Northern Ireland charity leaders fear effect of no-deal Brexit on fundraising

A poll by CO3 and Ulster Bank finds that 76 per cent of them believe fundraising income would fall a little or a lot

More than three-quarters of voluntary sector leaders in Northern Ireland believe that a no-deal Brexit would lead to a fall in fundraising income, new research indicates.

The poll, conducted by the membership body CO3 and Ulster Bank, and published today, shows that charities in Northern Ireland continue to deal with increased demand for their services while facing financial pressures.

Seventy-six per cent of respondents said a no-deal Brexit would cause fundraising income to fall because of an economic downturn, with 37 per cent saying fundraised income would fall "a little" and 39 per cent expecting it would fall "a lot" under such circumstances.

Sixty-two per cent of respondents said a no-deal Brexit would threaten their cross-border collaborations, and 41 per cent said they were concerned it would affect their ability to recruit EU nationals.

Sixty-one per cent of respondents said demand for their charity’s services had increased over the past three months, whereas only 1 per cent said demand had fallen. Almost all the rest said it had remained unchanged.

More than half of the 101 leaders polled said their organisations were facing financial pressures, and 72 per cent of respondents said they thought political stability in Northern Ireland would worsen over the coming year.

Slightly more than four out of five respondents said they thought the economy in Northern Ireland would get worse over the coming year, with only 1 per cent expecting it would improve.

Nora Smith, chief executive of CO3, said last year was "one of demand for the third sector".

She said: "Uncertainty surrounding funding fashions an increasingly challenging environment for the sector to operate in.

"The final quarter of 2018 was less than ideal for the sector. The outlook for the year ahead is likely to follow suit as economic and political expectations dwindle."

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