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Survey shows charities doing more with less

Charities are continuing to battle with financial pressures whilst still working to deliver services to the people who need them, according to a new survey of charity leaders.

The Charity Forecast Survey, published today (25/10/2012) by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), shows that 89 per cent of respondents expect to increase (44 per cent) or maintain (45 per cent) the services that they offer over the next quarter. Although 43 per cent predict their expenditure will decrease over the next 12 months and just 16 per cent expect it to remain static.

The findings show that charities anticipate the year ahead will be tough, with 51 per cent of respondents expecting their financial situation to deteriorate over the next year. One respondent said "The demand for our services is increasing day by day while our financial capacity is weakening at an unprecedented speed."

Sixty per cent of charities said they expected to compete more with other organisations over the next year, but respondents commented that smaller and local organisations are finding it challenging to stay afloat as they are being squeezed out by larger organisations who have the capacity to be ‘approved providers’. ‘We are being promised “commissioning” as the holy grail, however the tenders that are available to bid for are inappropriate for many voluntary and community sector organisations and are simply opening doors to the private sector or large national organisations,’ according to one survey respondent.

Commenting on the findings, Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of NCVO, said:

"Charities are under considerable pressure. The demands on all organisations are increasing whilst still trying to support the needs of the most vulnerable in society.

"Increasingly agencies without specialist knowledge and expertise with specific client groups are winning service delivery contracts over charities, largely because they are more adept at the tendering process.

"We need Government to support charities by encouraging opening up of commissioning processes and by removing the complexity to initiatives such as the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme so charities can benefit.”

Other findings from the charity leaders’ quarterly survey include:

  • Forty-nine per cent of respondents said the financial situation of their organisation worsened over the last 12 months
  • Ninety-two per cent of respondents think economic conditions within the voluntary sector will be negative over the next 12 months
  • Seventy-four per cent of respondents expect to collaborate more with other organisations over the next 12 months. Sixty per cent expect to compete more.

Journalists requiring more information, case studies or a copy of the Charity Forecast survey can contact Clarinda Cuppage in NCVO’s press office on 020 7520 2469 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For calls outside office hours, please call 07714 243942.

Notes to editors

The Charity Forecast Survey is carried out by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations every three months. It is open to all UK-based NCVO members.

This is the nineteenth edition of Charity Forecast and the results are based on a snapshot survey undertaken from 31 August to 28 September 2012. The survey began in February 2008.

All survey participants were Chief Executives, Directors, Trustees or Senior Managers of charities or voluntary sector organisations. There were a total of 201 responses which the results in this report were based on.

NCVO champions and strengthens the voluntary sector, with 8,500 members, from the largest charities to the smallest community organisations. Alongside our sister councils in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, we make sure the voluntary sector can do what it does best.

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