In 2019, many charitable organisations in the UK saw a higher demand for their services. According to the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), four in five charity leaders surveyed in 2019 experienced an increasing demand for their services over the past 12 months, and expect the same need to continue into 2020.
With increasing demand on services comes an increasing demand for staff and provisions – one of the major challenges facing charities as we begin a new year. However, this isn’t the only obstacle local and national charities are concerned about in 2020, with the implications of Brexit still uncertain.
Here at Saint & Co, we specialise in helping charities and non-profit organisations to be prepared for internal and external circumstances that may affect business, so that they can focus on delivering the best service possible within the boundaries of their funding.
We’ve taken a look at the possible challenges you may be fearing in 2020 and how you might tackle them ahead of time.
Uncertainty as we move forward with Brexit
The government will have a task on their hands to meet the worries and requirements voiced by charities during the Brexit conversation. Many leaders of UK charities and nonprofits expressed concern about the possible negative impact the split from the EU would have on their organisation, from staff shortages and decreased donations to the fear of losing EU funding.
The government has released information detailing their commitment to EU funded programmes when we depart the EU, which may be helpful to you.
Organisations are banding together to tackle the injustices and inequalities in our society, in the event that 2020 will see more need for their services. Whilst you may not be able to control the circumstances outside of your organisation, you can look inside, assess what improvements can be made, and plan for sustainable growth.
Having a detailed oversight of your income and expenditure is vital for any charity looking to provide the maximum impact from its funding. We can take a look at how you’re performing right now, in order to make projections about the future, helping you to understand where you might be able to take on extra staff, or streamline your processes.
Trust and support from the public
Whilst the 2019 report from CAF found that leaders fear a public loss of trust, many charities have in fact reported a hike in donations and support since the recent general election. Shelter, Refuge and The Trussell Trust confirmed an increase in registrations following the results.
For organisations big and small, it is encouraging to know that public support itself is steady. As times are difficult for some of the most vulnerable in society, the public are putting their faith in charitable organisations for aid, and for answers.
You may want to consider how you’re reaching supporters and how well you’re demonstrating the impact their donations are having. This leads us onto the third major obstacle that is dividing charity leaders in this industry – technology.
Technology – a help or a hindrance?
The implementation of technology has moved many industries forwards and enabled growth and innovation. That being said, it has been found that charity leaders are on the fence about whether bringing on more technology will be a positive move, and many organisations have been hesitant to put a strategy in place for technological change.
Let’s look at some of the ways that technology can positively impact your organisation:
- Contactless payments – As money itself becomes more digital, so must the methods of donating it. Cash buckets may be left empty more often than not due to the simple fact that people carry less cash than they used to. Many national charities have swapped out traditional collection boxes for contactless card readers, and have consequently seen that the average amount donated per person has increased.
- Apps to assist volunteers and supporters – Almost all of us have smartphones nowadays, and we’re using our phones to work, shop, and socialise. Investing in an app for your organisation can have a positive impact in several ways. It may help you reach a wider demographic of supporters, encourage more regular donations, and also help with the organisation of local gifting that isn’t monetary. It can also be useful for coordinating your own volunteers if you operate across different locations.
Charities are using apps in innovative ways for all kinds of purposes – the St John Ambulance first aid app provides the public with vital first aid advice and information at their fingertips, even when they can’t get an internet connection. The Grace App for Autism is used to help autistic and other special needs children to communicate effectively. There may be a purpose outside of donations that technology can support you with.
- Online chat – Much like a website app, live chat software can make a whole lot of difference to both your supporters and your volunteers. Charities like Mind are utilising live chat sessions to provide fast emotional support to those suffering with mental health issues. A chat box can also connect you to volunteers and donors faster in times of need.
- Digital marketing and social media – Not all charities and non-profits will have the kind of marketing budget for TV ads or national transport advertising. That doesn’t mean you can’t be heard. Social media is a great free tool for spreading your message to a wide audience and inspiring action. For many organisations, it’s also a way of communicating with and empowering the very people you help.
Start by making a financial contingency plan
Though it may feel like you’re juggling with all kinds of external circumstances outside of your control, you can prepare for the unforeseen now. We’ll start by ensuring you’re getting the maximum return from every single donation and investment, and look at how you might diversify your income and create new revenue streams.
Most importantly, whilst you’re supporting others, you need support too. Don’t get lost in worry about the coming year – let us take care of the financial priorities so that you can take care of yourself and your people.