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Pandemic sees sharp decline in charity leaders’ confidence about future income

Pandemic sees sharp decline in charity leaders’ confidence about future income

Confidence in the future income of charities and community organisations has fallen sharply among their leaders since the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, a new survey shows.

The Community Foundation Tyne & Wear and Northumberland and St Chad’s College, Durham University surveyed over 400 leaders of charities and community organisations across England and Wales.

56% of third sector leaders surveyed in June expect their income from a range of sources to fall over the next two years: up from 16% in 2019.

Around two thirds – 62% – expect income from private sector sources to fall. In 2019, only 11% of expected this to be the case.

Half of the leaders surveyed also believe grant income will decrease over the next two years, compared with 19% in 2019, while 61% think statutory funding would decrease, up from 38% in 2019.

Expectations about volunteer support has also changed: in 2019 8% of leaders thought this would fall. Now 18% of think this will be the case.

The survey follows Community Foundation and St Chad’s College’s 2019 Third Sector Trends research and set out to see how attitudes about future prospects for third sector organisations had changed, and provide an opportunity for leaders to talk about how the pandemic was affecting them now or might do so in the future.

However, despite the pessimism over future income, the survey also reveals some optimism over the sector’s resilience among respondents’ comments.

Professor Tony Chapman, Director of Research at St Chad’s College, who authored the original reports and this follow up said:

“At the moment, leaders of third sector organisations are feeling pretty nervous about the future – and with good reason. There are so many unknowns about income levels, availability of volunteers, the conditions under which organisations will be allowed to work and the change in demand for services. We are all guessing what will happen next. Yes, it is clear that confidence but the individual comments suggest a good deal of variation in attitudes ranging from strong optimism to outright pessimism – while others present ambivalent feelings. What this report does do is provide us with a very useful baseline with which to compare when Third Sector Trends surveying resumes in mid-2022.”

Rob Williamson, Chief Executive of the Community Foundation, which commissions Third Sector Trends added:

“When we launched the 2020 edition of Third Sector Trends in May we knew the data would need to be updated because of the pandemic. We can’t say whether the fears of organisations surveyed the organisations will come to pass but the data gives us a benchmark for when we come back in 2022 and find out whether this lack of confidence was misplaced.”

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com.

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