Nine in 10 charities in England and Wales do not expect to make redundancies in the next year

More than nine in 10 charities in England and Wales do not plan to make any staff redundant in the next 12 months, according to new research.

The Covid-19 Survey 2021, published by the Charity Commission, found that nearly all charities (91 per cent) have experienced some negative impact from Covid-19.

Most charities made limited redundancies and their use of the furlough scheme was mixed, as 43 per cent of more than 1,900 respondents revealed that about 75 per cent of their staff had been placed on furlough at some point.

The majority of charities made less than one-quarter of their staff redundant, and 91 per cent of charities do not plan to make any staff redundant in the next 12 months.

But the survey shows that the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic have been wide-ranging and often severe, spanning service delivery, financial, frustration and uncertainty.

The pandemic has predominantly affected charities’ services and delivery (85 per cent), alongside their financial position and staffing and governance.

Nearly three-fifths of respondents reported planned work and events being cancelled, a majority have lost income from charitable activities (60 per cent) and nearly half of the charities have lost income from fundraising.

Access to volunteers, according to the research, has decreased for nearly one-third of charities and increased slightly for only five per cent of those surveyed.

Charities said they had been frustrated by the uncertainty about when their operations could return to some “normality” and many actively tried to counter the impact of Covid-19 by adapting their services.

The most common action taken by charities was adapting their services in light of restrictions (45 per cent), followed by using financial reserves and even pausing operations temporarily.

While lockdown restrictions resulted in less emphasis on in-person events and cash donations, and presented other significant challenges, researchers found the positive changes made had resulted in some benefits.

For example, half of charities have made better use of digital technology.

But many still have concerns about their funding and future viability.

More than one-third expect to generate less revenue from fundraising and donations in 2022, and more than 60 per cent anticipate a threat to their charity’s financial viability in the next 12 months.

Some charities have already accessed funding support, with one-fifth coming from Local Authorities and 14 per cent using national government funding.

But more respondents would appreciate further clarity on where to find it and often suggest that the commission could do more to help charities access funding.

In a blog post published alongside the research findings, the commission said: “The resulting message for trustees and senior leaders is not new, but is perhaps even more important in the face of significant external challenge: ensure you are always led by your charity’s purposes, and the best interests of those you exist to serve.

“Don’t avoid or delay tough decisions, but know that how you make them – how you behave and communicate along the way – can be as important as what action you choose.”

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