More than half of charities do not expect pre-pandemic levels of fundraising events to return before the end of this year, according to new research.
The latest edition of the Covid-19 Charity Tracker by Pro Bono Economics, in partnership with Charity Finance Group and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, is based on a survey of 650 charities.
Researchers found charities that had organised in-person fundraising events for 2021 were reporting lower public demand for places than usual.
Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) reported that take-up was worse than in a typical year, and 54 per cent of charities said they did not expect to be back to pre-pandemic levels of fundraising events by the end of the year.
Researchers said the new findings contrasted starkly with the optimism across other sectors of the economy as the latest Bank of England forecasts predict an economic upturn, with almost all GDP losses recovered by the end of 2021.
The survey also showed that 70 per cent of charities said they expected the pandemic to have a negative effect on their ability to deliver their objectives over the next 12 months.
Despite a challenging environment, researchers found reasons to be positive; 76 per cent of charities had tried new delivery models over the past year, 59 per cent increased their workforce's digital skills and 42 per cent collaborated with other charities.
But smaller charities were particularly nervous about the next 12 months, having been hit hardest by the pandemic – nearly three in five smaller charities said their overall income had dropped, compared with 45 per cent of bigger charities.
Researchers found this was exacerbated by the fact that only four per cent of smaller charities were carrying out fundraising events at pre-crisis levels, compared with 10 per cent of larger charities.
Those smaller charities that were running in-person events this year seemed to be faring worse than larger ones, with seven in 10 reported bookings at lower levels than in a typical year, compared with six in 10 of larger charities.
Researchers said the drop in fundraising was reinforcing concerns about lost income at a time when many charities were reporting an increased demand for services, causing a capacity crunch across the sector.
Nearly half of charities have suffered a drop in income over the past year, while 53 per cent reported an increase in demand for their services.
Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the CFG, warned that the sector was not out of the woods yet and the effects of the pandemic were likely to be felt for years to come.
Jack Larkham, research and policy analyst at PBE, said: “With all the positive talk of the economy bouncing back strongly as the country moves on from the worst of the pandemic, the very real challenges facing the social sector risk being overlooked.
“To overcome these challenges, it is vital that more resources make their way into the social sector from government, existing funders and members of the public. In the long term, there needs to be a complete rethink of public policy to reverse the neglect the sector has suffered from over many years.”