Southampton: Charity crisis highlighted at Paris Smith webinars

77% of attendees at the recent Paris Smith charity webinars believe their fundraising over the Christmas period will be hit by Covid-19.

This worrying statistic was uncovered during the Paris Smith Charity Support Week series of webinars that ran from October 12-16. The event delivered daily webinars covering critical topics for the sector, including fundraising, redundancies, restructures, home working and governance. Speakers included Amanda Tincknell, Cranfield Trust CEO and Richard Turner, iFundraiser. Over 700 charity professionals signed up for the sessions.

The precarious nature of the sector was further emphasised when 64% of attendees cited their main source of income as government funding or trust/grant bodies. While 31% rely on donations from individuals, only 2% have corporate partners.

In terms of charities navigating beyond Covid-19, 50% of attendees felt that their biggest barrier to success would be their ability – or rather inability – to be agile. A further 35% cited cash flow. The charities showed great faith in their existing leadership, with just 9% claiming that poor leadership would be a barrier for them.

Nick Vaughan, senior partner and head of charities at Paris Smith: “Covid-19 has dealt a monumental blow to charities across the globe. Even before the effects of Covid-19 were felt, government funds were becoming difficult to obtain. There are more hoops than ever to jump through and the sector is now heavily regulated. The Charity Commission expects charities to act like businesses in areas such as health and safety and employment. There’s a lot for charities to deal with. Despite all of that the sector remains resilient and ready to face these challenges.”

The firm has championed the sharing of ideas and best practice among charities in its region for many years. This support was formalised in 2013 by the creation of the Paris Smith Charity Forum. As a free platform, the Forum facilitates the exchange of information and ideas between chief executives / trustees of charities, Paris Smith and a select team of professionals in the sector. It offers members regular webinars on relevant topics, as well as a ‘Connect’ facility where individual advice can be sought directly from professionals with first-hand knowledge of the third sector.

Nick Vaughan: “We’ve helped in excess of 400 charities with various issues over the years through our Forum. I’m excited that our first virtual conference has enabled us to reach some new charities – and we very much hope to continue supporting them through Forum membership.”