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Since the coronavirus pandemic arrived in the UK, the third sector has been impacted significantly with services being postponed and fundraising efforts scaled back. We are starting to see the impact of coronavirus on the sector. Below is a summary of the key research and news stories so far:


There have already been several surveys looking at the impact of coronavirus on charities:

Institute of Fundraising

In partnership with the Charity Finance Group and National Council for Voluntary Organisations, we conducted research on the impact of the crisis on over 500 charities surveyed:

  • Charities are reporting a projected loss of 48% to their voluntary income, and a third wiped off from their total income
  • 52% of charities have reduced existing or previous levels of service, with a further 12% intending to in the future.
  • 83% say that the most important thing for their organisation’s sustainability over the coming 3 to 6 months is access to emergency grant funding.
  • 84% of charities think their organisation could play a role in responding to the coronavirus outbreak, with the majority saying that government funding was needed to help them to do so.
  • 91% of charities surveyed have already or expect to have their cash flow disrupted, with 62% indicating that these would result in reduced charitable activity. 

Pro Bono Economics

  •  90% said they expected Covid-19 to have a negative impact on their ability to meet their charity objectives over the next six months, with nearly half (47%) saying they expected it to be a “large” negative. 
  • 95% said they expected Covid-19 to reduce their income over the coming six months relative to previous plans. 40% said they expected a reduction of up to 25%; 27% thought their income would be 25% to 50% lower; 18% thought the drop would be 50% to 75%; and 10% said they expected income to be down on previous plans by more than 75%.
  • 64% said they’d reduced their activity in a “significant” way.
  • When asked to rate the sufficiency of the government’s financial support for civil society in the face of Covid-19 (where 1 = entirely insufficient and 10 = entirely sufficient), the average score across all respondents was 4.4. 71% scored the response at five or below, with 43% scoring it 1-3 and 8% scoring it 8-10.
  • One-in-ten said they thought it was “likely” that the financial challenge associated with Covid-19 would cause their organisation to stop operating altogether in six months’ time.


Have launched a Charity Health Check which asks 174 charities across England and Wales about changes seen in April across five key markers of financial health. A score above 50 means an improvement.  A score below 50 is a deterioration. 50 means no change. 

  • The score for May was 30.8 out of a maximum 100.This low score shows charities had an extremely bad April and face an enormous financial squeeze.
  • New business and donations are worse for 70% of charities surveyed.
  • Cashflow – a key measure of organisational health which allows bills and wages to be paid – has worsened for 59% in the last month.
  • Reserves have worsened for 61% of charities.
  • Spending on front-line services has remained steady, with 70% of organisations either improving or sustaining expenditure despite the falls in cash, reserves, donations and grants. 


A survey of 116 Bond members found that:

  • 43% believed they would not survive the next six months without urgent additional support as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • One in 10 of the respondents reported that their organisation had made redundancies.
  • 54% had furloughed staff.
  • 28% had asked staff to take temporary pay cuts.
  • 70% of organisations said they expected the crisis to affect their organisational finances this financial year and to start affecting them in the next one.

Pro Bono Economics

Pro Bono Economics is conducting a weekly tracker to find out how coronavirus is affecting charities.

  • 92% said coronavirus has had a negative impact on their ability to meet their charity objectives over the next six months.
  • Two-in-five (39 per cent) respondents said the single biggest issue they were facing was the impact of social distancing on their ability to deliver their services. One-in-three (31 per cent) said that the way in which Covid-19 had affected their ability to fundraise was the biggest single issue.
  • More than half (57 per cent) said they’d reduced their activity in a significant way in response to financial challenge raised by the crisis.
  • When asked to rate the sufficiency of the government’s financial support for civil society in the face of Covid-19 (where 1 = entirely insufficient and 10 = entirely sufficient), the average score across all respondents was 4.3.

Small Charities Coalition (SCC)

SCC published the results of a survey which found eight of ten small charities (80%) have had to alter or drop services. Other findings include:

  • Only one in five (20%) small charities are able to provide normal services because of the pandemic.
  • One in ten small charities expect to make redundancies.
  • Less than four in ten (37%) had set up remote working.

