Viewfinder 14

The first Viewfinder survey of 2013 continues to demonstrate the uneven impact of the current economic conditions in the voluntary and community sector.

The trends identified through the last few Viewfinder surveys reveal a consistent picture across the sector and continue to reflect the impact of the financial downturn on resources and demand for services. This latest survey is in line with the last number of Viewfinder surveys with 39% of organisations indicating in April 2013 that their financial situation has worsened; for 24% conditions had improved and 33% reported no change.  In relation to staff numbers, over a fifth (22%) reported an increase while for 14% there was a reduction in numbers.

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It has been increasingly apparent over the past year that organisations have progressively responded to current conditions by increasing their expenditure levels, the figure rising from 41% of respondents in Viewfinder 13 to 45% in Viewfinder 14.   Additionally, over the year organisations have increased the number and range of services they offer, the figure rising from 56% in Viewfinder 13 to 61% in April 2013.  As was reported in previous Viewfinders, the rise in services on offer has not kept pace with the increase in the demand for services reported by members, with 78% reporting that demand for services had increased in the last 12 months.

In 2012 this increased demand for, and delivery of, services took place in a context wherein consistently over the year around 40% of members reported increased competition with other organisations in the sector.   In Viewfinder 14 this figure fell to 31% whilst in the same period 44% reported that there had been no change in the level of competition faced from other organisations.

The Viewfinder series has also monitored the impact of public sector cuts in the voluntary and community sector. In 2012 the number of organisations reporting that they had been affected by the public sector cuts varied from a high of 67% early in the year to a figure of 57% in Viewfinder 13; the current level for Viewfinder 14 is 45%. The percentage of organisations having their funding cut in 2012 varied over the year around the 40% mark and, in keeping with the trend, the current level reported was 45%.

For those organisations in receipt of funding the main trends remain consistent and include increasing demands to show ‘value for money’, increased levels of monitoring and evaluation and increased funding bureaucracy.  For almost two thirds of members there has been no inflationary uplift in their funding levels.

The main sources of funding for organisations remain government departments, councils, charitable trusts and health boards / trusts. For those organisations directly impacted by funding cuts the main actions taken to remedy the impact remain examining new funding streams, increased lobbying, developing joint funding bids with partners and increasing the numbers of volunteers.

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