Earlier this month the Lloyds Bank Foundation published ‘Facing Forward: How small to medium sized charities can adapt to survive’. In his introduction, Lloyds CEO, Paul Street, outlines the intention of the report, which is to;

acknowledge the seismic shifts we’re witnessing politically, economically, socially and technologically. But use this as a means to provoke conversations about what charities can do to respond, adapt and get on the front foot for the years to come”

The report outlines ten key trends to watch:

  1. The road to Brexit

Some charities will experience direct impact, such as loss of EU funding streams or difficulty retaining EU staff. Others are likely to be affected by changes to UK regulation and economic consequences.

  1. Political showdowns and slowdowns

With Brexit consuming policy attention, other issues may be harder to campaign on. Ensuring their issues are on the agenda will be a key concern for smaller charities – effective relationships with local MPs and councillors will be vital.

  1. Unpredictable economy

The economy may be subject to significant change, depending on whether the UK secures a new (permanent or interim) trade deal with the EU. Smaller charities need a Plan B in case of worsening economic outlook.

  1. Local government at a tipping point

Smaller charities will need to fight hard to have a seat at the table and be involved in discussions about the future of local services if those they serve are not to be left behind.

  1. Reshaping of public services

Facing further cuts, many public services will be put under significant additional pressure. Smaller charities will have a key role to play in raising the voices of communities to ensure support for the services they need.

  1. Social divides

The Leave vs Remain debates exposed sharp divisions in British society, something that charities were already well aware of. Locally based smaller charities are often best-placed to facilitate community events and engagement, as well as represent their communities in wider discussions and this is likely to become increasingly important.

  1. The way we work

The rise of the gig economy and job instability looks set to continue. With technological change likely to automate more jobs in future, this could have a profound effect on communities that charities work with, not least making it harder to support people into employment, out of poverty or homelessness. It will also have an impact on charities as employers themselves too.

  1. Beyond the internet

Technological progress is accelerating. Smaller charities need to creatively explore options to be able to benefit from technological developments, such as rethinking how they work with corporates and volunteers.

  1. Public trust

High public trust in local charities has not diminished, despite falling levels of trust in the sector as a whole. Communicating impact, and being as open and transparent as possible will continue to be vital parts of charities’ work. Ensuring trustees stay in touch with regulatory developments and address any vulnerabilities will also be important.

  1. A renewed vision for civil society

The Prime Minister has set out her vision of a “shared society” in which government takes a more active role in supporting the voluntary sector. The voluntary sector however, needs to proactively shape its own future and ensure that the voices that are heard are not just the loudest and biggest. It’s imperative that smaller charities assert and articulate themselves, their role and value nationally and in their communities.

The report also summarises seven steps small charities can take to help them prepare for the future:

  1. Planning ahead
  2. Understanding sustainability
  3. Matching income to activities
  4. Exploring new income streams
  5. Collaborating by choice
  6. Digital capabilities
  7. Sustaining staff

The full report is well worth a read as it’s packed with recommendations and tips for charities, it is also essential reading for anyone about to embark on a fundraising strategy to see their organisation through the next 3-5 years.

A copy of the report is available here