Volunteering Matters – the volunteering charity previously known as CSV – saw staff numbers fall by a third in its most recent accounting period, as it worked to manage a £5.8m deficit in free reserves.
The charity’s most recent accounts, for the eight-month period to March 2015, show that the shortfall in its free reserves is due to the deficit in its defined benefit pension scheme, which increased from £6.7m to £10.5m over the period.
Average full-time equivalent staff numbers was 209 during that period, compared to 314 in the previous period. A plan for this level of reduction was first announced in March 2014.
Income excluding property sales was £6.2m, compared to £13.9m in the preceding 12 months – a like-for-like drop of 33 per cent.
The charity also sold off two properties in Bromley and Southwark for a total of £921,000 of additional funds.
The charity reached its height in 2011, when annual income was £33m. Since the start of that year it has changed its name, has seen the departure of two chief executives, the second along with several other members of its senior team, and sold off a number of its properties in an effort to ensure it can meet its debts.
Trustees said in their annual report that despite the reserves deficit they were confident the charity could continue as a growing concern.
“The trustees have concluded that the most appropriate measure of reserves for Volunteering Matters is by reference to the charity’s liquidity position,” the annual report says. “Negative accounting reserves are likely given the size of the current pensions deficit.”
The report said its target was to have “cash and readily realisable assets sufficient to fund the cost of running Volunteering Matters for six months” as well as cover for the next instalment of deficit repayments on the pension.
At present the charity holds £2.6m in cash, about half what would be required to meet this policy. However the charity plans to sell two further properties in Islington and Cardiff to increase the funds available.
The charity said that pension deficits were the top risk to its future sustainability.
Volunteering Matters is a member of the London Borough of Islington pension scheme, and has obligations of £49.3m and assets of £38.9m.
The charity closed the scheme to future accruals by existing members during the accounting period.