Charities may find more political space to effect change in 2020, says NCVO

The Road Ahead 2020, which provides NCVO’s annual analysis of the pressures facing the charity sector in the next 12 months, says:

  • charities will need to continue navigating changes in the political landscape, as the country moves into the next phase of Brexit
  • pressure on charity funding, especially from local and national government, is set to continue
  • Extinction Rebellion and other decentralised movements provide one potential model for securing support and engagement from the next generation of volunteers.

The Road Ahead 2020 argues that Brexit will continue to consume substantial government resources, as Whitehall moves on from the Withdrawal Agreement to negotiating a future trade deal. Yet with more certainty about Brexit, charities may find they have more political space in which to campaign for social change. A continuing focus on the implications of Brexit this year and beyond could still mean slow progress with officials.

The report also warns charities that the UK’s economic circumstances are likely to remain deeply uncertain. With research showing poverty increasing among families in work, and with the country facing the slowest annual growth since it emerged from the global financial crisis in 2008, key areas of charity activity – including poverty relief, social care provision, homelessness support and welfare reform – will remain in high demand.

The Road Ahead points out that charities may look to learn from emerging models driven by younger donors and volunteers who are engaged by the cause but agnostic about the sector delivering it.

The Road Ahead 2020 uses a PEST analysis to outline the different drivers in society and politics and their likely impact on charities, as a guide for charities as they plan for the next twelve months.

Sarah Vibert, Director of Public Policy and Volunteering at NCVO, said:

While we must not underestimate the continued challenges Brexit and the economy will pose for charities over the next 12 months, I am tentatively hopeful we will see the beginnings of a different operating environment this year. 

The government is keen to move on from Brexit monopolising public debate and this gives the sector an opportunity to push other issues higher up the agenda.  We also need to hold the government to account for the spending promises of the election and push for this to translate to more money at community level.

Charities have a crucial role to play in reducing social isolation, providing places for people to come together, and hosting causes around which to unite. NCVO will work with the new government to ensure our sector is central to shaping the country’s future.

Karl Wilding, Chief Executive of NCVO, said:

The Road Ahead will hopefully help charity leaders plan for the next year. The charity sector will be as vital as ever for all the people it serves, and NCVO has produced this analysis so that charities can head into 2020 with confidence.

The Road Ahead 2020 also covers themes including:

  • the opportunity for charities to be influential local voices as the political focus moves to ‘left behind’ towns and cities
  • the digital future for charities at a time when one in five have been targeted for cyber attacks
  • the future of fundraising, as data shows that GDPR rules have resulted in fewer potential donors being approached for cash
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