Latest research reveals that a period of relative stability
for the third sector appears to be coming to an end, but
that there are ways in which charities can prepare to cope
with a possible recession.
The sixth edition of the Voluntary Sector Strategic
Analysis, analyses the changing shape of the voluntary
sector within civil society during 2008/09 and examines
the trends within the service deliver and operating environment.
The key trends include: changing participation both within
organisations and more widely within the wider community;
changing patterns of distribution and consumption; the economy;
and the impact of national politics on the future of the
Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said: "Charities
that are versatile, willing to adapt, and consider all the
options available to them, should be able cope with the
extra challenges posed by the credit crunch and survive
“We need to encourage people to carry on giving to
charity, because many worthy causes are supporting those
most affected by the credit crunch and demand for their
services is likely to increase as a result.”
The report examines key ‘drivers for change’
- forces or trends - that will shape the future of the voluntary
sector and the whole of civil society going forward, in
preparation for the next General Election in 2010.
For example, the final chapter identifies a number of risks
and opportunities for the sector, including the danger that
with a recession, public attitudes towards the voluntary
sector may harden, if consumers fail to see the value it
provides during an economic downturn.
On the positive side, a recession could also represent
an opportunity for the sector to work actively with Government
to try and change public perception.
Karl Wilding, head of research at NCVO, added: “In
previous years, the report has focused on a rapidly expanding
sector operating within a relatively benign environment.
What is now clear is that change is in the air and the clear
challenge to the Voluntary sector now, is to plan for and
respond to these changes.
“The underlying current of many strategic plans being
written should be about building resilience through control
of costs and retaining current resources, rather than expansion.
In other words, hang onto the gains – especially the
cash – of the last decade.”
The report includes a short user-friendly guide at the
end, specially designed to help organisations plan ahead
and better understand how to make strategic choices and
engage with the external environment.
Voluntary Sector Strategic Analysis is available to order,
priced £25, from www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/publications