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Sarah Vibert

Sarah Vibert

Sarah Vibert

Chief Executive Officer

Sarah controls the direction of NCVO

Sarah Vibert
Chief Executive Officer

Meeting the challenges of a Cost of Giving Crisis this winter

Sarah Vibert

Sarah Vibert

Sarah Vibert

Chief Executive Officer

Sarah controls the direction of NCVO

Sarah Vibert
Chief Executive Officer

NCVO's chief executive Sarah Vibert launches our campaign to support charities and voluntary organisations through the tough months ahead

As charities across the country work towards another difficult winter, our latest research reveals the alarming scale of the challenges facing our sector. With costs climbing, income falling and demand increasing, this is no longer just a cost of living crisis. For charities, who give so much to society, this is a 'Cost of Giving Crisis.'

This September, we surveyed charities across the country to find out about their concerns. Worryingly, the data that came out shows if they don’t get the urgent support they need, 1 in 5 five charities say they could be forced to ‘disappear’ this winter, leaving the people and communities they serve at risk.

A staggering 85% of charities predict that this winter will be as tough, or even tougher, than the last. And as many as 27% said they already believe they won’t be able to meet the increasing demand for their services.

How did we get here?

Insights from this year’s UK Civil Society Almanac highlight how the pandemic left the sector in a far worse position to weather the ongoing cost of living storm.

And now, as a result, the voluntary sector is struggling as it grapples with a ‘triple threat’ of falling income, climbing costs, and increasing demand for services. For many charities, despite their resilience and ingenuity, this Cost of Giving Crisis has created a melting pot of pressures as they continue to support their communities.

In the survey, which was completed by over 580 NCVO members, organisations told us that costs are continuing to increase across the board. This includes the cost of goods and services (73%), energy and utility bills (68%), wage bills (63%), insurance costs (51%), property maintenance (41%), and rents and mortgages (27%).

It’s important to note here that the majority of these costs are not optional, meaning no savings can be found to cut costs. Our survey data shows that only 35% of charities believe they can navigate this crisis through cost cutting, suggesting many are already cut to the bone.

The scale of the Cost of Giving Crisis means a quarter (24%) of charities are preparing to reduce the volume or variety of services they offer this winter. This means many people could lose the vital services they depend on.

So, what can be done?

At NCVO, we’re highlighting, and offering, the urgent support needed to help charities manage the Cost of Giving Crisis.

  1. Providing practical help and support for the sector: we offer a wide range of support, guidance, training and webinars for charities, staff and trustees. You can access this and more through our new Cost of Giving Crisis support portal.
  2. Calling for government action to properly fund charity contracts: Government must ensure that contracts and grants for charities delivering services are uplifted to meet the costs of delivery. If this doesn’t happen people might not be able to access the vital services they need this winter and beyond. Over £16.8 billion of contracts and grants in the UK charity sector come from government and the public sector. But these contracts aren’t ‘uplifted’ each year to reflect the rising costs of delivering these vital services.
  3. Asking the public to donate spare time, not just spare change: While the generosity of the public through donations and fundraising is vital, almost half (45%) of charities say they’re planning to meet the challenges of the Cost of Giving Crisis by recruiting more volunteers. We have resources for anyone interested in volunteering this winter.

The Cost of Giving Crisis campaign is a call to action on behalf of and for, the sector we all love so much.

But we also need to be clear on why help is so vital: in times of difficulty, and in times of need, charities are there to support the people and communities who need it. If charities are forced to reduce services, help less people, or even disappear completely this winter, who will they turn to?

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