By Deep South Media account director Debbie Moore
More than a year into this gruelling and often heartbreaking pandemic, it’s time to take a look at one of the sectors hit hardest by Covid-19 and the surrounding rules and regulations.
Charities have undoubtedly been hit as hard as any sector by Covid-19, with a devastating loss of funds aligned with an increased demand for their services.
A lack of opportunity to stage the usual fund-raising events – other than a few high profile ones such as Captain Sir Tom Moore’s walk – and an enforced separation of charity leaders and trustees during our lockdowns has led to a more fractured sector.
A drying up of cash flow has certainly damaged the prospects of some of the smaller, hyper-local organisations which provide vital work in their communities, often to some of the most vulnerable people.
The larger, national bodies – often benefiting from valuable legacies which, given the year that’s just gone, will probably have increased – will be ok, pulling their horns in a bit and ploughing on regardless.
It’s a sector that seems to have somewhat slipped under the radar, with much of the nation’s spotlight on business, retail, hospitality, the arts and sport – which is a great shame as charitable organisations are often the ones at the coalface of helping the public.
Given that the Third Sector is officially valued at £17 billion a year with around 168,000 registered charities in England and Wales this is something we should be taking absolutely seriously.
Helen Stephenson, chief executive of the Charity Commission, the Government’s charities watchdog which registers and regulates charities in England and Wales, told a virtual conference earlier this year that the pandemic had taken a devastating toll on the charity sector, although it could be years before the true nature of the full impact of the crisis would become known.
With less money forthcoming yet demand for services skyrocketing, some charities were making painful decisions to reduce or suspend their work entirely as they were unable to finance them.
Last April the Government pledged £750 million to ensure voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations could continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak.
There were also various other official and private emergency funds and grants available for charities, community groups and other organisations.
But as we emerge from this latest three-month lockdown, most of these funding opportunities have now been closed to applications and charities will be needing to stand on their own.
And that means its time for us all to do our bit again and give what we can when we can. We suspect, with some lockdown regulations continuing until at least mid-June, it will be slow progress with regard to the re-establishment of fund-raising events. Indeed, many of this summer’s occasions have already been cancelled, postponed or much reduced.
Thus it is also time for charities to start shouting about themselves from the rooftop, reminding us of the great work they carry out. That is a brilliant way of encouraging people to offer them support.
At Deep South Media we represent a number of charitable organisations and we are constantly amazed at the incredible helping hand they offer to the needy and vulnerable – and the brilliant and distinctive ideas dreamt up by fundraisers and supporters.
It’s going to be a long road back, and a few charities have already made the move to merge with others, but the extreme resilience shown by these organisations is surely a good sign.
To find out more about how Deep South Media can work with charities, take a look at out services guide by using the menu at the top of the page or visiting https://www.deepsouthmedia.co.uk/services/