Over half (57%) of charities experienced an increase in demand for their services last month, according to NCVO's latest report.
The penultimate instalment of the Covid-19 Voluntary Sector Impact Barometer, compiled by NCVO, Nottingham Trent University and Sheffield Hallam University, studied the relationship between infrastructure bodies and charity infrastructure during the pandemic.
The research was collated from 43 qualitative interviews with infrastructure organisations, alongside the barometer survey which received responses from almost 350 infrastructure organisations.
The report builds upon survey data from the NCVO’s 12 previous waves of the project.
Anya Martin, research and insights manager at NCVO, said: “This month’s barometer shows how charities made use of support from infrastructure bodies throughout the pandemic, especially on matters relating to Covid-19 and health and safety. Infrastructure bodies play a crucial role providing advice and guidance to charities who may not always have the internal resource to stay on the front foot against a rapidly changing environment.”
Increase in demand for charitable and infrastructure services
Of the organisations surveyed, 50% of the frontline charities and 85% of infrastructure organisations thought the level of demand for support from infrastructure organisations increased since the start of the pandemic.
Some 54% of charities reported using the services provided by infrastructure bodies since the start of the pandemic, with 29% seeing an improved relationship with the body since March 2020. 32% saw no change, whereas 9% of charities reported a deterioration.
Similarly, 66% of the infrastructure organisations which responded to the survey experienced an increase in demand for its services since the beginning of the pandemic.
The demand for charity services is still set to increase, with 57% of charities reporting an increased demand for the charity's services last month.
Charities remain financially stable
Over half, 51%, of charities reported a stable financial position in November, with 64% expecting their organisation’s financial position to remain the same over the next month.
In fact, 17% expected its financial position to improve over the coming month.
Number of volunteers increases
In November 2021, 26% of charities saw an increase in volunteers and 30% expect an increase over the next month.
Half the respondents saw their volunteer numbers stay the same.
Concern about the future
Daniel King, professor of organisational behaviour at Nottingham Trent University and project lead, said: “The capacity of infrastructure organisations to respond to Covid-19 has been at the heart of much of the charity sector’s response to the pandemic.”
The report highlights that cuts to infrastructure funding in the past decade means that in some places the “landscape of support for the sector was fragmented and in some areas partnerships have been eroded away”.
Respondents were also worried about “looming budget cuts” for local councils, which they often rely on for funding.
One CEO of a local infrastructure organisation in England told the researchers: “We’re massively vulnerable because we are by the nature of the sort of CVS that we are, we have made a conscious decision that we will not compete to deliver services that our members deliver. So we simply do the core CVS functions and therefore, we are massively reliant on local government grants and contracts.”
King added: “The pandemic has also raised the profile of many infrastructure organisations with key stakeholders, which gives them more visibility and prominence. However the future is uncertain with core funding often difficult to get or maintain many infrastructure organisations are concerned about their future direction and capacity to deliver their central mission.”