The 2024 Charity Survival Guide: How to Navigate Challenge and Embrace Opportunity?

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Charity donations


With more than 168,000 charities, turning over £60 billion and employing 925,000 staff and volunteers, the UK charity sector plays a vital role in supporting vulnerable communities, addressing important social issues, and providing essential services.

However, the current ‘state of the nation’ poses significant challenges for all – a perfect storm of rising demand for services due to the cost of living crisis, declining donations, staff and volunteer shortages, the ‘Covid hangover’, and inflation-wrecked budgets. 

This guide doesn’t just address these challenges. It also offers actionable solutions to help charities better navigate these turbulent times.

Challenge 1: High Demand on Charity Resources

The cost of living crisis has made an already tough job tougher. As social and economic inequalities grow, so does the demand for charity services.

“Almost three-quarters (73%) of large charities and
four in five (81%) medium-sized charities said that demand
  had increased over the last three months.”
 – Pro Bono Economics June 2023

You don’t have to look too hard to find evidence of this increasing reliance on charities. For example, the number of people receiving emergency food parcels from Trussell Trust foodbanks now stands at nearly 3 million – Nearly double the figure from 2018/19.

8 out of 10 food banks responding to a recent UK Fundraising survey said that the reason for this increase in demand is people struggling with the cost of food (82%), with 7 out of 10 citing increasing energy bills. Half put the reason down to mental health issues.

UK Fundraising also reports that 90% of food bank charities are worried they can’t meet rising demand with some even referring their own staff to food banks.

And it looks like things are set to get worse, if not much worse, before they get better, “More than four in five (83%) large charities said they expect demand to grow over the next three months too”.

So what can you do to cope with the increasing demand for your services so that you don’t become overwhelmed?

Here are five areas that every charity should review to help them handle the ever increasing demand on resources.

  • Partnership and collaboration

    Where do you see crossover or duplication? Of resources? Of talent? Of specialisms? Rather than competing with other charities in your sector are there opportunities for collaboration? And what about local organisations or government agencies? Are there opportunities to pool resources, share expertise, and expand service delivery? Or by narrowing your offering down? Would you be better off directing your abilities at a more niche audience and range of services instead of trying to spread yourself too thin – to drill down, specialise and partner with specialists?

  • Performance

    Whether you’re looking internally at your processes, people, services and systems, or externally at your user base, it’s important to understand what’s working and what isn’t. You’ll save a tonne of time, money and hassle by tweaking a challenge before it turns into a problem. Are you being as efficient with your time and resources as you could be? Is there a better way to do something? Can you eliminate wasted time or effort? Is there a quicker, easier, cheaper way to do something that will get better results?

  • Empower and educate

    If people don’t understand you – what you stand for, what you stand against and the change you’re trying to create in the world, how can they help you? How can they donate or volunteer? And why should the people you exist to serve reach out to you if they don’t recognise the value of what you do? Your branding, your value propositions and your messaging need to be crystal clear. Make it easy for people to see the importance of the work you do and the positive impacts you make.

  • Renegotiate contracts and service agreements

    Is it time to take a fresh look at your supplier contracts? Too often they can just trundle along in the background, quickly bleeding resources – all for the sake of a quick review and refresh. Where do you have opportunities to negotiate better terms on rents, phones, utilities and the rest?

  • Explore cost-savings

    How energy efficient is your charity? Your retail outlets? Your offices? Do you even need offices in this new hybrid working world? And what about your fleet? Are you throwing money away on dirty, expensive, old-fashioned vehicles and unnecessary or inefficient travel?

Talk to us today about how Charity Fleetcare Charity Fleet Pro and Driver Training will radically improve the performance of your vehicles and your drivers too – saving you a fortune in the process.

Challenge 2: Donation Fatigue

It’s a slightly mixed picture here. According to the Charities Aid Foundation UK Giving Report 2023, people in Britain donated £12.7 billion to charities in 2022, up from £10.7 billion in 2021. As positive as that sounds, the figures show that this increase is from fewer donors giving more, rather than an increase in the number of people donating.

