Over half of local charities predict their demise within five years

Less than half of local charities are confident they will survive beyond five years due to a huge imbalance between time and resources, a new report has revealed.

The Local Charity and Community Group Sustainability Report, published by Localgiving and Sage Foundation, found many local charities and community groups are stretched to “breaking point” following a number of cuts and austerity measures that have increased burden on small charities.

Over 686 people from local charities and community groups responded to the survey, but just 47 per cent said they were confident of survival past five years.

Meanwhile, 78 per cent of groups reported an increase in demand for their services over the past 12 months, 85 per cent of which predict a further increase in demand over the coming year. However, just 14 per cent feel sufficiently resourced to meet it.

The report revealed organisations working in areas affected by cuts in public services, welfare reforms and the wider impact of austerity have been most affected – 93 per cent of respondents working in homelessness or providing counselling services have experienced an increase in demand.

Figures also found 71 per cent of respondents are concerned their organisation does not have the requisite skills to run a successful fundraising campaign.

On the topic of Brexit, just 2 per cent of local groups in the UK said they feel Brexit will have a positive impact on their organisation.

In Northern Ireland, 64 per cent of groups said they thought Brexit would have a negative financial impact, compared to an average of 24 per cent across the UK. Just 5 per cent of groups in areas where devolution has taken place recall being consulted about the process.

Speaking at the report’s launch in London on April 26, Localgiving set a series of recommendations to help address these issues. They include:

● The need to develop strong, transparent communication channels between the local voluntary sector and government - at all levels.
● The need for improved capacity building programmes to help grassroots groups diversify their income streams and prepare for increases in service demand.

Commenting on the findings of the report, the author of the report, Lewis Garland, said: “Our report has revealed a sector stretched well beyond its capacity. Local charities have been expected to fill the gaps left by public sector cuts, while simultaneously competing for dwindling funding opportunities.

“Meanwhile, the climate of uncertainty around issues such as Brexit and GDPR has left many questioning their future. If the sector is to survive, let alone flourish, it is essential that local charities are actively included in key decision making processes - both at the local and national level. Furthermore, we must find way to increase, and diversify the funding and support available to these groups”.

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