With almost 170,000 registered charities in the UK and a combined income of £77 billion, the sector is large and busy.
We interviewed executives representing a wide range of charities, and they shared their current concerns, which fall into the categories listed below.
Income and public confidence
Everyone we spoke to cited income as one of the biggest issues. This is clearly a complex area, affected by public confidence, as well as other factors.
Recent events have dented some specific reputations but sadly the sector has suffered a degree of tarnish.
For charities relying on funding from public bodies there are added concerns surrounding continuity of contracts, prices and an overall reduction of services.
Having a clear income generation strategy, characterised by focus and a deep understanding of audience, is essential.
Whilst we understand the need to maximise income, we also believe that making the best use of whatever income is generated is key. This includes reducing costs and applying resources appropriately.
Complex approaches and procedures
Several people raised the topic of the complexity of running charities. Charities vary in what they do and whom they serve, but regulators and other legislation govern all charities. It’s a challenging landscape.
Many people mentioned the need for an approach to processes that meets compliance requirements without hampering the work of the charity. One individual felt that processes had become overly–long, and were designed in a knee-jerk fashion, wasting precious time and money. Worse still, it was felt that poorly-designed processes could result in further reduced public confidence.
One Chief Executive mentioned the prevalence of mergers. Seen particularly as a ‘cure’ for funding pressures, our interviewee felt that there is a danger of all mergers being seen as good, and not merging seen as bad.
Our position is to examine strategic intent to determine if merger is the way forward. If charities decide to merge, we recommend an organisational diagnosis of each party, the results of which can be used to create an integrated way forward.
Not every charity will be affected in the same way and, as we write, the future remains uncertain, but some charities will need to take steps. Almost all of our interviewees felt that their work would be affected and that they now need to have plans in place.
Charities are working in a more challenging environment than ever. Strategic clarity and customer-focus, with simple and transparent approaches is key.
The ability to plan and manage change and demonstrable improvement is equally important.
Ad Esse has worked with a wide-range of charities; if you would like to know about their quests for customer-focus, improvement and better business performance, please contact us on 0116 478 8258 or read our case studies at www.ad-esse.com