CAN reflect on the challenges facing Norfolk charities

Like many of you, we at CAN receive many updates regarding the state of the voluntary sector.  It is concerning to see that in recent months there has been a rise in reports of failing Norfolk charities. One in four organisations nationally have reported a drop in income of more than 40%. This is at a a time when demand for charity support rocketed.

Over recent months we have received increasing enquiries about dissolving or downsizing charities, managing redundancies, and renegotiating contracts as the financial crisis hits.  Community buildings are considering mothballing premises to weather the storm and we are seeing more requests for help to find revenue funding than ever seen before.

The cost-of-living crisis is also impacting funding, with competition for funding increasing and with funding panels often vastly oversubscribed.  According to Charity Digital, donations have declined. VCSEs need to be innovative and find new ways to attract income to weather this storm.

What is the partnership doing to help Norfolk Charities?

Our response at Empowering Communities (EC) has been to develop collaborative working across the sector.  Use of networks to drive partnership opportunities, sharing of properties, cross border collaborations, and negotiating better support from statutory bodies as part of their financing of activity, such as in-kind support, are all ways to reduce costs.

Some 26% of the VCSE’s income comes from government and public bodies to deliver public services and underfunding of these services is a longstanding problem for the sector, which is now being exacerbated by the cost-of-living crisis. The EC partnership is working with national VCSE infrastructure to ensure these issues are heard within Government. To that end the NCVO have just released a survey to ascertain the impact of inflation on public services delivery, please respond to this survey and ensure VCSEs in Norfolk make their voices heard.

The Charity Commission recognises that many charities are facing difficulties from rapidly increasing costs.  Some charities are also experiencing increased demand, particularly those supporting people in need.  The Charity Commission have produced guidance for trustees, especially for smaller charities, to help when making difficult decisions about their charity’s financial position. Read more here.

Research in 2023 by Blackbaud and Nepa found most donors do not know what difference their donation has made.  Only 43% knew whether their giving had improved people’s lives.  The report urged charities to “demonstrate the impact that your supporter has made”.

Fundraising platform iRaiser suggests that charities create a pitch  to demonstrate their impact and engage donors. The pitch should include advantages for the donor. More importantly, it should have information on how the donation helps your cause, showing what precisely it provides.

Future plans…

Moving forward we need to be bold and creative. Ultimately, we must work together to develop solutions and work with funders and statutory bodies to ensure that we all understand the issues the sector faces.

Resilience will be a key theme within the EC programme over the coming months. Watch this space for more details of the upcoming programme and as always get in touch if there is something you want to see.

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