What’s next for charities in 2021?

January 25, 2021

by Aidan Sutton Tax Partner and Charities Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Email +44 (0) 7841 490 881

by Daniel Chan Director, PwC United Kingdom

Email +44 (0)7808 035470

Many charities have taken some very difficult decisions over the course of a challenging year, faced with higher levels of demand but lower levels of resources. But the last year has also been characterised as a period of accelerated change, not least in terms of working practices and the use of technology.

From speaking with charity leaders and trustees, there are key themes which can be taken forward to 2021.

  • Charities have shown their agility and ability to adapt. The way charities have adapted through the pandemic should inspire confidence in charities themselves to successfully deliver change. Many charities may not have felt able to implement the change needed at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic yet they were able to adapt and respond effectively to this.
  • Charities, and the people involved, demonstrated immense resilience and resolve to get through the situation together. However, this is not sustainable and cannot go on indefinitely - and maintaining a focus on looking after their people is vitally important.
  • Charities should ensure that their business model is fit for the longer term, particularly considering the wider economic environment, and assess their financial viability alongside their strategy and strategic priorities. Strategic organisational change may be needed to ensure that charities can continue to deliver for their beneficiaries.
  • As we navigate through our current circumstances and society starts to work, live and play in a different way, there is an opportunity to drive greater innovation; both within charities and in collaboration and partnership with others. A culture of continuous improvement is healthy for organisations to stay resilient.
  • The defining, measuring and reporting of impact continues to be important - something we have continued to support charities with through our annual charity reporting workshop as part of our Building Public Trust programme. There should be greater consideration of the work that charities are engaged in and its impact. This will lead charities to making decisions that puts the beneficiaries at the heart of everything they do.

2021 brings continued immediate uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic and the end of the Brexit transition period. Other challenges remain, including increased competition for funding, rising regulatory scrutiny, the shifting geopolitical landscape and impact of climate change, to name but a few. All of these issues play to the importance of continuing to do the right thing and reinforcing trust through having a positive impact on beneficiaries and demonstrating this to their stakeholders.

While there are risks and challenges, there are also opportunities. The COVID-19 pandemic has been hugely disruptive, but it has also highlighted the important contribution that charities make to people and communities across the country, and how charities are #nevermoreneeded.

Charities should continue to do what they do best: place their charitable purpose at the heart of everything they do, maintain financial resilience, disrupt and innovate, collaborate and partner, challenge and be vocal about their cause.

If you have any questions or would like to understand more about how we can help you and your charity on your journey, please contact us.

by Aidan Sutton Tax Partner and Charities Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Email +44 (0) 7841 490 881

by Daniel Chan Director, PwC United Kingdom

Email +44 (0)7808 035470