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Nine in ten charities will struggle to meet objectives due to Covid-19, poll finds 

01 May 2020 News

Most charities say Covid-19 is having a negative impact on their ability to meet their objectives, with 44% saying they have drawn on reserves, a survey has found.

Pro Bono Economics is conducting a weekly tracker to find out how coronavirus is affecting charities. This week, 92% said coronavirus has had a negative impact on their ability to meet their charity objectives over the next six months.

The survey was open on 28 and 29 April and 433 respondents participated. 

Nearly half (48%) said their level of concern was broadly unchanged over the past seven days, but 44% said that their expectations had deteriorated. 

Social distancing and its impact on being able to deliver services was cited as the biggest issue they were facing, with 39% saying it was a challenge. Some 31% said fundraising was the single biggest issue and 21% said it was uncertainty about being able to plan for the future. 

Taking action 

Nearly all of those polled said they had taken action. Some 57% said this involved reducing activity and the same figure also said they had used the government’s furlough scheme. 

Half have sought flexibility from funders and 44% have already drawn down on their financial reserves.

For now, just one-fifth (19%) said they’d applied for support from the government’s £750m charity-specific package.

When asked to rate the sufficiency of the government’s financial support (where 1 = entirely insufficient and 10 = entirely sufficient), the average score across all respondents was 4.3. Nearly three-quarters (71%) scored the response at five or below. 

‘We all risk being worse off’ 

Pro Bono Economics warned of the long-term consequences of a reduction in charitable activity. 

Chief executive Matt Whittaker said: “These findings highlight the very considerable pressures being faced across charities and civil society organisations right now.” 

He added: “The fact that well over half of the charities filling in our survey say they’ve reduced their activity in a significant way in response to the financial challenges posed by Covid-19 is a finding that should concern all of us. 

“We know that the support provided by civil society groups has major benefits for our society and for our economy. If such support is being scaled back – or even withdrawn altogether – then it is some of the most vulnerable in society who will be hardest hit. Ultimately, however, we will all be worse off as a result.”

Next week’s survey will take place on 5 and 6 May. 

Civil Society Media is a communications partner for the survey 

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