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Trends in the third sector for 2019: is the future bright?

17.01.2019

The NCVO have recently released their outlook for ‘The Road Ahead’ for 2019. The report reviews the third sector’s operating environment and marks out the ‘forces and trends that are shaping the sector and are likely to have an impact on voluntary organisations in the future’. Whilst most of the trends highlighted won’t come as a surprise, it still identifies the turbulent times that charities are currently working in.

Now onto the first trend for 2019. Is it possible that you can read something that doesn’t talk about Brexit? Sorry, but you won’t escape it in this blog either, although we’ll try to keep it brief. Carried forward from the previous years’ report Brexit remains a cloud of uncertainty for the economy and third sector. This will undoubtedly impact charities internal business with potential budget and revenue squeeze, but also an external increase in the demand for their services as individuals ‘struggle to make ends meet’. Whilst this is a bleak outlook for the year ahead, the report highlights that the ‘civil society has a history of responding to the greatest challenges. Looking back, there is not one occasion when charities and their volunteers haven’t stepped up’. This indicates how vital the third sector is to our society and our responsibility to support and be part of ‘building the future of our country’.

Another trend seen in 2018 is the ageing population and the intergenerational divides that are still present in our communities. This challenge seems likely that it will be a long term feature facing charities. Here charities are faced with a conflict of moving ahead with the times whilst not leaving the older generations behind. This will have significant implications for charities strategies moving forward. Interestingly the report suggests that ‘many of the problems currently faced by our society are caused by the absence of meaningful connections between individuals, and between individuals and communities’. Therefore working more closely to develop community and working with a shared goal to unite different areas of a society could be a key focus for third sector organisations. Whilst also reinforcing charities role in ‘providing a voice, acting as a channel for people to speak up and have a say in the decisions that affect them’.

In line with an ageing population, there may also be a need for further education in regards to technology and the digital age. The NCVO highlights the reduction in cash donations that charities are still reliant on and also the impact of fourth industrial revolution. Recent reports have suggested that charities were no more than merely bystanders and the NCVO report highlights ways in which charities can take advantage and seek out opportunities within this space to avoid falling behind. To this point Donate The Change is hoping to support organisations struggling to adapt to the speed of change with our revolutionary and frictionless donation service. We open the door to organisations who might find updating their fundraising methods daunting or out of reach. Our service is free and will be open to charities of all sizes as we recognise that there are enough barriers facing charities and we want to make fundraising as easy as possible.

As our society becomes more scrutinous of charities it is important that they continue to operate under their defined values, and also are open and transparent about their activities. We hope that with a fully auditable donation mechanic it will help to alleviate the burden of demonstrating how they raise and spend funds.
As the NCVO report states there is a feeling of deja vu as many of the challenges this year are continuations from trends in 2018’s report.  Hopefully, this means that charities have been given a head start on how they will respond to challenges and enable them to think longer term about how they will shape their strategies and positioning in the future. We look forward to the seeing how the charities put their best foot forward in the year 2019.