2019: Optimism and uncertainty among small charity leaders 

By Annette McGill

Small charities are optimistic about their prospects in 2019, despite increasing uncertainty. The majority (84%) of small charity chiefs expect to maintain or increase organisational income in 2019 and over three quarters say they plan to help more people. 

But at the same time, as two thirds small charity leaders reported more uncertainty in their operating environments than in previous years. And well over two thirds said they had struggled to comply with new regulation and best practice over the past 12 months. 

The findings are based on research among 371 sector leaders, released in a sector insight report published by the Garfield Weston Foundation.

The Foundation published the report to mark the opening of applications for the 2019 Weston Charity Awards. The awards support frontline charities working in the areas of community, welfare and youth and will provide twenty winning charities with a year of leadership coaching through the Pilotlight Programme, along with £6,500 in unrestricted funding. Pilotlight is an award-winning charity that connects business members with charitable organisations to help charities become more effective and sustainable.

The 2019 application round opened on December 3 and will close on January 11, 2019. Charities with incomes under £5 million in the North of England, the Midlands and in Wales can apply. To find out how to apply, visit the Weston Charity Awards website.

Highlights of the Weston Charity Awards Small Charity Leader Insight Report 2018/19: 

  • Increased optimism - Two in five small charities expect income to rise, and around half expect to maintain current levels. Only one in eight forecast a drop in income during 2019, compared to a third at this point last year. Nearly four in five say they plan to help more people in 2019 compared to nearly three in five at the end of 2017. 
  • Changing environment - Four in five of charity leaders say local people provide good or excellent levels of support but most (82%) said they didn’t get enough support from central government and nearly half said local government support was insufficient. 
  • Challenges - Over a quarter of charities had to deal with the loss of a major funding source. 
  • Job satisfaction - Four out of five respondents said they would recommend working for a small charity to a friend. 

The full 2018 Small Charity Leaders Survey (PDF) is available for download from the Weston Garfield website.