UK charities are being forced by the pandemic to reassess how they work: in terms of service delivery and raising funds.
The prospects appear bleak. A report in May suggested that one in ten UK charities would be forced to cease operating entirely due to collapsing funds. For charities that may have relied on social interactions—the familiar fun runs, bake sales, and charity shops—restrictions have had a huge impact.
With decreased resources and furloughed staff, charities are scrambling for core funding just to stay afloat. It’s grimly ironic that many now find themselves spending more and more time on grant applications, with decreasing chances of success. A survey carried out by Brevio in September 2020 revealed that at least £440m had been spent by charities in the UK in attempts to secure funding.
One in eight charities (13 per cent) reported spending the equivalent of three working days a week (21 hours or more) on grant applications since March this year. This makes up 60 per cent of the average working week and equates to over £20,350* a year in potential staff time per charity – collectively costing the third sector £442 million annually. But this massive expenditure of time and money is not a new phenomenon that emerged with Covid-19. For decades, the charity sector has discussed how inefficient and complicated the current model is, with every application demanding charities start from scratch, often asking many of the same questions in different ways.
At The Big Pivot, a webinar recently hosted by Prospect and Brevio, Peter Laing, CEO of east-London based community charity The Renewal Programme, described how for a small charity like his, “the amount of time and effort [in filling out applications] isn’t proportionate to the outcome very often.” He went onto explain that: “Funders want so many different things, I’ve filled out forms [applying] for small amounts – less than £10,000 – that have reams and reams of questions, and I’ve filled out applications for £50,000 that have got one side of A4.”
Laing explained that Covid has had a significant impact for his organisation, which amongst many services, provides a vital food bank for people living in deprivation in Newham. He expects the Renewal Programme will lose up to £100,000 in funding this year due to Covid.
For him, aid from funders with building resilience was…