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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.

Research reveals climate crisis concerns for charity leaders


Their greatest worry is the financial impact on service users

Three quarters (75%) of sector leaders are concerned about the impact of climate change on their charity.

Findings from the specialist insurer Ecclesiastical’s third Charity Risk Barometer reveal climate change and its impact is a major concern at leadership level.

The barometer is an in-depth study exploring the immediate and emerging risks facing the charity sector.

Over 250 charities were surveyed and asked about the issues affecting their charity they were most concerned about.

With a backdrop of the cost of living crisis and spiralling costs caused by inflation, the main challenges facing charities related to financial pressures. However, concerns over the impact of climate change ranked not far behind.

When asked how concerned they were about the impact of climate change on their charity, three in four (75%) said they were concerned with nearly one in five (19%) of those very concerned.

The greatest concerns cited by charity leaders were the financial impact (56%), the impact on service users (51%), storm damage to property (33%) and closures as a result of extreme weather (30%).

Almost a quarter (24%) said they were worried about the potential impact on staff safety with one in five (21%) were concerned about flooding – an issue that has reared its head during a stormy winter season.

Charities are taking proactive steps to help tackle climate change themselves, in particular reducing their carbon footprints.

More than two in five (44%) of charities said they had made energy efficiency changes, with a third (34%) reducing their use of single use plastic in the workplace.

Using more energy efficient office spaces (27%), switching to renewable energy suppliers (21%) and only using suppliers with good green credentials (16%) were some of the other steps being taken.

Only one in five (19%) charities reported that they were not taking any steps to reduce their carbon footprint, however this increased to almost half (46%) when asked about their plans to be Net Zero.

When asked why they had no plans in place to hit Net Zero two in five (40%) said they had no time or resource to devote to it, while over a third (35%) cited a lack of knowledge and a quarter (25%) were concerned about the costs associated with making the move.

Laura Carter, customer segment director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “These are challenging times for charities and it’s absolutely understandable that sustainability and Net Zero are not at the top of priority lists. But acting on climate change is a responsibility we all share and there’s a great deal charities of any size can do to reduce their carbon footprint, with either a small investment or no financial outlay at all. In many cases, sustainable measures take little more than a good plan and an organisation-wide commitment to seeing it through.

“We want to support charities through all of the challenges cited in our Charity Risk Barometer. As a leading insurer of charities in the UK our ambition is to be a strategic partner to the charity sector. Our research and the resources we have available can not only help customers identify and manage their risks but also deliver solutions for the longer term. Our message to charities is that we are here to help them navigate this new normal, they don’t have to face these challenges alone.”

Ecclesiastical’s parent company, Benefact Group, also offers funding to charities through its annual Movement for Good Awards – including £5,000 grants to charities working to protect the environment.

One suggested starter point for charities is to begin measuring their carbon footprint. Almost three in five (59%) said that they don’t measure their carbon footprint, putting them on a back foot when looking to make positive changes.

To get started on their carbon footprint reduction plans charities are encouraged to use online services to measure the current footprint to build a baseline and help to set targets.

Read the full findings of the Charity Risk Barometer at



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