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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.

“Deeply concerned”: New report warns of grave fears of charity leaders


The Cranfield Trust’s research saw over 70 charities feed into fresh research.

Charity leaders are fearful for the future of vital frontline work across Scotland amid ongoing crises, a new report has found. 

Research published by the Cranfield Trust on Tuesday warned that social welfare charities are facing growing pressures from funding to capacity as costs continue to rise, and staff are increasingly under pressure. 

The report, ‘Demand, Change, Survival’, underlines the challenges facing charity leaders in Scotland, which mirrors what has been reported from charity leaders across the UK. 

In the survey conducted during December 2022, Cranfield Trust heard directly from over 70 charity leaders in Scotland about the impact the cost of living crisis is having on them, their charities and their beneficiaries. 

The survey insights reinforce what other organisations across the sector have reported but highlight the stark position of many frontline charities. 

These included existing challenges of running and managing organisations in the voluntary sector being amplified - from overstretched staff to capacity and capability issues in charities’ governance and leadership. 

Charity leaders also identified an increasingly competitive context for fundraising as well as funding processes placing additional pressure on stretched charities, and the negative impact of this on innovation and strategic planning. 

The need for more effective collaboration between the charity sector, local and national government and the commercial sectors, was also outlined. 

The challenge is summed up by one respondent to the survey, who said: “We only support women not able to access services and who are at risk or who have children at risk. This means that if we don't keep them safe they have nobody else to turn to.  

“Demand in Glasgow has almost quadrupled and almost doubled in Edinburgh. We lost 80% of our funding at the end of March 2020 due to Brexit and various [reasons].  We can't recruit enough childcare staff to respond to demand.”

Cranfield Trust heard that while charity leaders are determined to keep going, they are fearful for their future and that of their beneficiaries.  

They are finding the increased demands on their services and burdensome funding and commissioning requirements overwhelming, and are asking funders and commissioners to reconsider their funding models. 

Charity leaders are now calling on Government to recognise the valuable contribution and support charities are giving to the public sector. 

In response to the findings, Cranfield Trust has outlined advice to charity leaders to support them in overcoming the management challenges they are facing

Amanda Tincknell CBE, Cranfield Trust CEO, said: “We are deeply concerned about what we have heard from charity leaders through our survey, which reflects what we are hearing across the country. The challenges faced by the sector need to be tackled urgently and at scale. 

“We accept that funders and government at all tiers have limited funds, their own objectives, and the need to set criteria to access these funds.  

“However, we feel that it’s vital for all of us supporting the sector to continue to find ways of working that are less demanding on the resources of often small organisations. We support and would like to encourage better dialogue between the charity sector, corporate sector and local and national government.

“There is much that can be done practically to support charity leaders now to help them continue to develop their organisations and services to meet the increasing demands of their beneficiaries. We work with thousands of charities every year to provide management consultancy, mentoring, peer support and telephone advice and are supporting charity leaders with practical and, sometimes, emotional support to get them through this difficult period of time.

“We are ready and willing to engage with the sector in Scotland to tackle these intrinsic challenges, and support leaders and managers to address their challenges, whilst also using our insight and influence to address the long-term issues.”



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