Three challenges facing UK charities in a post-pandemic crisis

Photo by Aaron Doucett on Unsplash

Covid Aid, like many other charities in the UK, relies on donations and voluntary support to provide care for communities in need. The funding they receive ensures people living with the ongoing effects of the pandemic have access to expert advice and information as well as a community network to share their experiences. Funding also helps Covid Aid build relationships and boost the services of other partner organisations including Marie Curie and Asthma & Lung UK.  

But accessing financial support has become increasingly difficult in 2022 as the cost of living crisis threatens incomes and produces new challenges for fundraising. Added to this is the public view that Covid is a thing of the past - something we must “learn to live with” - despite thousands of deaths and an estimated two million people living with Long Covid across the country. 

Here are the three major challenges facing UK charities in 2022.

1. Generating Income 

Covid Aid is not alone in facing financial difficulties. Research by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) looked into the charity landscape for 2022 from the perspective of 547 UK charity leaders. Of those, 58% said that generating income and finding financial stability was one of their top three challenges for the year ahead. A similar percentage (59%) are concerned that people will not donate to their cause because of the cost of living crisis. With less disposable income and food and fuel prices rising, charities cannot rely on the monetary support of their communities. These concerns are warranted as one in seven people said they intend to reduce their charity donations this year.

In October 2021, the Charity Commission published a report on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on charities showing that 60% had experienced a loss of income. CAF’s research in 2022 suggests that this loss of income is likely to continue. 

2. Managing Expenditures

With less income from fundraising activities and community donations, charities are having to restrict their outgoings in order to stay afloat. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ survey, published in March 2022, tracked the pandemic’s impact on voluntary, community and social organisations throughout 2020 and 2021. It found that nearly half of the organisations surveyed had reverted to using cash reserves to continue operating during the pandemic and almost two thirds anticipated future financial difficulties. By December 2021, 28% were still reporting a deteriorating financial position.

The report also asked whether these organisations felt they had sufficient reserves to survive another month and what the likelihood was of them operating in 12 months time: One in seven believed this would be unlikely when asked in October 2020, though concerns eventually eased. Charity leaders in the aforementioned CAF survey had a more negative outlook for the year ahead. Over one third (35%) believed their organisation would struggle to survive altogether. These figures reveal the true extent of financial anxieties and the threatened longevity for many UK charities in the current climate. Low incomes and low bank balances are limiting the services these organisations can provide to the detriment of the individuals who need them most.

3. Meeting Increased Demands

Despite these financial struggles, the need for charity support continues to rise: 46% of organisations saw an increased demand for their services despite a significant drop in the resources they were able to provide. This is true for Covid Aid who are experiencing their highest volume of website traffic since launching in May 2021. It’s unsurprising then that 70% of charity bosses are worried about potential issues arising from the high demand for services and the struggles to meet them. Charities risk being overwhelmed by an influx of people requiring support when they don’t have sufficient means to support them.

The future for Covid Aid

Covid Aid has launched an Annual Appeal for donations in response to the challenges they are facing in 2022. Following a successful year one during which they supported over 107,000 individuals via their website, created an awards-nominated Support Community platform, and launched free, online micro-courses containing self-management techniques, they are requesting people give what they can to allow their work to continue. They aim to expand their services, acknowledging the lack of support available for Covid and Long Covid patients and their families, while promoting the need for further research into the virus’ impact on public health and wellbeing.

Founder and Chief Executive Michael MacLennan said: "In May 2021 we were delighted to, with our first Annual Report, celebrate the amazing efforts of our team, volunteers, and community members to have so much and supported so many.

"With more than two million in the UK now living with Long Covid, and thousands still dying, the need for support is arguably stronger as other organisations shift their focus away on to other issues. It is only through the generous support of the public that we have been able to support more than 125,000 people to date. It is crucial that people get involved, donate, and support the charity however they can."

To support Covid Aid, you can make a monthly donation, or a one off payment through their website.

Covid Aid is reliant on YOUR donations to provide support to those hit by Long Covid, grief and bereavement, and other Covid-related issues