Charities struggling to maintain income before Lockdown

The top fundraising charities  were struggling to maintain funding levels in 2018/19 before the coronovirus lockdown, new data shows.   It reveals there was a fall in income as charities battled on two fronts. One was the impact of high-profile crises in governance and fundraising standards on public perceptions and confidence. The other was the economic and political uncertainty surrounding Brexit. Total income to the UK’s top 100 fundraising charities was £5.8 billion in 2018/29. Confirming the sector’s fears, however, this represented a marked fall in both their voluntary fundraised and earned income. This was all the more concerning as negative growth in annual income followed a virtually static position in growth the previous year.  

There were both winners and losers in 2018/19. While one-tenth of the top 100 saw falls of £10 million or more in fundraising, just under one half achieved income growth. This was generally very modest, however, though in spite of some excellent individual results. Donor confidence has undoubtedly been dented, and it was only legacy income – which largely expresses past goodwill – that showed growth and came to the rescue of many charities in 2018/19.

Headline financial results for 2018/19 show a real fall of -1.7% in the value of fundraising from the general public by the top 100 fundraising charities.  Income generation from statutory funding streams was equally challenged. It showed a large annual fall of -14.8%, and was at its lowest level for 6 years. Individual success storied included Royal Marsden Cancer Charity which increased its fundraising two years running, sustained longer-term strong growth in the Royal Horticultural Society, and record legacy incomes in Great Ormond Street Hospital and OXFAM GB.

But while charities have been taking careful steps to rebuild donor trust for the long-term, a game-changing new wave of public confidence may have been inspired as charities respond to the COVID 19 crisis. The charity sector has again demonstrated its capacity to reach out to those who fall through ragged public and private sector safety nets. They have been on the front line, often at personal risk, in providing food for the poorest communities and meals for NHS staff, delivering supplies, advice, mental health counselling or safe spaces from domestic abuse. Such causes are likely to be at the forefront of public donating in the current emergency. But hopefully the key role being played by so many charities is reviving a fresh public awareness and respect from which the whole sector will benefit as society recovers. It will need all the help it can get to rebuild an income base which was already under seige and to which COVID 19 has now dealt a hammer blow.

 For the full report and analysis see Top 100 Fundraisers Spotlight Annual Report April 2020, written by Cathy Pharoah, and published by The Fundraiser and Charity Financials.

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