The recent PwC Charity Survey event, which took place at the Broadway Cinema in the Villa Marina on Friday 16th November, brought to light some interesting figures that reveal how Island charities are addressing the challenges of reduced government spending, low interest rates, changes in legislation and an unpredictable economy. Attendees also heard from Ian Oakley-Smith, a Director in PwC UK’s London office, on the continuing challenges faced by charities in the UK.
Mr Oakley-Smith delivered a presentation on ‘Managing in the “new normal”’, touching on events in the UK in the past year as well as the current situation. He is a specialist in charity turnaround, having worked with a wide range of charities as a part of the PwC Charities Team. His presentation addressed a number of key messages gathered from the latest survey conclusions, which will be relevant to UK and Island charities over the coming year. He offered advice on finding sustainable strategies, finding a balance between remaining independent and collaborating, strategic funding and demonstrating financial leadership.
PwC Director Gordon Wilson concluded the event by delivering the results of a recent PwC survey of the charities sector in the Isle of Man. He said: ‘In advance of the event we launched our survey of the charity sector in the Isle of Man. We posed a number of questions relevant to the overall sector and believe the results are beneficial in helping Island charities to continue to plan and structure in the current climate.’
Approximately 40 respondents took part in the survey, the majority being small to medium sized charities operating only in the Isle of Man. Questions asked covered a range of issues, including respondent’s views on government involvement, issues faced over the past year, future outlook and levels of reserves.
The results showed that while a reasonable proportion of respondents felt that there was a healthy relationship between charities and the IoM Government, many would like to see more outsourcing of services to charities during 2013, as well as other initiatives such as gift aid and secondment of government staff into the charity sector.
This call for support comes as 66% or respondents recorded an increase in demand for their services over the last 12 months and 63% predicted an increase in the coming year. Respondents suggested that the reasons behind the growing demand for charitable services could include the economic downturn, cuts in government spending, demographic changes and environmental pressures.
Many charities that responded to the survey are finding it necessary to dip into existing reserves to cover the gap between funding and demand for services, with the majority that are doing so having sufficient reserves to cover core costs for the next 18 – 24 months. This is not a long-term solution to fundraising shortfalls however, and over 50% of respondents had carried out a strategic review to determine their future plans.
The majority of respondents were optimistic about the outlook for their charity over the next year, adding that support such as having better access to IT expertise, the involvement of more qualified directors or and recruiting more volunteers would be of great benefit in helping them to meet demand.
David Gawne MBE, Director of the Isle of Man Council of Voluntary Organisations (CVO) expressed appreciation to PwC Isle of Man and the individual speakers. He said: ‘We have heard stimulating and informative contributions from three accomplished speakers. The results of the survey, to a very large extent, reflect the CVO’s reading of the current situation and will help to finalise our strategy for 2013.
‘We are strengthening and developing our dialogue with Government and a mature relationship is developing as evidenced by the good turnout at a presentation given by the CVO to members of Tynwald last week. At a time when we are developing relationships with the business and finance sectors, the tangible support of an organisation of the calibre of PwC is important to us’