Founder of Charity Excellence, Ian McLintock, provides some data-driven resources examining the impact of COVID-19 within the charity sector
Founder of Charity Excellence, Ian McLintock, has contributed this guest piece on the Charity Excellence Insight Briefing and the impact of COVID-19 on the sector
This analysis uses Charity Excellence Data Store results, to provide a sector overview of the impact of COVID19, based on just under 2000 assessment questionnaires.
Pre-COVID19 - the dashboard metrics have been indicating serious concerns for a long time. Ability To Deliver assesses how realistic planning is. This and the Sustainability and Strategy metrics were amber. That is, the majority of charities assessed they were not doing well in these areas. Fundraising and the closely allied communications function were also amber.
Lack of funding was an obvious issue, but many of the indicators related to how effectively fundraising was being managed. The weaknesses in digital are well recognised, but there were weaknesses in communications across all areas. We were internally focussed and making often unrealistic plans, sustainability was weak and fundraising and communications, not as effective, as these could be. Overstretched management and the need to focus limited resources on front-line services, came at a price - we were not well placed to cope with a major crisis.
The Crisis - in early March, 3 COVID19 preparedness assessments, 2 immediate response toolkits and an emergency funder list were created. Initially, 2 indicators were red and the other amber, but charities reacted rapidly. The 2 toolkits and funder list were viewed 25k times in two weeks. By the end of March, 4 additional COVID assessments had been created. One metric remained at red, 4 were amber and 2 green.
Despite the desperate shortage of resources, charities appear to have responded very quickly to make the best use of the limited resources they had. The 2 recovery phase toolkits and COVID19 funder database, of 650+ emergency funders, were also created. System registration increased 2000% to 100+ per day, compared to late 2019, although this would have been much higher if sector bodies had made charities aware of its availability.
Current - the system assesses all areas, including long term issues and those activities not impacted by COVID19, but despite the short time period assessed, the number of green indicators has fallen. However, there are now no red COVID indicators and the scores for the 4 at amber have significantly increased. This indicates that the crisis is degrading sector performance, but also a growing effectiveness in responding to it. Having said that, half of the user feedback scores are 10/10, indicating the CEF is having real impact, so it’s not possible to say definitively that these results are fully reflective of the sector overall.
Future - looking forward, the COVID-19 funder database shows that a substantial amount of the funding is not new, but ‘repurposed’. Funders have understandably committed future funding to the crisis, but that will not now be available for its original purpose. A recession seems likely and that would reduce income streams, potentially significantly. The emergency funding being made available will buy us time, but there isn’t nearly enough and it seems unlikely there will be.
However, the data store results identify opportunities we can exploit. There’s been no interest in using this at sector level, but by joining the 1000s of charities in the CEF community, you’ll be able to assess your entire organisation in half a day, with access to the largest resource base in the charity sector, including the COVID19 toolkits and funder database; everything is free.