April 2020
In times of crisis, the importance of civil society as a place where people can come together to find rapid and innovative responses to local and national challenges is clearer than ever.  Recent CAF research found that in light of the coronavirus pandemic, most people (55%) said they will help in their local community. As we get stuck into local response efforts, many of us are also working hand in hand with charities that are continuing to provide vital services, networks and advice across the country.
Meanwhile, charities are hit by two crises at once. Demand for charities’ services is higher than ever, due both to the pandemic and its knock-on economic and social effects – charities are reporting a 43% rise in demand for their services.
At the same time their ability to fundraise effectively has stopped overnight as new restrictions on travel and events take their toll. This has led to charities predicting a 48% decline in voluntary income. As donations dip, volunteers self-isolate and fundraising becomes harder, charities increasingly need support to play their crucial role in helping the country through this crisis.


What do charities need?

CAF’s polling of its charity customers showed overwhelmingly that the number one thing they need is unconditional cash grants (53%) – followed by extra people to deliver services (19%). What is at stake is maintaining charities’ ability to support communities affected by coronavirus now – but we also need a resilient charity sector to remain healthy once the peak of the pandemic has passed.

Despite the Government’s package for charities, the sheer scale of the funding crisis facing charities right now means that more support will be needed in both the short and long term.

We believe philanthropy and charitable giving can play an important role in supporting civil society through and after the current crisis, but to mobilise generosity of the scale necessary will require additional Government support and stimulus.

Our recommendations

In this briefing we outline a number of immediate and medium term measures we believe should be taken to support charities at this difficult time. This is in addition to the sector calls for a charity specific fund.  Our proposals focus on recommendations for:

  • Government support for giving
  • Repurposing public and private charitable assets
  • Adapting philanthropic funding approaches and behaviour
  • Leveraging endowed assets
  • The response from business
  • The regulatory response


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