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Unprecedented Challenges for Charity Sector

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A recent survey among voluntary groups and charities in Surrey has revealed that 90% of charities of all sizes are expected to see a huge drop in income for 2020-21. 15% of groups did not expect to weather the storm, facing closure on a permanent basis.

 

Funding Drop

Charities of all sizes have seen income plummet during the Covid19 epidemic. Charity shops have been shut for two months. Large events such as the London Marathon, which raised £66 million for charity in 2019, were cancelled. There is also evidence that the looming recession has made everyone less charitable, with donations falling sharply to groups in all sectors. Even though the lockdown is gradually easing, all charities expect the rest of 2020 to present significant challenges across the sector.

 

Administrative Burden

Along with serious issues around donors and funding, the other main issue raised by charities is the increasing level of administration. Large charities have dedicated staff or specialist help to cope with GDPR legislation, or to keep up to speed with which volunteers require DBS checks. This is not the case for smaller charities, who lack the legal expertise to remain up to date. In terms of the law however, this is no excuse. Smaller charities have to comply with all legislation and risk prosecution if they are found to be putting clients, volunteers or the general public at risk.

 

DBS Checks for Volunteers

In most cases, there is no charge for DBS criminal records checks for people who are carrying out a role on a voluntary basis. But this doesn’t cut out all costs for the charity sector. Someone has to work out which volunteers need a DBS check in the first place, and at which level. Only volunteers working closely with children or vulnerable adults will require an enhanced DBS check. Some charities may choose to run less detailed checks on other types of volunteers too, depending on their individual circumstances.

As well as needing someone to set the policy around DBS checks, charities need someone to manage the process. This might just mean directing volunteers to the appropriate website. If more detailed checks are needed, it could mean substantial time spent on administration, checking documents and verifying that applicants are who they say they are. The DBS recognises the challenges faced by the charity sector, but concerns around safeguarding cannot be ignored.

 

Going Forward – The Future for Charities?

It seems unlikely that the large, national charities are going to face closing in the near future. Many have cash reserves, have furloughed staff and are working on plans to work smarter in the future. For smaller operations though, it’s a different story. At a time of recession, charities understand that money is tight. People may however have extra time on their hands and can use this in practical ways. Think about getting involved with a local organisation rather than just giving cash. This could involve working towards the aims of the charity, or doing back-office administration, marketing or social media work.