As 2020 concludes, it is important to reflect on the impact the pandemic has had on charities. With the holidays approaching, we’re all looking for hope. Charities and not-for-profits have worked tirelessly this year to keep afloat and support their beneficiaries, and we must carry on donating to them as they are more important than ever. Tech and online giving are important for donors at the moment. However, expertise in harnessing this channel of fundraising may be skewed towards larger charities so remember to support smaller charities and those servicing niche causes and inclusion issues – after all Christmas is all about giving.
- The need for charities and their work remains strong and may have increased due to the pandemic.
- The Charity and not-for-profit sector accounted for 3% of the UK’s workforce pre-pandemic. As charity shops closed during lockdowns, small charities were particularly hit hard – we must think about smaller charities, not just the big ones.
- Celebrities use their platforms to raise awareness and funds for many causes.
- Unicef launched a domestic emergency response in the UK for the first time in its more than 70-year history to help feed children hit by the Covid-19 crisis.
- Consider donating a charity with a niche cause, such as inclusion or diversity issue, to ensure all communities are supported in these unusual times.
Pandemic increased need for charities and their work
Charitable organisations and not for profits have had to up their game this year. Heightened by the impact of the pandemic, which has created a double whammy by impeding access to donations and exacerbating existing inclusion issues. These include mental health, support for vulnerable adults, the elderly, children and women (who have experienced greater family responsibilities), the pandemic increased the need for charities and their work.
Now is the time when support is most needed, and it’s reassuring to see that Brits have been donating throughout the pandemic. Whilst the big names in the sector remain prominent, it is important to remember to include smaller charitable organisations in our donations, and those with a niche focus, particularly inclusion issues, as the pandemic has accentuated inequalities. Most importantly, keep giving.
Charities contribute over £18bn to the UK economy, working with the most marginalised and vulnerable
There were 168,000 registered charities in 2019, accounting for over 3% of the UK’s workforce and charities contribute over £18bn to the UK economy, working with the most marginalised and vulnerable. Charities often step in to do things that neither the state nor private sector has the skills, willingness or ability to deliver. This includes working with the most vulnerable, those at greatest risk, and those who are often excluded from mainstream provision. With less bureaucracy and greater flexibility, charities are usually more agile and responsive.
Whilst some large charities are well-known, famous and operate like big businesses, many more are small organisations with limited capacity to weather the current storm. To be fair, government support through furlough and targeted initiatives have helped many charitable organisations (though not all can access support).
The impacts of donation loss and increased need mean 2020 has not been an easy year. It has been challenging and transformational. Charitable organisations have struggled, as raising funding to support causes was more important than ever before. Lockdown closures of all shops across the country threatened the sustainability of many charities, as an important traditional source of generating funds was closed for the foreseeable future.
Research shows that the sector is not as volatile as other businesses, as charities have lower debt ratios, however, it remains crucial that charitable organisations are supported, their workforces retained and their causes driven forward. Fortunately, the sector has adapted fast and harnessed the power of technology. Our access to tech and online giving has never been easier, but also that Brits have actively used digital platforms to make donations is very reassuring. Additionally, many charities have adapted to the online delivery of support services, matching other sectors of the economy in adjusting to our new reality.
Celebrities like Dolly Parton and Marcus Rashford make a huge impact, championing inclusion and positive change
Special charity drives by celebrities like Dolly Parton and Marcus Rashford made a huge impact, championing inclusion and positive change, setting the bar high, and inspiring people to give. In the UK, Marcus Rashford in particular has created a benchmark for young people, raising the issue of school meals and child hunger as an important social and political subject. Veteran star, Dolly Parton has led the way by publicly donating to COVID-19 vaccine research and using her celebrity platform to encourage others to donate too.
UNICEF fed children most affected by the COVID crises
UNICEF fed children most affected by the COVID crises, launching free school meals support to affected communities in London – the first time in its 70-year history. Unicef pledged a grant to the community project School Food Matters, which will supply 18,000 nutritious breakfasts to 25 schools over the two-week Christmas holidays and February half-term next year, feeding vulnerable children and families in south London who have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
While larger charitable organisations and well-known personalities, overall, are in the position to amplify their appeals and platforms to be more visible, this is an area of challenge for smaller specialist charities and it is here where we can drive our reaffirmed efforts and support.
Lloyds Bank Foundation is leading the support for smaller charities
The Lloyds Bank Foundation made a major impact in protecting small UK charities in response to the COVID crisis. Their report shows that approximately 44% of turnover is earned income from funding and trading that was adversely affected by lockdown. Although Lloyds Bank Foundation is leading by example in helping smaller charities overcome this, they report it mainly helps combat the immediate crisis, and long term health still needs protecting.
This presents an opportunity to make a difference. 2020 was a year like no other, and for all the good work done by charitable organisations, we still need them to sustain inclusion and bettering of society, so we must remember to give and support them as best as we can.