Report

How the global charity sector is navigating COVID-19

Carol Rudge Carol Rudge

What impact has COVID-19 had on charities around the world? Our latest report shows how different global organisations have responded and outlines how charities can continue to operate and provide for their beneficiaries going forward. 

Few people will not have been touched in some way by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Fortunately for most, it will have been through disruption to ‘normal’ life. But for some individuals, and for causes that are dependent on the work of charities and the wider not-for-profit sector, the impact may be more profound and long term.

The demand for the charity sector’s services has escalated as those who were already struggling – financially, emotionally or in terms of health – felt an increased impact from the lockdown restrictions. This escalation in demand has come at the same time as the charity sector’s ability to deliver its services has been hit. 

Different countries have managed the challenges in a different way, or at least to a different timescale, and this has inevitably caused variations in how societies have been affected. The pandemic is still growing in South America and India, and there has been a resurgence in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia with the need to impose new restrictions and slow down the easing of existing restrictions. Further lockdowns cannot be ruled out, and in the UK we are starting to see local lockdowns where outbreak clusters form.

We've therefore compiled this report to understand more about how coronavirus has affected the charity sector around the world. We reviewed the challenges identified by our member firms in France, Italy and Botswana and spoke to our clients in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and New
Zealand.

Discussions fell broadly into two areas:

  • how do charities continue to operate during the lockdown and provide for their beneficiaries?
  • what is their longer-term strategy to adapt to working in the ‘new normal’? 

Global charity sector and COVID-19 – key findings

Although the timescale and degree have varied, many charities are facing similar challenges regardless of location. The global charity sector has also had to deal with the same challenges as those in non-charity sector organisations. The need to embrace digital technologies at speed and to think laterally about how to achieve remotely what they previously did at the office or face to face with clients and colleagues, has been vital. 

In short, the key findings were as follows:

The impact of, and adaptation to, the pandemic has been felt consistently across the globe

Embracing digital tools and speeding up the adoption of new technologies has enabled charities to continue functioning

Current operating models are less, or no longer, needed – there's been a realisation that less office space is required, more staff can (and want to) work in an agile manner and online meetings can be as effective as in-person ones.

What does the future hold?

As well as exploring the challenges, our report provides insights and recommendations on how best to overcome them and adapt business practices. For example, have charities considered the respective roles of management and the trustees, and how they should be interacting during a time of crisis? Or is there robust financial planning in place and has reverse stress testing been carried out?

While there is a good deal that remains unknown about the future and what the ‘new normal’ will look like, it seems reasonable that some of the measures we face today will remain in place to a lesser degree for some time to come.

Our report will help you understand how your charity may need to adapt in terms of new operating models and engaging with beneficiaries in the future. 

If you would like to discuss this report further, get in touch with Carol Rudge.

Download our report: COVID-19 and the charity sector in a global context [ 2510 kb ]