Despite being under enormous financial pressure recently, charities have been remarkably successful in maintaining and improving their work to meet their charitable objectives but many are now reaching a tipping point. The pressures that have been building are not going away and can be summed up in a number of themes:
Time and again the sector has innovated and stepped in to provide where public services has reduced provision. Coupled with increased demand, charities are now also providing an ever wider range of services as they respond to the growing needs of the individuals who require them. This diversity of service provision has resulted in the duplication of processes within, and indeed between many organisations.
Grants from across the public sector are becoming scarcer. Those bodies that continue to fund charities are rightly looking for evidence of the impact and outcome of the work, making access to the funds more competitive. Many charities rely on public sector contracts. Many of these contracts are becoming more onerous to comply with and have a greater focus on demonstrating a reduction in costs.
The sector has seen a squeeze both on donations from individuals and the public, and corporate sector and donor organisations. This reduction in donations to many charities has been compounded with the increased expectations from donors. How can they be sure their donation is being put to best use and having the most impact?
There are solutions to these challenges, although a long term, strategic approach is needed to provide them. Some charities are aware of the need for a step change in the way they work and have moved early to establish ambitious change programmes.
There are two main drivers behind successful change programmes in response to the challenges: