As the economy is beginning to show tentative signs of recovery, the most pressing question on the minds of many in the charity sector is how this will impact on their organisations. Whilst during the recession the charity sector has proven itself to be both resilient and flexible in its battle to cope with increased demand and reduced funding; the impact of the economic downturn has been significant with charities experiencing challenges such as cuts in frontline staff, closure of services and a drop in donations.
The widespread effect of these tough economic times on the charity sector has been robustly reported on by the results of the Managing in a Downturn survey that CFG is now running in partnership with the Institute of Fundraising and PwC for the seventh successive year.
The first survey was launched at the start of the recession and has continued to measure its impact on the state of the charity sector through the eyes of nearly 500 fundraising and finance professionals in the field. By observing trends in charities’ financial behaviour, fears and expectations during these uncertain economic times, the research has revealed a sector in the midst of a significant transformation that is testing the morale, competence and energy of trustees and senior managers. Last year’s installment uncovered that more than two-thirds (67%) of charities said that demands on their services had increased while nearly half (42%) said they might have to dip into their cash reserves.
Here at CFG we are expecting this year’s Managing in a Downturn survey series to be the most interesting one yet as it probes whether this long-awaited upturn in the economy is filtering through to the charity sector. Although in recent months 2014 has been referred to as a potential turning point, even if we see the growth anticipated, ongoing cuts in public spending and negative headlines over the past year mean that times remain tough for many charities. These surveys are incredibly important in finding out what’s really happening on the ground and it will be interesting to see if things are looking up for charities or if they really are experiencing the much-reported lag in impact.
We urge all charities to take part in the survey, it doesn’t take any time to fill in – you can zip through it in ten minutes! The more responses we get, the better picture we will have to add to the growing body of evidence in this area and the better we can help support charities.
If you are in the media or a policy maker then please look out for the findings in Spring, if you are a charity then please ask your finance professionals to take part.
The survey can be found here and closes on Friday 14 February.