Paid staff numbers at small charities steady as demand for services booms, says FSI research

The charity's Small Charity Index, a quarterly tracking survey, says paid staff numbers stayed level in the three months to December last year, but demand for services has increased by a third

Small charities: demand for services booming
Small charities: demand for services booming

Paid staff numbers at small charities have remained at a standstill while demand for their services has grown, according to research from the FSI, a charity that supports small charities.

According to the latest edition of the FSI’s quarterly tracking survey, The Small Charity Index, released to coincide with Small Charity Week, respondents reported that their paid staff numbers were broadly unchanged in the three months to December 2014.

But the survey shows that demand for the services of small charities, defined as those with annual incomes of less than £1.5m, increased by almost a third during the 18 months from June 2013.

Volunteer numbers among participating charities, which had annual incomes of less than £1.5m, also increased substantially over the same period, and were approximately 14 per cent above their level in June 2013, the survey says.

A question focusing on the views of respondents on the likelihood of their charities closing in the next 12 months found that they became more pessimistic as 2014 progressed.

Three-quarters rated their chances of closure at three out of 10 or lower; only 6 per cent rated their chances at eight out of 10 or more.

The report on the latest results says: "As a sector, our instinct is to protect front-line service delivery at all costs, which is precisely why reserves are increasingly being used as a cost-management and cash-flow tool.

"But trustees, who govern charities, are under no illusion – this state of affairs cannot continue and, if they cannot significantly diversify their funding, identifying new income streams into their charities, their long-term sustainability is in jeopardy."

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