A new study from OSCR has provided a snapshot of how the voluntary sector is continuing to respond to coronavirus
New research by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has revealed how organisations are coping with Covid-19.
Over 2,500 charities responded to the survey to help provide a snapshot of the impact of the pandemic on a large and representative cross section of Scottish charities. Carried out in November 2020, it builds on the comprehensive data gathered from OSCR’s first Covid-19 charity survey in May.
The majority of organisations (70%) said they have seen a negative impact on those they support as a result of Covid-19
The mental health and wellbeing effects of the pandemic and its associated restrictions were evident in the responses, with 51% of charities reporting increased loneliness and isolation and 43% reporting anxiety about the future as areas of concern for beneficiaries.
A third (30%) reported financial security as a threat for beneficiaries, with a quarter (24%) observing increased financial hardship and vulnerability. One third of charities (33%) reported that services to beneficiaries are currently disrupted due to Covid-19 and the restrictions
The new findings also provide detailed information on the significant financial impact of the pandemic on Scottish charity income:
- 79% of charities who receive income from donations and fundraising reported a decrease
- Lower trading income was reported by 83% of charities with this income source
- Grants and government funding was the least affected of the income streams tested, with a third (33%) seeing an increase and 29% a decrease for those with this income source.
One in ten charities (9%) reported a critical threat to their financial viability in the next 12 months, a decrease from 20% in May.
The data also shows that charities remain active in countering the effects of Covid-19. Eighty-four per cent of charities had taken action in the period from June to November 2020, with 43% adapting current services to respond to the restrictions. A quarter (25%) had applied for additional funding, while 37% used financial reserves.
Some charities did benefit from positive changes since the pandemic began, with 47% reporting improved use of digital technology among staff and volunteers.
OSCR has said it will continue to analyse the data to inform its work and to help others support the sector. Its research has been used to inform detailed work on volunteering, social enterprises and local support for the third sector.
Maureen Mallon, OSCR’s chief executive, said: "This information is crucial if we are to understand the impact of the pandemic on the resilience and sustainability of the charity sector.
"Charities play an essential role in Scottish society. They connect communities, provide help where it is needed most and make very significant contributions to Scotland’s economy. It is clear that some are suffering financially while trying their best to achieve their purpose.
"Recognising the role charities have played during the pandemic and securing widespread flexible support for the sector has never been more important than it is now."
Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations SCVO, said: “This research highlights the very real strain that Scottish charities and community organisations are under due to the impact of coronavirus.
"More than ever before people and families across Scotland are depending on the services and support the voluntary sector provides, and organisations are clearly struggling – the findings show that 37% of Scottish charities are using emergency savings and reserves to support those in need.
"We’re asking people to help support voluntary organisations in any way they can – through awareness-raising, donations, volunteering – to help ensure vital, never more needed community services can continue.”