London Plus

Looking specifically at London-based charities, London Plus released research which highlights:

  • Four in five charities are impacted by the coronavirus
  • 43% said they have had staff absences due to coronavirus
  • 59% of respondents agreed coronavirus has had a notable impact upon the sector.

IoF Cymru

survey conducted by IoF Cymru includes data from 91 fundraisers on the impact of the crisis on their organisations:

  • 70% say that they expect their charity will have to make cuts to the services they deliver. 
    • 86% of respondents either have low confidence or no confidence at all that they will be able to achieve their individual financial targets during this financial year.
    • An overwhelming 96% of respondents say the government has not done enough to support charities which are losing fundraising income.
    • Available government scheme are making a difference but there are gaps in funding: 59% of respondents say the proposed government support will help their charity, whilst 41% say that none of the proposed government schemes will help their charity.


In Northern IrelandNICVA published the results of their COVID-19 Impact survey. The key findings are:

  • Nearly every respondent indicated that the crisis was impacting their organisation (98.3% of organisations).
  • Just under a quarter of charities said the pandemic threatens their survival.
  • About forty-five percent (45%) reported they had stopped services and their activities which impact 100 service users a week.


In Northern Ireland, CO3 conducted a survey in partnership with the Institute of Fundraising Northern Ireland:

  • 38% of respondents said their cash flow is in an unstable or very unstable position, with 27% of respondents citing that they have lost £100,000+ of income to date.
  • 32% stated that their organisation is at risk at closing in the next 12 months due to Covid-19.
  • 39% said they have stopped some services, and a further 33% citing that they may have to in the near future.
  • 29% shared they have under two months running costs in the bank.
  • 74% of charity CEOs worried about the poor mental health of staff, 68% stating that their staff are highly anxious due to lack of job security and 54% highly anxious due to increased demand for services.

Directory of Social Change

Directory of Social Change (DSC) has surveyed thousands of charities it supports to understand the impact of coronavirus on the charity sector. Key findings:

  • Half of the charities surveyed said they had been experiencing financial difficulties because of the pandemic with a further 42% expecting to have financial issues soon.
  • More than 6 of every 10 charities surveyed said they were using the governments Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff.
  • Over half of the respondents to the survey say they will close within the next 6 months without additional financial support.

National Lottery Heritage Fund

National Lottery has produced a survey to help understand the impact of coronavirus on the UK heritage sector. Receiving 1,250 replies, the survey finds:

  • 91% of respondents have had to cancel events
  • 69% of heritage organisations have been affected by a loss of revenue.
  • 82% of organisations have reported moderate or high risks to their long-term viability. For charities, this is even higher – 90% of charity, third sector (and private) organisations have reported these risks.
  • About a third (33%) of heritage charities surveyed reported they would be unable to continue past July if current circumstances persist.

Childhood Trust

The Childhood Trust has surveyed child poverty charities in London in relation to the impact of coronavirus. Their research finds:

  • About 40% of child poverty charities in London will have to close within 6 months if they cannot raise the funds they previously forecasted to get prior to coronavirus.
  • Almost 90% of charities report that vulnerable children will go hungry due to the absence of free school meals, the loss of parental earnings and some food shortages.
  • 57% of charities expect that the fallout of coronavirus will leave vulnerable children as risk of abuse.


Conducted 24 phone interviews with a range of charity sector staff. The research found:

  • Income was the overriding concern for all our respondents and this was causing high levels of worry and stress. Staff in some organisations had already been ‘furloughed’ and others were facing this or the more difficult decision of redundancies. For many there is a concern that they will struggle to remain relevant or visible as their cause is not directly connected to the current crisis and that income would be damaged in the short and long term as a result.
  • For some charities there is a massively increased need from service users. Staff are really worried about their clients, and are hearing and seeing heart-breaking stories. This is particularly difficult when service users don’t understand what is going on, or can’t keep themselves safe. Even if charities are managing to keep up their own services, the knock-on effect of other services closing or being reduced is causing tension e.g. street shelters.


  • Lighthouse Construction Industry Charity has seen calls to their Construction Industry Helpline increase by 25% a week during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Matthew 25 Mission, a homeless charity in Eastbourne, has seen a 50% increase in people using their help centre at the start of April.
  • Age UK report that demands for its services ‘have gone through the roof’ despite having to furlough 70% of its staff.  

As published by institute of fundraising

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