Givewell - Demand for Services Survey
17 August 2009 at 4:46 pm
There has been an almost 5% increase in the demand for the services provided by Australia charities during the current economic downturn according to the latest survey by charity sector research organisation, Givewell – and charities are not expecting any ‘economic recovery’ soon.
The survey reveals that Not for Profits also expect another 5% increase in demand next year.
Givewell executive director Michael Walsh says this is a far worse situation than what is being told about the overall economy.
Walsh says charities that help the poor and disadvantaged are worst hit, as are those operating in smaller States.
The survey finds that almost two-thirds of charities (63%) have experienced a material increase in the demand for their services for the 2009 financial year, with an overall average weighted increase of 4.9 per cent.
Similarly, two-thirds say that they believe the economic recession explains this increase, with responses ranging from ‘to an extent’ to ‘almost entirely’.
Expectations for the future are also of concern, with 68 per cent expecting the demand for their services to increase further in the 2010 financial year.
Givewell undertook an online survey in June and July 2009 to asses the specific impact of the downturn on the demand for services by Australia charities.
Givewell’s analysis shows that after combining the weighted increase for 2009 with the expected increase in 2010, the average weighted increase in demand for services since the downturn first emerged is expected to be around 10 per cent by 2010.
Categories worst hit are:
· Humanitarian – 100% experienced increased demand, with 63% blaming the recession and an average increase of 11.4%
· Welfare – 91% experienced increased demand, with 78% blaming the recession and an average increase of 6.8%
· Community Support – 76% experienced increased demand, with 76% blaming the recession and an average increase of 6.3%
States worst hit are:
· QLD – average increase of 6.8%, but only 57% blaming the recession
· SA – average increase of 5.7%, with 68% blaming the recession
· WA – average increase of 5.4%, with 74% blaming the recession
The results show that size of charity is not a determining factor in terms of the extent of impact. The survey found that only 3% of charities surveyed reported a decrease in demand for their services.
The survey found that the common implications for stress on funding included reports of an inability to employ staff to meet the demand, of projects being cut and no new projects being undertaken, fees being raised, and an increasing focus of funders on price instead of service delivery, with funding becoming increasingly more competitive and difficult to obtain.
The survey says the long term implications of a variety of comments from charities are of concern, such as recognition of the difficulty of investing in capacity building; the need for management to spend more time monitoring the business; more time spent focusing on finding funding rather than service delivery; an inability to undertake essential maintenance work; and the risk of being opportunistic, rather than strategic, when it comes to planned income generation.
On a more positive note, the survey says some charities made comments of increased PR and exposure to the general public that might outweigh declines in other areas of their business.
Comments on government funding also ranged from being sufficient to if not increasing, at least being maintained, and some charities reported an increase in their use of volunteers. Those who have not yet seen an increase in demand commented on their close watch on internal costs,
with expectations for increasing demands in the future to impact on charities’ budget development.
Givewell says it will continue to monitor the impacts of the downturn, with particular interest to the analysis of charities’ 2009 financial statements as they become available in the coming months.
A full copy of the survey results can be downloaded at www.givewell.com.au