As the coronavirus crisis shows no signs of a solution, two valuable surveys of UK charities have recently been published: “What does the future hold for fundraising in the UK?” from UK Fundraising; and ProBono Economics’ joint survey with the Chartered Institute of Fundraising and Charity Finance Group: “Weathering the storm: PBE Covid Charity Tracker.”

UK Fundraising’s document is useful not the least because they carried out a parallel survey in the USA – and are now engaging in a similar excise in the Netherlands. Their key findings in the UK were:

  • 66% of those surveyed were confident that their organisation would recover from the coronavirus crisis
  • 27% reported a decline in overall voluntary income; and 40% reported an increase in income
  • Of those with growing incomes, 61% said that hiring newly skilled staff was the main contributor to their financial growth. This is an interesting statistic, given that we are surrounded by media reports of charities furloughing staff or making them redundant.

Interestingly, 23% of those surveyed were reasonably confident that philanthropy would grow overall during the next 3 years; whilst the remaining 77% thought it would stay the same, or shrink. UK Fundraising’s survey in the USA provided statistics which were the reverse of those in the UK; in the USA, experts were more bullish. Part of this optimism is likely to be underscored by the American tax system which is generally more favourable to donors than is ours.

ProBono Economics’ survey covered a wider canvass than just fundraising, with results which are perhaps more pessimistic than those provided by UK Fundraising. PBE’s survey showed that:

  • 85% of UK charities expect a negative financial impact as a result of the coronavirus crisis
  • 70% think it will take more than a year for pre-coronavirus income levels to be restored
  • 65% expect demand for their services to increase
  • 58% of charities expect to scale back their provision.

More worryingly, 65% have furloughed staff; 19% have made redundancies, rising to 24% among medium and large size charities; and 24% (30% among medium/large charities) expect to shed more staff once the Job Retention Scheme ends.

So is there more doom and gloom than hope ? We certainly should not underestimate the negative effects of the coronavirus crisis – but nor should we lack confidence in the British ability to survive and bounce back. Watch this space in 6 months’ time!