In April 2020, we released our ‘Going Viral’ report, exploring the initial response to the Covid-19 outbreak by charities. The report detailed the many challenges as well as innovations that were emerging from the sector over those early weeks. However, charities (and the people we interviewed) were still in crisis mode and, of course, we still had no idea of how long the crisis would last and what challenges were to come.
For this reason, we felt it was high time to revisit and delve into the experiences of charities in the sector again to take a longer-term perspective on the pandemic and its impact on the sector. In May and June 2021 we spoke to nineteen charities or experts via Zoom or telephone, to explore their experiences but also their hopes and fears for the future. The charities spoken to were a mix of large, medium, and small in terms of turnover and people. We included a cross-section of sectors, including health, social welfare, poverty, humanitarian and armed forces charities. Of course, as a qualitative research project, we could not aim to provide a representative view of the sector, but hope to have offered a diverse range of views.
The experiences of charities in the last 18 months and their predictions going forward, not surprisingly reflect wider society with a few having grown, the majority in survival mode and some struggling to survive. It should be noted that the people/charities who have fared better may have been keener to be interviewed than those who have had a more negative experience. We report on the nature of these charities, the challenges faced and solutions, the charity sector body response and government, and the charities predictions for the future.
“Charities that have failed to deliver support remotely have struggled. So have those who have relied on funding for medical research, as medical research has been reprioritised to Covid. Those that are on the back foot are the ones regarding inequalities in society. If these inequalities hadn’t been talked about then those charities would have been left behind. Some local charities have failed as they have been unable to adapt.”
Thank you to all the charities who took part in our research. We have decided to maintain complete anonymity about those we interviewed to avoid any possibility that their often candid and thoughtful comments could be attributed to them.