Will Charities Survive The Coronavirus Pandemic?

The Charity Sector During COVID-19

It’s a complicated question, but the answer’s pretty simple. Not without help, and not without people making a conscious effort to contribute and/or volunteer time to their local charitable organisations. The impact of COVID-19 will have a long-lasting effect, especially on small charities. Charities face a tough time, and it’s important we help financially support them if we can.

Funding Struggles

A number of charities are showing the struggle of funding and operating right now. Even though there are many issues, many charities show strength to not fall and somehow find a way to raise funds and provide for the services.

For all charities, this is the most challenging period in living memory, and we’ll need to quickly adapt. From adapting new techniques to fundraise, there are many ways you can still support charities through this difficult period.

Some things you may want to consider to survive this global pandemic include: –

  •         Identifying levers of change for your charity
  •         Responding to the needs of communities
  •         Re-imagining what recovery could look like

Appreciating The Little Things

Known and important organisations are facing a severe downfall and risking collapse. Unfortunately, there aren’t many groups that raise funds they require during this global lockdown. This has affected how people look and view charitable groups, appreciating those little things. Will this truly be our new normal?   

We are now lifting our lockdown restrictions with the re-opening of shops and many other non essential stores, but there are some of us – the lucky ones who can do so, still working from home during this coronavirus crisis. The latest UK Giving survey with the general public conducted at the end of May* showed that a large number of people (41%) have experienced a decrease in their disposable incomes and almost half (45%) are worried about their household income over the next six months. Logic would dictate that with this backdrop, all UK Charities are likely to see continuing changes in giving to charity by individuals.

Change In Donations

Not surprisingly based on what’s happened, the types of charities people have been giving to have changed dramatically. In March and April, UK Giving registered huge levels of support for NHS charities, with 40% and 42% of people who were intending to donate, or had already donated, to charitable organisations during this time indicating that they were respectively intending to donate to this cause as a result of the pandemic in the next 3 months. As time has moved on, and as we exit lockdown and begin this healing process, it’s expected that this trend will reverse back to the normal pattern of giving….how long that takes, and what the % splits are for the rest of this year, still remain to be seen however. 

We know from our own experience that, in every circumstance except the most dire, people across the UK will continue to donate to local charities, even in the midst of the pandemic; providing that lockdown continues to ease and we don’t see a second wave.

Long Term Impact Of COVID-19

It’s too early to know what the long term impact of the Coronavirus outbreak and a near 4-month halt to all economic activity across the whole world, not just the whole of the UK, will be in how we give and what we give to. Given these unprecedented times, historical giving trends may not help us understand what will happen over the coming months and years.

One immediate aspect has been obvious in the past few months, people across the UK have less disposable income and worry more about their personal finances. With this backdrop, it is not of surprise to know that more than half of charities (~53%) reported a drop in donations when asked by UK Giving towards the end of May.

For some Charities, Spring and Summer this year has been the nightmare scenario of increased demand at a time of reduced income. Indeed, several sources estimate that fully half of all charities in the UK said they had sought or received some form of emergency grant funding to get them through the pandemic.

How Charities Are Adapting

We are, however, seeing that charities are trying to adapt to the current situation and there’s been some really impressive stories we’ve been hearing of how they are doing this, whether it be finding alternative ways of delivering their services, or teaming up with other charities, businesses and civic partners.  

Some Charities have adapted more completely, by refocusing the charity’s activities entirely – often to food or similar support packages to needy and vulnerable groups within their societies, and all of these have done so by developing new collaborations with other organisations or groups of people.

No matter what, you can bet that these Charities will continue to adapt and hopefully thrive in our new world. After all, where there becomes an increased demand for a particular type of service, such as meals on wheels to vulnerable members of society, it’s fairly normal for a Charity to spring into action to cover that need.

We as a country are not likely to be going back to the way things were anytime soon, and so, of course, neither will the charities. Adaptation to survive – humankind’s greatest evolutionary trick, is evident in the small and medium sized charitable organisations across the whole of the UK as a consequence of our undimmed spirit and unquenchable need to help those around us.