How Covid has changed charities' relationship with sector organisations

Demand from charities for services and support from charity infrastructure organisations has increased markedly during the Covid pandemic, research has shown.

According to findings released this month from the Covid-19 Voluntary Sector Impact Barometer study more than eight out of ten (85%) infrastructure organisations have reported an increase in demand since March 2020.

This latest edition of the Barometer is focused on how the pandemic has changed the dymanics in the relationship between charities and support organisations in the sector.

Developing digital technology, as charities pivot services and fundraising online amid lockdowns and social distancing guidelines, is among increasing areas of support being sought.

Advice from sector organisations on accessing new funding and mobilising volunteers is also increasingly needed by charities.

Half of frontline charities surveyed also said they have called on charity infrastructure bodies more since the health crisis started.

The research also showed that since March 2020, 29% of charities said they had experienced an improved relationship with infrastructure bodies, while 32% saw no change.

But round one in ten (9%) charity representatives surveyed felt their relationship with infrastructure bodies had deteriorated.

'Not hard hitting enough'

One concern raised by charities is that infrastructure bodies need to improve the effectiveness of their lobbying on behalf of the sector.

One frontline charity representative said: “Charity sector bodies are simply too soft and not hard hitting enough especially when dealing with UK government.”

The ongoing study is examining the impact of the health crisis on charities. It is led by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) and academics at Nottingham Trent and Sheffield Hallam universities.

“The capacity of infrastructure organisations to respond to Covid-19 has been at the heart of much of the charity sector’s response to the pandemic,” said the barometer project lead Nottingham Trent University professor Daniel King.

“Many local, national and sub-sector infrastructure organisations have been critical in helping their member organisations navigate the challenges they have faced, from providing Covid-19 guidance, information about funding and helping organisations cope with change at an unprecedent time.

“Many infrastructure organisations have been organising workshops, peer and leaders support sessions and ramping up information like newsletters to give more information at this key moment.

But King warned that the future of such support is “uncertain” amid funding concerns for infrastructure organisations, who are “concerned about their future direction and capacity to deliver their central mission”.

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