Almost nine out of 10 charities have reported a rise in demand for their services during the past year and a similar proportion are expecting a further increase over the coming year, according to research by the charity chief executives body Acevo.
But only a third of respondents said they were confident that they would be able to meet the demand for their services, the research showed. Acevo surveyed 206 members and other selected senior charity leaders between February and March.
The most common reason that respondents gave for not being able to meet demand was a lack of funding. Other reasons included a lack of staff and volunteers.
About seven out of 10 of the charities surveyed said commercial costs had increased and 80 per cent reported rising direct costs across the board. Twenty-eight per cent of respondents said they had reduced services since 2012. Almost two thirds of respondents said that central government policy had had a negative effect on their work.
Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of Acevo, said: "Government cutbacks to charity support and infrastructure have placed many charities in serious jeopardy while at the same time the government is asking them to do more in order to support our welfare state," he said. "If as a society we fall off this cliff edge, millions of vulnerable people will suffer."
Acevo said the survey was the first in a series that would examine trends in the voluntary sector.
The chief executives body last month called for the government to create a "community recovery fund" to help voluntary sector organisations that have seen a "relentless upturn in the demand for their services".