Managing in the new normal 2016

Now in its ninth year, the 2016 ‘Managing in the new normal’ survey, produced in partnership with the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Group (CFG) collates the views of over 400 senior fundraising and finance professionals in the charity sector.

This year’s survey comes at the end of a turbulent year for the charity sector, with public scrutiny at a high level. The failure of Kids Company and the challenge to certain fundraising techniques both contributed to a year in which public trust and confidence in the sector were put to the test. 64% of respondents (compared to 74% last year) reported that they are optimistic about the next 12 months, with a corresponding increase in those stating that they are worried.

We have, of course, also had a change in Government since the last report, which may have contributed to this slight mood change; with the continuation of policies relating to austerity and changes to sectors such as health, social care and education.

On the positive side, there is a growing recognition of the need to embrace changes to the way some charities look at their risk management and operating models, but there are reported concerns about the level of resource and skills to make the most of these opportunities. Given the scale of the changes facing the sector, for many it is likely that the risks of standing still will be greater than investing for the future.

As the need increases to provide clear information about a charity’s activities and the impact it has, so there will be increased pressure on those charities that are found to be less effective. We should embrace the direction in which this scrutiny is taking us and use it as a catalyst both to understand and improve our future effectiveness as a sector.

Key findings

  • 1 in 3 charities said maintaining public trust and confidence is the most important issue facing the sector
  • 83% of respondents saw press and public scrutiny as the biggest challenge facing the sector
  • 65% of respondents said that they had experienced an increase in demand for their services this year
  • One in four respondents (25%) said that they do not have the resources to meet these demand
  • At least 73% of the respondents reported improving their fundraising practice over the past year
  • 85% of respondents said that they did not currently have the skills or capacity to access or use social investment
  • 54% said that they could not increase their levels of financial reserves, even if they wanted to do so
  • Morale in the charity sector has fallen slightly with 58% (compared with 61% in 2015) saying that their staff were energised or optimistic
  • Respondents are less optimistic about the future of their organisation compared to last year, with 64% currently optimistic, compared to 74% in 2015