Life After Lockdown: The Charity Sector

Whether it’s clapping for carers to celebrate our NHS Heroes or watching Captain Tom Moore raising money for NHS Charities, there has been no end of charitable gestures during the coronavirus pandemic.

However, research by the Institute of Fundraising highlights the true impact on the wider charity sector. The most notable statistics include:

  1. Charities are reporting a projected loss of 48% to their voluntary income, and a third wiped off from their total income
  2. 52% of charities have reduced existing or previous levels of service, with a further 12% intending to in the future.
  3. 83% say that the most important thing for their organisation’s sustainability over the coming 3 to 6 months is access to emergency grant funding.
  4. 84% of charities think their organisation could play a role in responding to the coronavirus outbreak, with the majority saying that government funding was needed to help them to do so.
  5. 91% of charities surveyed have already or expect to have their cash flow disrupted, with 62% indicating that these would result in reduced charitable activity. 

In light of these figures, the charity sector is likely to need ongoing life support in the months to come. We’ve been working hard during the pandemic to support charities and voluntary organisations across the East Midlands. Many other businesses and individuals have been doing the same. We were thrilled to work alongside the likes of the COVID-19 Mutual Aid Group, Leicestershire Cares and Age UK.

So what next for the charity sector?

Many charity shops have re-opened after introducing a number of new safety measures to protect customers and donors from the spread of coronavirus. This is at least some good news. 

Despite this much needed revival, the re-opening did lead to an influx of donations and many charities had to install a number of measures to safely combat this. 

Isolation of goods

A number of charities have announced that donated goods are to be isolated for a period of time, to reduce risk of contamination. This means charity shops have had to consider their available space and operate a staggered donation procedure.

Kate Avenell, head of shop development at Save the Children, said ahead of the June opening: “We have begun a phased approach to re-opening our shops across the UK, keeping the safety of our staff, volunteers and supporters at the forefront of our plans.”

Drive-thru

St Barnabas Hospice, which has 26 stores in Lincolnshire with a combined income of £16m over the last eight years, has responded to the pressure by introducing a “donation drive-thru” system. 

Caroline Peach, head of retail at St Barnabas Hospice, said: “Before we can open any of the shops, we need to reintroduce item donations at our warehouse in Lincoln.

“Plans are currently underway for a ‘book and bring’ donation drive-thru at the warehouse on Cardinal Close, which we are really excited about. People will be able to book a time slot to bring their donations and our car park has a fantastic one-way system so supporters can essentially use it like a drive-thru.” 

Protective screens and PPE

As with other retail stores, public facing charity outlets will need to protect staff. Protective screens may be implemented around the till area and additional volunteers may be needed to control the number of shoppers allowed indoors.

Charities may choose to provide staff with PPE such as face masks, particularly for those working in charity shops where social distancing is difficult. Gloves will also likely be in demand, particularly for those volunteers handling 

Funding revival

Over £8 billion per year is donated by the UK public to charities each year. While around a quarter of people give via the relatively secure route of direct debit, the pandemic will have a much greater effect on ad hoc cash donations, which remain a popular form of giving.

The same is true for public events. Sponsorship income traditionally rises in line with the better weather, with April to October the peak months, making the timing of the UK’s lockdown even more damaging. Virtual events and virtual fundraising gestures will require charities to become more creative than ever. They’ll also need to stand out in a crowded marketplace during an impending recession.

Additional volunteers

Many people will continue on furlough for a little while longer, so perhaps now is the time to consider how you can help charities and worthwhile causes in your area. Many smaller charities are crying out for support – and media attention, so do your research and find those that need help.

Here at Speedel, we’ll continue to support charities and local organisations serving the most vulnerable in their community. Call us on 0333 772 2021 or email talk@speedel.co.uk to see how we can help deliver essential items such as food, toiletries and other donations. We can also help with the delivery of PPE and safety items to charity shops.

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