Major academic study to look at Covid-19’s impact on charities

The NCVO and a group of academics are linking up for a study into the “dramatic impact” of Covid-19 on the charity sector.

The study will create 15 monthly reports focusing on how the voluntary sector and social enterprises are being affected by the health crisis.

This includes a panel survey involving 100 organisations and in depth interviews to assess Covid-19’s impact on charities finances, organisation, staffing and volunteers.

Charities are being invited to take part in the project by sharing their experiences.

Involved are academics from Nottingham Business School and Sheffield Hallam University. The study has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

“Covid-19 is having dramatic impacts on voluntary sector organisations and social enterprises,” said Professor Daniel King, of the Nottingham Business School.

“The pandemic has brought increased demand for services whilst simultaneously cuts have occurred to income, estimated at £4.3bn during March-May 2020 alone. This represents challenges to policymakers and practitioners in how they can best respond to the crisis.

“ A key impact that Covid-19 has had on the sector is the way in which it has changed how organisations operate. Social distancing measures mean that paid staff, volunteers and beneficiaries can’t interact as usual, preventing many existing ways of working, often face-to-face, from occurring.

“Organisations have had to adapt quickly, some furloughing, others going digital or transforming their operations. In contrast some organisations are simply struggling to survive. This study will explore and analyse these changes so that organisations can learn from each other, and policymakers will be informed on the best actions to take to protect the sector.”

NCVO chief executive Karl Wilding added: “This is an important piece of work – we need to deepen our understanding of how voluntary organisations are being impacted by the coronavirus pandemic so that we can fully play our part in the long road to recovery.

”The evidence gathered will help us make the case for real and decisive action to support the people most in need now and ensure that charities and volunteers can continue to support communities long into the future.”

A study by think tank IPPR North has indicated that charities in deprived areas are likely to be hit hardest by the pandemic.

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