Navigating Change

This analysis by the NCVO reveals the financial instability of small charities in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crash and an increasingly challenging environment in which to deliver vital services

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This research documents the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on small and medium-sized charities. Through an analysis of NCVO’s data on charity financial accounts, it explores how they’ve navigated the changing financial landscape between the years 2008/09 to 2013/14.


Navigating Change offers an overview of the voluntary sector and the policy landscape and comments on how commissioning practices, individual giving and societal trends will impact them.


Key findings include:

  • Over half of small and medium-sized charities experienced a rise or fall in income of more than one fifth between 2008/09 and 2013/14
  • The income mix of small and medium-size charities has changed from one where government and individuals contributed to overall income in roughly equal measures to one where most of the income came from individuals
  • The rise in earned income was a result of an increase in both charitable trading and fundraising trading between 2008/09 and 2012/13 for all income bands


Small and medium-sized charities are struggling to compete and remain vulnerable to the unpredictability of funding decisions. This analysis shows the policy environment favours the larger organisations, who have the resources to bid and win the remaining government funding.


Recommendations for both independent and public funders include the need to focus on creating long-term resilience to help charities build their capacity and ability to get income from multiple sources.

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