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Illustration by Sarah Fay

Society

How Will Coronavirus Affect The Charity Sector?

By Serena Haththotuwa

The charitable sector is one of the worst hit sectors by the global pandemic. Many charities run primarily on donations and grants, often relying on fundraising events, grant opportunities and funding from their retail shops. However, the pandemic and government restrictions over the past year have meant that charitable events and opportunities to raise money or awareness have been compromised or prohibited. 

The effects of the pandemic on the charitable sector has gone largely unnoticed amid the sea of businesses struggling to stay open. Although the charity sector has adapted extremely well to the pandemic, as more people lose their jobs and mental health becomes an increasing concern, most charities are seeing a dramatic increase in the demand of their services whilst being one of the worst hit sectors. Despite this, charities have had to adapt quickly to the changes in government restrictions.

In a survey conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation, it was found that over the pandemic the top 5 changes UK charities have made to adapt to the current crisis are: working remotely from home, finding alternative ways to provide services, finding new ways to reach beneficiaries, refocusing the charity’s activities and entering new collaborations with other organisations and people. It is clear that despite an increase in demand and having less resources, the charitable sector has been dynamic in their approach to functioning through the pandemic.

In addition to an increase in demand, the likelihood of charitable giving has been affected by the pandemic with many people losing their jobs and others preparing for a global recession. Although charities have adapted well, they will be further tested by the global economic situation.

One area of the charitable sector that will need to adapt quickly and seek sustainable sources of funding is the environmental and conservation sector. The climate and biodiversity crisis is only getting worse, and although the pandemic has contributed to a dramatic decrease in carbon emissions over the past year, the effect of this has been almost insignificant in the wider struggle for a solution. Conservationists rely on adequate funding yet the amount of funding being received pre-pandemic was already scarce. Scholars such as Javid Kavousi believe that as societal and political priorities change as a result of the pandemic, the funding for conservation will collapse at a time it is needed the most. Yet, as the world returns to a ‘new normal’, we will see carbon emissions return to high volumes and people less likely to donate to environmental charities. 

In sum, as the UK gets ready for a ‘new normal’ in a time of hope and possibility, charities must look to more permanent solutions for fundraising to coincide with their rise in demand and fall in donations. For some charity sectors such as environmental funding there will be a clear struggle to get support in this new society. In addition, as more people are made redundant and demand for charities rise, the need for sustainable funding will be crucial. The pandemic has shown us the importance of the charity sector. Despite carbon emissions decreasing during the pandemic and unemployment leading to more volunteers in the sector – these events are only a dent in the amount of work that is needed to get environmental and people-centred charities to where they were pre-pandemic.