Coronavirus: Charities could miss out on £4.3bn of income over next 12 weeks

Charity leaders and umbrella bodies have urged the government to provide more support amid estimations that show the sector could lose as much as £4.3bn worth of income over the next 12 weeks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson yesterday announced the UK could ‘turn the tide’ on the coronavirus outbreak in 12 weeks’ time.

But charity sector bodies have estimated that during that period, charities will miss out on a minimum of £4.3bn – although the figure is likely to be ‘far higher’ – and many will face increased costs as part of their role in tackling the outbreak.

Umbrella bodies including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Charity Finance Group (CFG), the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo), said charities across the country are facing ‘imminent collapse as fundraising income dries up’.

Charities have already been in conversation with the government about a package to support the sector, but today warned that without an urgent injection of cash, many charities would start to close their doors ‘as soon as next week’.

Over the past couple of weeks fundraising events have been cancelled across the sector, while shop doors have closed, and reserves have been depleted.

Many charities would normally expect to make significant proportions of their income from public fundraising events in spring and summer – a loss that contributes to the majority of the billions of pounds expected to be wiped from the sector.

Charities have asked for commitments from the government including:

• Emergency funding for frontline charities and volunteers supporting the response to the coronavirus crisis, especially where they are alleviating pressure on the health service or providing support to people suffering from the economic and social impact of coronavirus.

• A ‘stabilisation fund’ for all charities to help them stay afloat, pay staff and continue operating during the course of the pandemic.

• Confirmation that charities should be eligible for similar business interruption measures announced by the chancellor for businesses.

Commenting, NCVO chief executive, Karl Wilding, said “every day counts here”.

“I’m hearing from charities whose income has disappeared overnight but who still have to run services for their communities. Many of them have very little emergency cash to tide them over, and even those that do will run out in a matter of weeks,” he said.

CFG chief executive, Caron Bradshaw added the body has encouraged charities to diversify their funding models over the years and retain reserves on a risk basis.

“But this situation is unprecedented in attacking every area of charity income, whilst increasing demand and costs, and is rapidly burning through reserves,” she said.

“If the government doesn't act now then the longer term impact on the economy, society and social well being will be devastating and almost impossible to recover from.”

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