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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Adapting and surviving: charities rebound across Europe

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New report looks at the state of the sector across the continent

Charitable income is on the rise across Europe as organisations continue to adapt and innovate to overcome the challenges of the global pandemic.

This is according to continent-wide research carried out by the European Fundraising Association and

Based on a survey of 480 charities and nonprofits across Europe, the 2021 Nonprofit Pulse Report reveals that two in three respondents expect their total income in 2021 to exceed or match income from last year. 

Although half of respondents had to cancel or postpone fundraising activities during the year, charities innovated and diversified, ramping up their use of digital.

More than two in five respondents reported a rise in individual giving over the past year, with one in four saying donation levels were stable. As demand for services continues to rise and social distancing restricts face-to-face outreach, over half (55%) have developed new ways to deliver their mission and reach beneficiaries. 

However, the report exposes concerns about rising workloads and increased pressure on nonprofit staff. A second year of lockdowns, remote working, cancelled fundraising events, barriers to service delivery and a general climate of uncertainty is taking its toll on the sector’s workforce. 

When asked to identify the biggest challenges facing their nonprofit now, the ability to manage workload topped the list, cited by more than half of respondents (52%). Four in 10 report that staff and volunteers are more stressed than they were pre-pandemic.

As nonprofits continue to adapt to new ways of working and often longer task lists, sector capacity is being stretched. One in three representatives report a drop in volunteers and 1 in 5 a reduction in staff. 

Eduard Marček, former president of the European Fundraising Association and Head of the Slovak Fundraising Centre, said: “Nonprofits have proved themselves to be hugely resilient and agile, but this cannot come at the expense of the sector’s workforce; the people who work so hard to protect good causes and the most vulnerable communities around us. 

“Remote working, reduced staff and volunteer capacity, restricted budgets and higher demand for services are all adding to the challenge of managing workload in an ever-changing environment.

“The biggest challenge ahead of us now surely is not only how to survive and thrive through the next phase of the pandemic, but how best to support and nurture our people and ease workloads. It’s no easy feat but protecting our people has never been more important.”

Digital has become critical for fundraising and service delivery in a socially-distanced world, but the shift in channels comes alongside a renewed focus on relationship building and supporter care, which are taking a front seat in fundraising strategies.

Half of respondents say they are increasing their focus on supporter retention, and one in three say their supporter relationships have strengthened during the pandemic.

View the report here.