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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.

Bleak midwinter for charities after fundraising collapse

 

Christmas was tough - and job and service cuts could be the result

The coronavirus has caused a winter of discontent for many charities, a survey has revealed.

Cancellation of events and the closure of charity shops across the country drove a steep drop in fundraising income for some organisations over the final months of 2020.

Pro Bono Economics (PBE) conducted a study in partnership with Charity Finance Group and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising.

It showed that small charities found raising money over the Christmas period particularly tough, with one in five (20%) reporting that their incomes during November and December last year were less than half what they would expect pre-pandemic.

Overall, almost half (46%) of charities raised less over the final two months than they did over the same time period in 2019.

PBE estimates that this loss is likely to amount to at least £200 million.

The caveat for Scotland is that these are cross-UK figures – the study does not provide Scotland results.

However, the impacts are likely to be reflected in every part of the UK.

This latest blow to charity finances has left many organisations in the sector warning further cuts to both jobs and services are imminent.

A quarter (25%) of charities that experienced income drops over the festive period say additional cost-saving measures will be required in the coming months, with the same proportion (27%) saying it means they’ll be less sustainable in the long-term.

One in five (19%) charities that reported a drop in income over November and December say they are expecting to have to reduce their staff numbers in the months ahead. Previous research has indicated that frontline service roles are some of the most likely to be lost, and current PBE estimates are that 60,000 jobs will be lost from the charity sector over the course of the pandemic.

It is inevitable that further cuts will affect how much help can be given to people who rely on charity services, with economists labelling the present situation a ‘capacity crunch’, where need is outweighed by provision. 42% of charities say they are going to have difficulty meeting demand for their services over the coming months.

Social distancing and lockdown measures have been key drivers of the funding loss charities have experienced over the winter period. 28% of charities say they raised less from their fundraising events in November-December last year than usual, and 26% say they raised less from their retail activities.

Anoushka Kenley, research and policy director at PBE, said: “Months of stunted fundraising and depleted reserves have taken their toll on the charity sector. With these figures indicating another income loss in the region of the hundreds of millions, it is only a matter of time before we see more reports of service cuts and job losses for this sector, which is a vital source of services and support for the vulnerable.

“The Christmas period is a crucial one for charities, and while the public has been generous, donations haven’t made up for the drops in income from fundraising and sales of cards and clothes. After almost a year in crisis mode and with a capacity crunch underway, getting additional resources into this vital sector has to be a priority for the chancellor as the budget approaches.”

 

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