There’s a lot going on at the moment – economically, politically and socially. The cost of living crisis, inflation increases, the legacy of Covid-19 and Brexit, and rising awareness of the need for equity, inclusion and diversity are a lot to take on.
It’s not an easy time. Research from Charities Aid Foundation shows that nearly two thirds of charity leaders are worried about generating income and achieving financial sustainability, whilst a third are concerned about meeting demand for their services. The economic climate is starting to bite, and the impact of inflation both the real-term values and numbers of donations and grants is starting to take hold, with Pro Bono Economics forecasting a 6% fall in real terms values, and a 7% drop income overall to the charity sector.
So what can we do about this? Whilst there’s no magic wand to wave, we can take action. By reviewing, reacting and responding – we can navigate the turbulent times ahead.
Whilst sticking your head under your desk and hoping it will all go away may be tempting – it’s probably not going to help. Instead, taking stock of your offer, your income generation activities and the impact of your projects or services is a good place to start. What’s working and what’s not? Can you stop, mothball or review what you are doing? Which of your activities offer a good return on investment, and which might need a bit of tweaking?
You may also want to review the skills, experience and knowledge you have around you. Is there a gap you need to fill, perhaps using digital, HR support or change management? Can your board offer this, and if not, where can you find it?
This is probably a good time to review your budget. Have you allowed for inflationary increases, and if so, what does this mean? Are you maximising any tax reliefs? If you raise any funds from the public, this includes Gift Aid which you can claim retrospectively for donations made in the last four years.
Remember – you’re not in this alone. Everyone is feeling the pressure, and talking to your board, your staff or others in your sector or community can help. Whether it’s finding ways to work collaboratively, share resources, or just off-load – a friendly chat can often really help.
There is no hiding from the fact that the next few months, and maybe years, are going to be challenging. Your supporters – whether they are grant makers, donors or partners – know this too. So talk to them, and remember (no matter how hard it is) don’t stop fundraising! Tell your supporters what’s happening – they may be more willing to help that you think, offering flexibility in how you spend a grant, or increasing amounts to recognise escalating costs.
Building your resilience is about recognising where you are, what you need to do, and making a plan to do it. If we review, react and respond – we can weather the storm together.
Leah Selinger runs Selinger Consultants which provides charities and not for profits with support to ensure they are there for the long haul. Leah is currently working with People’s Health Trust to deliver training sessions for funded partners on finance and fundraising. You can find a list of these and all other upcoming events for our funded partners here.