UK charities must learn for the next recession

It’s been a tough year for most of the 170,000 UK charities.  Increased financial pressures and for some, mergers and closures. Cash struck charities are experiencing a downturn like no other. Redundancies have been up to 35% and Oxfam, NSPCC, Christian Aid and CAFOD are the latest to announce staff cut backs. Legacy giving has dropped like a cold stone, with reduced property value directly hitting charities’ income. And we now know that individual donations declined as much as 11 per cent last year.

But there is some good news; supporters with strong relationships to their chosen charity are continuing their support – good old brand values are still key to maintaining engaged and happy people.  Similarly, corporate partnerships have gone from strength to strength where close and meaningful relationships exist with the given charity.  Although, it has to be said, times are much tougher for corporate events.

Also, where there have been a few new hirings, a couple of forward looking charities have specifically targeted recruitment materials to attract new blood from outside the sector.   This is by no means a new trend, but it is interesting to see a more active approach to attracting new people.

Finally, good news for media costs which have plummeted affording many the opportunity to leverage some nifty marketing for less money.  There is also a trend for more charities to do their own design and digital work internally.

So what are the lessons for the next recession? To develop deep and meaningful relationships with all your current supporters, demonstrating the value and difference their support brings. It is also wise not be too reliant on any one income source, allowing a diverse income portfolio to protect you during the less good periods. Finally, having a clear and robust talent strategy will help with any changes needed to the work force; ask yourself who are the rising stars you would like to keep and where do you need fresh talent from outside the sector?


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