Covid-19 having a serious impact on charity services
Charities Regulator urges the public to support registered charities
The Charities Regulator has today published a Report into the findings of its Impact on Coronavirus (Covid-19) on Charities Survey. A total of 2,223 responses to the survey were received representing a significant cross-section of Irish registered charities.
“The findings of our survey indicate that the Covid-19 public health emergency is having a very serious impact on registered charities,” said Helen Martin, Chief Executive of the Charities Regulator. “Charities on the front line and others are being called upon to provide services in response to a significant increase in demand from those in need, while at the same time trying to protect their volunteers and staff. As the Regulator, we appreciate the considerable challenges facing the sector and we are taking steps to provide guidance to charities as they try to deal with this crisis.”
Some key findings of the survey are:
- 55% of respondents said their charity’s finances were uncertain or in difficulty.
- While 29% of respondents indicated that their charity did not fundraise, of the 71% of respondents who said that their charities do fundraise, 90% stated that their charities have had to cancel or postpone fundraising for 2020.
- 54% of respondents were concerned that their charity may be unable to continue providing services for more than 6 months. Within this group, approximately 9% of respondents were concerned that they may not be able to provide services for more than 1 month, 28% for more than 3 months and 17% for more than 6 months.
There were also some positive findings from the survey including the following:
- 45% of those surveyed said they felt their charity’s finances were reasonably secure;
- 73% of respondents said their charity trustees continued to communicate via email or by meeting remotely;
- 52% said that they had reached out to other charities to discuss plans to deal with the current situation;
- A number of respondents detailed how their charities were embracing technology and new practices to continue to deliver much needed services where possible and as an alternative means of fundraising.
- 89% of respondents said that due to Coronavirus (Covid-19) they regarded their charity’s annual reporting obligations and maintaining an accurate Register of Charities to be as important as always.
“Good governance of charities is crucial for maintaining public trust and confidence and is particularly important during this public health emergency,” said Helen Martin. “Charities are a sub-set of the wider not-for-profit sector and are registered and regulated by the Charities Regulator. Registered charities need public support at this time. While we appreciate that many well-intentioned people are looking to contribute to society during these unprecedented times, our advice is to link in with an existing registered charity. We have a vibrant and varied charity sector in Ireland and anyone looking to offer their time or money is sure to find an existing registered charity whose purpose and ethos aligns with their own. Before donating time or money to a charity, members of the public should always check the Register of Charities at www.charitiesregulator.ie.”
In response to the crisis, the Charities Regulator has published a Covid-19 FAQs page on www.charitiesregulator.ie. New information videos for charity trustees covering a number of topics including governance within charities have also be published on our website. FAQs and guidance materials will continue to be updated as the situation develops.
In response to the crisis, the deadline for charities that were due to file annual reports with the Regulator over the next few months was extended to 30 June 2020. The Regulator continues to monitor the situation and will consider further measures as appropriate.
The Charities Regulator plans to circulate a second survey in the coming months to further gauge the impact of Covid-19 on registered charities. This survey, along with ongoing engagement with stakeholders, will inform the Charities Regulator’s response to the crisis.
Since the release of this survey, the Department of Rural and Community Development has launched a €40 million package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises. The €40 million package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises consists of a €35 million 'COVID-19 Stability Fund' and a €5 million government commitment to a Philanthropy Fund, (Innovate Together)”Details of the new supports packages put in place by the Department of Rural and Community Developments can be found at www.gov.ie.