When I sat down one year ago and wrote about the “winds of change” in my first leader as editor of Charity Finance, I could scarcely have begun to imagine how much all our lives would have changed in the next 12 months. The pandemic and the steps to contain it have dominated all our lives. And, as much as we may wish otherwise, most of the changes that coronavirus has led to are going to be with us for some time. It is going to be a difficult winter for many, especially those living in the worst hit areas of the country who will be living under the harshest restrictions, and for those that have lost their jobs or fear they will do so.
This means, as has been said here and elsewhere many times, the need for charities has arguably never been greater. But for many within the sector, operating during the pandemic has been hard.
What is positive to read is how well their finance teams seem to have adapted. According to the survey we held to mark Charity Finance Week Online (which runs from 23 to 27 November), whilst there have been difficulties, the important work has continued.
Of course, the longer the restrictions are in place the harder things will become, especially as the government’s furlough scheme comes to an end and is replaced with a much more limited support package. The longer-term economic impact still remains to be seen too, but is likely to have consequences long after restrictions are lifted.
Nor do the survey findings negate the very real difficulties that many charities have faced as their income streams have dried up, or the pain and sadness of redundancies across the sector. These job losses will continue, and is an unwelcome truth that some charities are likely to be forced to close.
Faced with these realities, it can sometimes seem difficult to be optimistic. But our survey shows the resilience and dedication of charity finance professionals. In these troubled times, you and your teams are striving hard to find new ways of working to ensure that as many charities as possible make it through the pandemic, and can help those that need it the most.
Charity Finance Week Online will look further at how finance teams have worked during the crisis and how they are building back. Find more details here.
Tristan Blythe, editor, Charity Finance