Almost half of international aid charities expect to make redundancies, survey warns

08 Oct 2020 News

Funding cuts mean international development charities face challenging times, with nearly half of respondents to a Bond survey saying their organisation is likely to shrink.

Bond, an umbrella body for NGOs, warned yesterday that 46% of survey respondents have either made, or are likely to make, staff redundant. 

It also said Covid-19, Brexit, the UK recession and cuts to official development assistance risk pushing 48% of NGOs towards ceasing some operations.

The survey was conducted at the beginning of October and was completed by 93 organisations. This was comprised of 35 small organisations with annual income below £2m, 39 medium-sized organisations with between £2m and £20m, and 19 large organisations with over £20m.

Jobs at risk

Jobs that seem to be especially at risk are those involved in programme delivery, which have already been cut by 53% of organisations, admin and finance, which have been cut by 51% of organisations, and public fundraising, which have been cut by 41% of organisations.  

UK-based roles, junior roles and fixed-term contracts look set to be most affected.

Despite 49% of organisations making use of the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, only 11% said they would be making use of the successor Job Support Scheme once the furlough scheme finishes at the end of October.

These findings echo announcements which have come from the sector in recent months. 

For example, hundreds of jobs are under threat at Oxfam GB, as the charity tries to find £16m in annual savings. The decision covers around one in 10 people currently employed at the charity. 

Multiple roles at Plan International UK are also at risk, after the charity confirmed it is consulting on redundancies in response to the coronavirus crisis.

A spokesperson for the global development charity previously said: “Though the effects of Covid-19 are still unfolding, we are already seeing the damaging impact on the economy. Faced with such uncertainty, we must take steps now to reduce our costs.”

Both Save the Children and ActionAid launched coronavirus emergency appeals, with the former aiming to raise $100m globally in its biggest appeal ever. 

Income decline

Of those surveyed by Bond, 65% expect their income to fall in 2021-22, with more than a quarter anticipating that their income will fall by at least 20% in 2021-22.

The survey suggests that small and medium NGOs are most at risk, with only 29% of small NGOs saying they expect to continue operating beyond the next two years, and only 64% of medium NGOs reporting that they have enough funds to operate beyond 2022.

However, larger organisations are also at risk, with only 74% able to confirm their ability to operate beyond the next two years.

A separate survey from the Small International Development Charities Network (SIDCN) found that half of the UK’s small charities working with the world’s poorest people expect to close within the next 12 months due to lack of financial support.

Despite most of them seeing a spike in demand for their services during Covid-19, 15% of the charities will be forced to shut their doors within the next six months, and 45% within a year.

'Millions of people have been pushed even closer to the edge by this pandemic'

Bond is now calling on the UK government to create a £10m fund to help small NGOs. 

Stephanie Draper, chief executive of Bond, said: “The whole world is facing difficult times ahead, and this survey gives us a stark and clear picture of what’s to come for both NGOs and the communities they help. Millions of people have been pushed even closer to the edge by this pandemic. They depend on NGOs, in the UK and internationally, for the basics – clean water, healthcare, sanitation and food.

“Small NGOs are particularly vulnerable. We would ask that the government set up a £10m relief fund to help small NGOs so that they can continue to support their local partners and the communities they work with. If we don’t, we risk losing both specialist organisations, but also charities that are the heart of local communities across the UK.”

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