How the pandemic affected charities
Covid-19 has caused chaos and disruption throughout the globe to work and personal life, and as we continue to navigate and adapt to the pandemic, charities have spoken out as to how they’ve been affected.
84% of charities have reported a decrease or a fairly significant decrease in their total income during the lockdowns.
New and intensified needs
Many charities experienced a need for their services to intensify throughout the pandemic, as the public dealt with drastic life changes. From redundancies and decreases in incomes to lockdowns having an impact on mental health, the ever-changing circumstances have had certain members of the public needing more help than ever before.
School closures meant that lessons were taught online, which proved to be problematic for disadvantaged children without access to technology or the internet. In a bid to fix this digital divide, the Hackney and Islington branch of the Citizens UK community organisation group collected over 200 laptops. This was so laptops could be donated to households with students having difficulty with online learning, and elderly residents living in increased isolation due to the pandemic.
Whether it was the message to stay at home or rule of 6, the government advised members of the public to be mindful when interacting with others and adhere to social distancing rules. These restrictions understandably impacted how charities can gain help from volunteers.
The issue with restrictions is that, based on 188 responses, 74% of charities reported that their voluntary income had seen a decrease. This decrease is problematic as charities need volunteers to reduce operating costs. For example, a charity can distribute a workload amongst various volunteers or seek out individuals who are trained in a specific area rather than paying numerous full-time wages to achieve different tasks.
Countless charities rely on donations to raise money and operate. The closure of stores and non-essential businesses being a requirement meant that charities had to adapt and rethink their methods. Virtual and no contact donations became crucial.
An example is Smart Works, a charity that offers women styling sessions and outfits alongside interview coaching, which has made changes that adhere to COVID guidelines. Clothing donations are now welcomed by post and courier, coaching advice is virtual, and outfits are ‘packed into a box with love, care, and a supportive smile’ from the dressing team.
Similar to every business the staff who work for charities have been affected by the pandemic, and on average 50% of full-time staff are still on furlough. There is a collective sense of worry that charities using the scheme will struggle to bring back all of their employees, but 65% of charities are eager to keep staff by offering reduced hours.
Looking to the future
During such unprecedented times, members of the public and charities adapted to the ever-changing circumstances. Fundraising efforts became inventive, with people replacing mountain climbs with climbing their staircase at home with the equivalent number of steps. The pandemic also created a sense of unity, particularly when it came to fundraising and showing support for the NHS, as 2020 was the year that Sir Captain Tom Moore raised over £32 million for the NHS by walking 100 laps of his gardens. The phrase “charity begins at home” was also intensified, as local communities became more aware of local causes that they could help with. An example of this is a local nightclub in Sunderland becoming the site for the charity Take One Leave One.
With the roadmap and end of restrictions commencing from the 12th of April, the future of the charity sector is unclear but optimistic.