Charities Threatened by Reduced Income and Surge in Demand for Services – states New Report

Posted on: 28 May 2009

Charities fear the impact of reduced income and increased demand for their services, according to a new survey carried out by Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for Nonprofit Management in association with Irish Charities Tax Research Limited and The Ireland Funds.

The survey, conducted to ascertain charity organisations’ income base, determine the reliance on different fundraising methods and identify how organisations were adjusting their fundraising planning in the context of the current economic climate, was carried out at the beginning of 2009 before the full impact of the economic downturn became clear.

The report reveals that:

  • Three-quarters (74.9%) of 267 responding charities believed demand for their services would increase this year;
  • Almost two thirds (64%) expected a decrease in overall income in 2009;
  • Almost half (46.4%) of those who had volunteers working in their organisation stated that volunteer numbers had increased in the past two years;
  • Despite the recession only a fraction of charities (6.7%) believed that volunteer numbers would decrease;
  • 85% of respondents believed their organisations were threatened by the economic downturn, including the possibility that organisations would “either downsize or cease to exist as a result of the economic situation”;

The report states that 58% of the income received by charities in 2008 came from State funding (€459,593m) while private income totalled €348,055m (43.9%). Almost 60 per cent of organisations currently in receipt of State funding expects a decline in funding this year with the majority of charity organisations planning to increase their fundraising activities in 2009, of which running fundraising events is the most popular choice.

Kingsley aikins, the ireland funds, sheila nordon, irish charities tax research ltd with geraldine prizeman and siobhán mcgee of the tcd centre for nonprofit management.
Kingsley Aikins, The Ireland Funds, Sheila Nordon, Irish Charities Tax Research Ltd with Geraldine Prizeman and Siobhán McGee of the Centre for Nonprofit Management.


The report identifies that a key issue for charities is how they can continue to provide quality services to increasing numbers of people with reduced funds. It adds that charities clearly see difficult challenges ahead and whilst some believe that new opportunities may arise most are concerned that they will be unable to meet the new demands facing them in the current economic climate. The reports state that due to this charities are going to have to become more creative and find new ways of dealing with increased demand for services on the one hand and declining income and staff numbers on the other.

In its conclusion, the report puts forward the following questions: “How can Government policy create a more enabling environment for philanthropy and volunteering? And could the Government undertake a special initiative to encourage giving and volunteering in these very difficult times?”

“The findings of this report are stark and represent a huge challenge to charitable organisations and to those whose needs they serve”, stated Director of New Project Development at the TCD’s Centre for Nonprofit Management, Siobhán McGee. “They are dealing with two competing realities – severely reduced income and much-increased demand for their services, and charities are working harder than ever to keep up their work. The report suggests that special supports be considered to enable more volunteering and philanthropy at this time.”

The findings of the survey, its implications for charities and responses to them will be considered at a seminar hosted by the Centre for Nonprofit Management entitled Charitable Fundraising in an Economic Downturn in Trinity College Dublin on Thursday, May 28th.