The financial impact of coronavirus poses an “unprecedented challenge” for charities across the UK, as fundraising events are cancelled, and corporate and individual donors tighten their belts.

“There is a very real danger that we could see as many as a third of all small charities in the country closing if something isn’t done soon,” says Rita Chadha, CEO of the Small Charities Coalition.

“There was recognition in the Budget of the need for businesses to be protected with small grants, but nothing similar for charities, who will have the double whammy of seeing a reduction in donors at the same time as an increase in demand for services,” she explains.

“In December last year, the Small Charities Coalition took 58 calls to its helpline. In February we saw 232, and halfway through this month we are at 181, with groups asking us to help them find emergency funding to both continue their existing services, expand to meet increased demand, and also meet their own costs of having to change the way they work.”

Callers to the SCC helpline have been asked if they expect to survive the next six months in light of the coronavirus outbreak, to which one in three responded no. “It has long been the case that charities don’t appear on the radar of government until there is a crisis and we are asked to step in like the reserve emergency service. Thwarted by years of cuts in funding, small charities are the epitome of resilience. However, COVID-19 has led to a dramatic increase in demand for local services for so many, coming at a time when small charities are particularly struggling with access to resources, equipment, and personnel to help deliver their vital services,” Rita says.

Gynaecological cancer charity The Eve Appeal was among the first to launch an emergency coronavirus appeal on 13 March. “We have had to cancel several events over the coming weeks, all of which would have brought in vital income. Income which is now lost,” the charity wrote in a statement to supporters.

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