The report also indicates that almost a quarter either have already changed or are considering changing their charitable behaviours. 5% report reducing or cancelling a regular charity donation, and 10% have quit one-off donations entirely.

The increased value in donations also doesn’t properly reflect the impact of inflation. Based on the OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) figures, it’s estimated that the charity sector will experience a real-term income drop of £800m between 2022/23 and 2023/24.

It’s a downward donation trend borne out by figures from Statistica

“Two thirds of people in England said that they gave
to charity in 2021/22, compared with 82 per cent in

With the volume of donations down and heading lower, what can you do to make sure people keep on giving and encourage them to give more?

  • Diversify fundraising strategies

    First things first, it’s time to make an audit of your existing funding channels. By clearly understanding your income sources, donor types, and funding cycles you’ll be able to identify gaps in your funding profile and set realistic goals to fill them.

    For example, what proportion of donations are earned through grants? How about individual donations? Or earned income from services, sales, memberships or property rental? And think about bequests too.

    With 140,000 bequests estimated to have left £4bn to charities in 2022/23 — an annual income growth of 6.5% – legacy donations play an increasingly crucial fundraising role.

    Map out where your funding is already coming from to identify where it can be strengthened and how you can expand your donor base.

    Now consider how you engage with your donor base – the fundraising methods and methods you use. For example, online campaigns, live events, auctions, crowdfunding, email marketing, social media, or mobile giving. And what about partnering with other nonprofits to access fresh networks as well as new resources, and skill sets?

  • Strengthen donor relationships

    Building your visibility and credibility in the local economy – and with donors through strategic partnerships, collaborations and alliances – is also an incredibly powerful way of raising profile and funds.

    Nurture a passionate and committed donor base with great communications. Demonstrate impact, share regular campaign updates, and get people involved in your activities on a personal level. Make it fun.

    Share stories and case studies, share experiences and use the life and love in your organisation to shine a clear light on the great work you do. Turn the rational into the emotional, your mission into an adventure, and invite everyone along for the ride. The more creative and engaging you are, and the more people can ‘feel’ part of what you’re doing, the more generous they become.

  • Embrace technology

    There’s all sorts of great tech these days to help you fundraise. From online donation platforms to donor management software, to social media tools that will streamline and supercharge your fundraising efforts.

    But that doesn’t mean that all charities use technology:

    “34% invest in technology as a priority and 27%
    get the most out of the solutions they use, despite
    66% of charities saying that technology helps them
    improve relationships with their supporters.”
    2023 Status of UK Fundraising Report

    And it doesn’t mean that if they do commit to new technology, they will use it well:

    “A vast majority of respondents have a fundraising CRM in place (82%), only 25% say they get the most out of it.”

    Here’s a simple and incredibly effective way to power up your Gift Aid donations using the latest donor-friendly tech. Charity Fleetcare Connected Technology – a smart new app that with a quick signature and simple tick of a box easily adds Gift Aid every time one of your drivers collects a donation.

    In fact, it’s so easy that we’ve seen many of our charity clients more than double their Gift Aid donations.

Talk to us today about how Charity Fleetcare Charity Fleet Pro can drive up to 70% more in Gift Aid donations for your charity.

Challenge 3: Staff Shortages That Impact Your Ability to Deliver Services

If decreasing donations and increasing demand weren’t challenging enough, recruiting and retaining the talent to ‘do more with less’ has become increasingly difficult over recent years. A combination of factors such as Brexit, the pandemic, and an ageing population have conspired to limit charities’ ability to get enough hands on deck necessary to properly deliver services.

In their Breaching The Dam report, Probonoeconomics revealed that 36% of charities and community groups struggle to recruit the staff they need and are subsequently failing to meet demand – with 41% forced to cut services. Figures that translate into nearly half of large and medium-sized charities and a third of small charities expecting to not meet demand over the next three months.

As well as difficulties bringing on paid staff, there are also challenges when it comes to volunteer recruitment, retention and wellbeing.

40% of organisations have failed to meet their objectives over the last 12 months through insufficient volunteers. Concern about volunteer recruitment continues to grow, especially among small charities.

