Loss of funding from the European Union could cost Oxfam £40m a year, the equivalent of 10 per cent of its annual income, according to Tim Hunter, its director of fundraising.
Speaking at the Institute of Fundraising Convention in London on Tuesday, Hunter said last month’s vote for the UK to leave the EU also meant that Oxfam’s programmes were now between 10 and 20 per cent more expensive because of the effect on exchange rates.
Hunter said the charity had received £40m from the EU in 2014/15 to tackle issues such as the refugee crisis, but it was uncertain if it would be able to access similar levels of funding in future, although there was a chance that it could if the UK remains part of the European Economic Area.
He said: "The foreign exchange situation continues to be bad. Most of our income is in either pounds or euros, and most of our expenditure is in dollars or closely related currencies, so somewhere between 10 and 20 per cent of the expenditure requirements in our programmes arrived last Thursday and look like they are here to stay."
He said this was going to eat into the charity’s reserves rapidly.
Hunter said he was also concerned that the heightened risk of a recession posed by Brexit could lead to large numbers of existing donors cancelling their direct debits with the charity.
It was also worrying, he said, that many of the people who voted for the country to leave the EU appeared to have a relatively low commitment to international aid when compared with the government, which is committed to spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on the area. "How significant a player is the UK going to be in terms of international development going forward?" he asked.