Charity leadership in 2022: 'None of us could bear another winter in lockdown'

It’s been a turbulent year for the sector, and 2022 is already shaping up to be interesting too. Below, we’ve asked what some of the sector’s concerns are for the upcoming year.

Chester Mojay-Sinclare, CEO & Founder, Enthuse

“The biggest concern for the sector remains uncertainty. As I write, there is debate in the media and between politicians about the right way to tackle the Omicron variant. Public health has to be the overriding factor, but this uncertainty makes it very difficult for charities to plan 2022, when they are unsure if their events can be physical or if they need to shift to virtual events again. Hybrid events with an ability to dial down the physical element seems the best route. However, even with that in place, charities still face the challenges of not being able to plan for office-based activities for the near term at least.

“My other concern is one closer to home. There are so many tech options being thrown at charities but all too often without the right guidance to help them make the most of them. There is a lot to navigate when trying to find the right platforms and solutions, and making sure they integrate with the charity’s existing technology to put their cause front and centre is the key. Ultimately donors want to give directly to charities – 67% of online donors state this. And they give more – £42 on a charity site compared to £34 on a consumer giving platform. Finally they remember the charity more – 76% of donors recall who they gave to when they donate directly vs 57% when using consumer giving platforms.

“This is going to be an uncertain period for charities – using the investment they put into their brand to help build long term relationships with supporters is an important element in trying to limit that uncertainty.”

Mary McGrath, CEO, The Food Exchange

“To get 46 community dining Projects back up and running (effectively re-launching them all in six months) has required additional staffing to ensure we have full volunteer teams that are well trained as well as reaching out to beneficiaries through various marketing methods to come back inside and dine again.

“These additional resources have required more funding and with inflationary pressures within our economy, running charities will require even more fundraising to deliver their services in 2022. Everyone was incredibly generous to charities that managed to deliver services during lockdowns but with the cost of living rising it’s hard to see how that generosity can continue.

“It goes without saying that the recent Omnicom Variant is also a major concern for charities. None of us could bear another winter in lockdown. This was hugely isolating for so many people and had a big impact on everyone’s mental health.”

Dora-Oliva Viol, director, Work Rights Centre

“In 2022, we are looking forward to continuing our work supporting those in precarious employment to understand and assert their rights. We are concerned about the rising levels of poverty, particularly with the increasing cost of living and upcoming National Insurance rise. We have also been hearing from people whose Universal Credit has been suspended suddenly and without warning, and are working with them and other organisations to try and understand what is happening and how we can best support people in this situation.

“We have a lot of work ahead. But with the help of our expert frontline team, our colleagues in comms who bring these stories to life, and our supporters and likeminded partners across the sector, we are ready for the challenge. I’m particularly excited about the Universal Credit eligibility quiz we’re building, to make it simpler for migrant claimants to understand and assert their rights to welfare.”

Mohamed Ashmawey, CEO, Human Appeal

“The continuation of Covid challenges. The ending of the furlough scheme. The significant jumps in inflation not witnessed in decades. These three issues pose unique challenges that will need to be addressed in both the short and long term. Combined they can disrupt economies and individual earnings which in turn can create more vulnerable people in society. With increased adversity less people can donate to help others.

“It is our strong belief that giving to charity can and does help to alleviate social hardship and suffering. Prejudice and inefficient bureaucracy need to be significantly reduced. It is painful to see prejudice against Muslim charities coupled with bureaucracy become obstacles in aid reaching those in dire need around the globe. Aid funds are often returned to the charities, without a meaningful rationale, causing financial losses due to currency conversions and serious delays in the implementation of humanitarian projects.

“The continuation of prejudice against Muslim faith-based charities also creates socio-political constraints, despite the fact we are working hard to save lives and have no political objectives whatsoever.

“Finally, any decrease in the UK's overseas aid will also have a negative knock-on effect for millions of lives around the globe and impact the UK's standing as a World leader.”

Robert Meakin, charity partner at Keystone Law

“Concerns in 2021 will also feed into 2022. The big problems will continue to be unresolved. The Charities Bill offers some improvements to a complex area of law, but it does not address the need for a fundamental review of the scope of purposes which should be encouraged with tax reliefs. There is currently a stark difference between a charity and a social enterprise in terms of tax and funding even though both deliver community benefit. Charity law continues to be constrained by a system of law designed to cater of 19th Century Foundations run by volunteer trustees as opposed to 21stCentury businesses with public benefit purposes. The professionalisation and commercialisation of the sector demands a review of paid trusteeships.

“There are also concerns with the mix messages on the ability of charities to promote law reform in furtherance of their objects and turf wars between charities in an overcrowded market. There also needs to be a resolution about how charities interface with the public sector which should lead to a re-examination of the extent to which charities need to be independent where they are carrying out public services.

“The extensive list of questions in the Charity Commission annual report coupled with the serious incident reporting regime and the auditor’s duty to report matters of material significance raises concerns that people will be put off creating charities. Never has it been more important to remember that charities are run by volunteers who should be encouraged rather than at times castigated.”

Lisieux Trust

2022 looks like it will bring more challenges around the pandemic, in particular possible restrictions on what our residents and tenants can do, which can have a big impact on their mental health. The big challenge for 2022 is finding properties suitable for us to set up more supported living and residential care services; we now have a big waiting list of people who would like support from Lisieux Trust and we currently have no spare spaces in our properties. Another challenge, as always, will be continuing to increase our income to ensure we can pay our employees above the national living wage.

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