This trend reflects a wider decline in volunteering across the country over the past decade.

What can you do to attract (and retain) the right people to help your charity deliver?

Perhaps the most important thing any organisation can do to help recruit and retain quality staff is to build a supportive and inclusive workplace culture.

Here are just a few of the initiatives that top performing charities already put in place to encourage their teams.

  • Promote clear, open and honest communication

    It’s important that everyone in your organisation feels heard. With the mechanisms in place to share feedback, raise concerns, and suggest improvements you’ll create a culture of contribution that leaves everyone feeling valued.

  • Encourage ownership and responsibility

    Give your teams ownership over their decision-making. By encouraging them to take the initiative, problem solve, and genuinely contribute to your organisation’s success they’ll feel recognised and invested. Make sure too that success is celebrated. We all love to have our hard work and accomplishments appreciated.

  • Invest in personal and professional growth

    Continuous learning is a powerful motivator and a great way to build value in any organisation. Share training programs, workshops, and mentorship opportunities to help people lean on the job. Support your people to become the best version of themselves with new skills, certification, and the ability to really fulfil their potential.

  • Promote Work-Life Balance and Well-being

    A healthy work-life balance is essential, with well-being a crucial cornerstone of any successful organisation. From flexible work including hybrid options, to regular breaks, and a culture of care based around respecting people’s lives in and out of work, it’s a modern business essential to prioritise people’s mental and physical wellness. Life’s stressful enough as it is – what can you do for your teams to help lighten the load?

  • Empower with empathy

    However empathetic we might be naturally, the right training and support will work wonders in helping hone those softer communication and conflict resolution skills. It’s always a positive move to positively support people with their people skills.

  • A clear, shared mission

    There’s no underestimating the power of a single, clear, shared mission. A single voice that inspires even the smallest of behaviours and binds them into a powerful and meaningful mission. After all – “There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come”. What’s your big idea? How do you share it? Could you share it more clearly?

The more supported and appreciated people feel, the more likely they are to choose to work with you and continue making a positive contribution.

More than grand gestures or sweeping strategic shifts, it’s often the little things that add up to make a charity an attractive employment option.

Things like:

  • New technology to make sure your staff feel safe when they’re out on the road. For example, dash cam and 360-degree cameras that protect drivers from bogus/no-fault insurance claims.
  • An app that means they don’t get stuck in traffic or get home from work late
  • Stress-busting live pick up information that makes collecting every donation a breeze
  • Performance insights and rewards so everyone’s hard work and initiative are properly recognised
  • The smartest, greenest vehicles that are a credit to your community and people are proud to drive
  • New driving skills certification that keeps your drivers up to date with the latest legalities protects them from inadvertently breaking the law.

The kinds of positive, proactive and long lasting contributions that you can make for your staff with Charity Fleetcare Charity Fleet Pro and Driver Training.

The way forward in 2024

The challenges facing UK charities in 2024 are real. Very real. But they can be overcome. Using creative strategies, new technology, and by developing strong partnerships, you won’t just be able to battle through the difficulties that the year ahead is sure to present – you can beat them.

The answer, as always, lies within – your ability to adapt to the needs of those you serve. Diversify your revenue streams, make the most of every resource at your disposal and bring your teams with you on your journey by showing them the support and empathy they deserve and expect.

Talk to us about how our specialist Charity Fleet services can help you do all of this – and more – with new Connected Technology and Driver Training created especially for charities.

The challenges facing UK charities in 2024 are real. Very real. But they can be overcome. Using creative strategies, new technology, and by developing strong partnerships, you won’t just be able to battle through the difficulties that the year ahead is sure to present – you can beat them.

The answer, as always, lies within – your ability to adapt to the needs of those you serve. Diversify your revenue streams, make the most of every resource at your disposal and bring your teams with you on your journey by showing them the support and empathy they deserve and expect. 

Talk to us about how our specialist Charity Fleet services can help you do all of this – and more – with new Connected Technology and Driver Training created especially for charities.

Contact us now on 0800 014 9797

Or arrange a callback here

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