Charities optimistic despite pandemic pressures More than a third of charities have reported feeling positive about their prospects as the country recovers from the pandemic. A survey by Pro Bono Economics found that 37% of charities felt more positive about their situation between April and June this year when compared to the previous three months. This optimism comes despite two-thirds of charities facing a hike in demand for their services over the same period, as well as staff shortages due to the ‘pingdemic’. The latest edition of the COVID Charity Tracker by PBE, in partnership with Charity Finance Group and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, found that: In total, 37% of charities felt more positive about their operating environment between April and June compared with the previous three months, while 25% felt less positive and 38% felt no change. Two-thirds of charities (66%) experienced an increase in demand for their services between April and June this year. Six in 10 charities (60%) reported members of their workforce self-isolating or affected by a member of their household self-isolating due to the pingdemic in July and August. In the week prior to the Charity Tracker survey going live in July, there were an estimated 850,000 Covid infections and almost 700,000 had been ‘pinged’ by the NHS Covid-19 app in England alone. With rising demand on services and staff forced to isolate, over half of charities (52%) said the pingdemic impacted service delivery. In a positive sign for the post-pandemic future, the survey found charities were slightly more likely to have increased spending in the period from April to June this year, when compared with January to March. These rises have mostly been driven by expenditure on the workforce, with almost three in ten (28%) reporting growth in payroll costs and a quarter (25%) saying they had spent more on staff training and development. Charities also look to be continuing to capitalise on the shift to digital during the pandemic - almost half of respondents (44%) reported increased spending on digital technology and IT equipment in the previous quarter. According to the survey, almost a quarter of charities (23%) still have staff furloughed, slightly below the national rate of 28%, while half of these charities reported that less than 5% of their workforce is affected. Encouragingly, most of the charities surveyed do not expect to see job losses because of furlough ending. Only 7% of charities expect the end of furlough to have a negative impact on the size of their workforce, with just 1% classifying this expected impact as “significant”. Anoushka Kenley, Director of Research and Policy at Pro Bono Economics, said: “It is really encouraging to see charities starting to feel more optimistic having had to face so many challenges brought on by the pandemic. It is testament to the resilience of the sector that many organisations are looking positively to the future after such a tough period. “But there are still a large number of charities grappling with the devastating effects of the pandemic as demand for their services continues to surge, alongside a squeeze on their resources due to 18 months of lockdowns and restrictions.” Daniel Fluskey, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, said: “Over the summer we have seen more areas of charity fundraising return which has been really welcome and positive in being able to keep up the engagement with loyal supporters. However, for many, it is a tentative return with continued uncertainty over the long-term, meaning that it is harder for charities to be able to plan with full confidence. “We hope that the more optimistic feeling reported in this research means that organisations are able to look ahead to a successful period of fundraising where we are able to reach out to people in ways that have been restricted over the last 18 months.”Roberta Fusco, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Finance Group, said: “The pressures of increased demand and restricted budgets brought about by the pandemic are continuing to be felt by many charities, but thanks to their resilience and relentless focus on people and causes they exist to support, many have taken steps to adapt and plan for the future. “Increasing expenditure on technology and IT and in staff development is key if charities are to remain resilient and able to manage the continuing challenge.” For further information, please contact: PBE Press Office at or 07715 073433. Follow Pro Bono Economics at (@ProBonoEcon) and Matt Whittaker (@MattWhittakerPB) on Twitter. Read more about these Charity Tracker survey findings here.