There is little doubt that the increased demand for services had put huge strains on small charities and community groups across the UK and so demand for services has emerged as their most urgent challenge. Figure 1 show results from our Small Charity Index, which reports that from June 2013 to May 2017, demand for services has increased by an unprecedented 103 per cent. In the current tough financial climate and when, according to a survey of councils in England and Wales, 40 per cent anticipated making cuts in frontline services (rising to 71 per cent among social care services) (1), we do not see any evidence that the trend of increasing demand for local services from small charities and community groups is going to change any time soon.
Meeting demand for services has consistently featured in the top three challenges facing small charities since 2013, and most recently it has been ranked as the second highest challenge behind workload, both of which are intrinsically linked.
The 2017 Social Landscape report(2) supports these findings, reporting that demand for services has increased for four out of five organisations in the last year, and that this was only expected to get worse with less than half of CEOs being optimistic that the sector as a whole will be able to meet future demand.
Staff Morale and Motivation
In broad terms the charity sector benefits from good staff morale and high levels of job satisfaction compared with many other sectors. Over the four years since June 2013, respondents to the Small Charity Index have demonstrated that despite having to work to meet an increased demand for services, morale has remained steady during the same period (figure 1). But increasing workloads are having an impact, in a recent report 28 per cent of respondents said that working pressures impact negatively on their health and well-being(3). In the same report 53 per cent of staff reported that, in their opinion, the charity they worked for was not taking sufficient action to adjust workloads and that staff are being put under greater pressure in the hope that the charity will be able to ‘muddle through’. This cannot be acceptable as charities we must hold ourselves to a higher standard. Just as we work to demonstrate our values in the work we do for our beneficiaries we must also demonstrate these same values to our staff.
(1) LGiU and MJ (2017) 2017 State of Local Government Finance [https://www.lgiu.org.uk/report/2017-state-of-local-government-finance-survey/]
(2) CAF/ACEVO (2017) Social Landscape 2017 [https://www.cafonline.org/about-us/publications/2017-publications/social-landscape-2017]
(3) Birdsong Charity Consulting and Third Sector (2017) Charity Pulse 2017: Sector-wide Staff Survey Report [http://birdsong.co.uk/resources/]