 65 per cent of respondents said that collaboration between small charities worked well.
The biggest challenge in 2018 was complying with new regulations and best practice, particularly with the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation, the survey found.
Philippa Charles, director of the Garfield Weston Foundation, said: "Small charity leaders are under enormous pressure to steer their organisations through uncertain times.
"We are delighted to support those showing enormous creativity and resilience through these awards and to help them reach their goals."
The Weston Charity Awards scheme, which opened today, makes grants of £6,500 available to charities with incomes of less than £5m in the north of England, the Midlands and Wales, as well as a year’s coaching programme run by the Pilotlight programme.