Social Landscape 2017
Charities Aid Foundation & ACEVO
Generating income and achieving financial sustainability is the most pressing challenge for charity CEOs. This is compounded by a reduction in funding from statutory sources, the third most pressing challenge for CEOs this year, as well as an increase in competition within the sector, also seen as a top challenge for more than one in six organisations.
Demand for services has increased for four out of five organisations in the last year, and this is only expected to get worse. A further 85 per cent expect demand for services to increase in the next 12 months but worryingly just one in seven CEOs feel completely confident that they will be able to manage the increase, although a further 60 per cent feel somewhat confident.
Meeting demand for services is a challenge which has risen significantly since 2015, and is now the second most common challenge for organisations. This is up 13 percentage points from being a top challenge for 23 per cent in 2015, to 36 per cent in 2016. Charities which operate locally are more likely to be concerned about meeting demand for services compared to those that operate on a
Optimism for the sector as a whole to meet demand is low. Despite some confidence in their own organisation’s ability to meet demand, less than half of CEOs are optimistic that the sector as a whole
will be able to meet future demand.
Despite the challenges that CEOs face, the majority remain optimistic about the future of their organisation, although this is significantly reduced from 2015. This reduction may well be due to the increase in pessimism about economic conditions, up from 38 per cent in 2015 to 68 per cent this year, as well as financial concerns and worries about meeting demand for services.
New technologies and more diverse ways of giving are being used to overcome challenges and reach goals. Almost all CEOs say that they either have increased or will increase their social media presence. The majority have invested in IT or are planning to, and either have diversified income streams or plan to. Furthermore, two-thirds of CEOs say that they have introduced or will introduce new methods and channels of giving.
Collaboration and restructuring are also possibilities for many organisations. Four in five CEOs say that they have collaborated or will collaborate with another not-for-profit. The same proportion say they have restructured, or plan to, highlighting the changes and challenges that the sector is facing.
Negative media stories are seen to have had a damaging impact on the sector, and many feel that government support is lacking. Two thirds think that the negative media stories have had an impact on the charity sector as a whole. Good news stories, effective communication and education, and more transparency within the sector are seen as ways to help rebuild public trust in charities.
However, government support is also seen to be lacking, with over 70 per cent pessimistic about the support, significantly more so than in 2015.
Three quarters feel that the public do not understand the importance of charities to Britain today. This comes at a time when trust is seen to be suffering, demand on charity services is increasing and there are concerns over the economic conditions.