Half of charities say they have improved transparency, says report

Caron Bradshaw of the Charity Finance Group says the latest Managing in a Downturn study shows that many charities still face threats to stability and sustainability

Caron Bradshaw
Caron Bradshaw

Almost half of charities have improved their transparency after negative media coverage of the charity sector over the past year, according to a report published today.

Managing in the New Normal is the seventh in a series of Managing in a Downturn reports produced each year by the Charity Finance Group, the Institute of Fundraising and the professional services firm PwC.

Forty-nine per cent of more than 450 charity fundraisers and finance professionals who took part in the survey said that they had taken steps to improve their transparency and the disclosure of financial information during the past year.

The two most popular areas for which charities said that they would be trying to improve transparency in the forthcoming year were administration and governance costs (45 per cent), and fundraising costs (43 per cent).

Ninety per cent of respondents said they felt the sector "had fallen under a negative spotlight" during a year in which there had been negative reports about chief executive salaries and the Cup Trust scandal, and in which questions were raised about the right of charities to campaign as the lobbying bill passed through parliament and became an act.

About a fifth of respondents said that the increased scrutiny had a negative impact on their fundraising and 87 per cent said they expected more media scrutiny and interest in the coming year.

The report says that although optimism in the sector increased over the period, 77 per cent of respondents reported that fundraising had been tougher and two-thirds said that demand for their services had increased.

To keep their services running, almost a third of charities said they had plans to use their reserves and a further 23 per cent were considering this option.

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of CFG, said: "The survey shows that many in the sector still face threats to their stability and sustainability. With the general election just over a year away, we will continue to press the government and opposition parties to recognise the long-term issues that need to be addressed if the sector is to continue to play its vital role in society."

The report was based on an online questionnaire answered by CFG and IoF members between March and April this year.

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