The past two years have proven turbulent, including for the charity sector. External factors – such as the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, inflation and the rising cost of living – have impacted charities’ operating environments. CAF and ICAEW's research provides insights into the sector's key challenges and considers how these can be tackled.
“While the charity landscape has changed – including through increasing digital activity and a greater emphasis on resilience – adapting to the challenges of recent years has also resulted in new opportunities,” says Alison Taylor, CEO of CAF Bank and Charity Services, in the report’s foreword. “We see 2022 as a year of opportunity for charities: to take stock, to rebuild finances, and to devise strategies for moving forward purposefully and sustainably,” she adds.
Trustees from local, national and international charities across a range of cause areas were interviewed to help inform the report.
1. Financial resilience: diversifying funding is key
An ongoing concern for charities and trustees is that of sourcing funding. Even charities that have secure incomes worry about protecting these or the possibility of losing them.
2. Working together: trustees impact collaboration within charities
The nature and involvement of a charity’s trustees can significantly impact the collaboration and culture within the organisation. Trustees can help guide their charities’ collaboration, which is why having the right trustees can greatly affect that charity’s outcomes.
3. Diversity: achieving diversity remains a challenge
Cultivating diverse and inclusive trustee boards is a complex issue for many charities. A key element of diversity in all its forms, however, is that it can help to ensure that a group is not homogeneous in opinion and experience.
4. Support and training: extra support would yield positive results
There are many resources available to charity trustees but identifying which of these are useful or high-quality can be difficult. The research identified that charities have an unmet need for easily accessible support and training materials.
5. Digital: digital advances impact everyone, but not everyone understands them
Digital covers a wide range of charity functions and is interpreted differently by trustees depending on their expertise and the relevance of various elements of technology to their charities.
6. Climate change: charities want to do their bit
While not officially a priority issue for most charities, climate change and sustainability considerations are increasing in relevance and importance.
Michael Izza, ICAEW's CEO, Alison Taylor, CEO of CAF Bank and Charity Services, and Daniel Chan, Chair of ICAEW’s Charity Committee and a Director at PwC, introduced the report on 4 March 2022. Watch the recording and a panel discussion on three of the key challenges facing the sector: financial resilience, board diversity and sustainability.
In the foreword to the report, Izza says: “This examination of the challenges currently facing charities and trustees, and insights into how these challenges might be turned into opportunities, will be critical in helping charities to evolve, adapt and continue to deliver meaningful results. It is in all our interests that we get this right."
Key takeaways of the webinar include:
The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) is a leading charity operating in the UK and internationally. Our work connects and enables the vital organisations, institutions and individuals working to ensure that everyone has a stake in the future.View
ICAEW's free online training provides a learning space where you can explore the knowledge and skills required to be an effective charity trustee through a range of reading materials, video recordings and reflective activities.View
ICAEW Volunteers is a dedicated website launched with CABA to connect charities with finance professionals looking for volunteer roles. The service is free for all not-for-profit organisations and volunteers to use. Post or find a volunteer role today.View
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