Little faith among charities that government will value the sector's expertise in future crisis planning

Fewer than three in 10 charity leaders believe the government will value their expertise when it comes to future crisis planning, a new survey suggests.

A poll of UK charity chief executives conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation found 29 per cent thought their expertise would be seen as an important resource when it came to delivering insight and planning for the future.

The survey of 265 charity leaders, conducted in late July and early August, found that 41 per cent actively disagreed with the idea that government will see charities as an important source of insight in planning ahead for future crises. 

The remainder were either neutral or did not know. 

The research showed that 85 per cent of respondents agreed that charities would be expected to fill gaps in providing public services over the next five years.

Three in 10 said their normal grant funds had been frozen as grant funders shifted their focus to coronavirus relief efforts.

Half of this group said they had been unable to find enough grant funding to apply for in order to maintain their normal operations.

As most traditional face-to-face fundraising has collapsed, the report found 77 per cent of charity leaders said technological change was relevant to them, but only four in 10 said they had a specific strategy in place to deal with the demands of that change.

While most charity leaders – 57 per cent – thought the government viewed charities as vital connections to local communities, they did not expect that connection to translate into being given a seat at the table or influence longer-term planning.

Catherine Mahoney, research manager at CAF, said: “Charities know that they play a vital role in our society and many have been on the front lines of battling this pandemic.

“But the question remains as to whether or not that will lead to them being consulted on how we, as a society, can be best prepared for future shocks, be they health emergencies, economic hardships or even natural disaster responses.”

The survey also found that charities are increasingly concerned about the effects of Covid-19 on their volunteer numbers.

Slightly more than one-fifth listed volunteer engagement among the top three challenges their organisation faced, up significantly from seven per cent a year earlier.

“We know that charities rely on an army of volunteers and that Covid has meant that many older people who have volunteered their time in retirement have had to shield for many months,” said Mahoney.

"Charities are increasingly worried about how this will affect their ability to deliver services."

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