Charity support at Christmas and the impact of Covid-19

Charity support at Christmas and the impact of Covid-19

2nd December 2020

By Ron Moody

It’s been the toughest year imaginable for charities – and while there’s now a COVID-19 vaccine on the horizon, it will be well into 2021 before we reach anything like a return to pre-pandemic conditions.

For many charities, Christmas is the busiest time of the year – it’s the season of giving after all. And this year, some services are stripped to the bone: forced by the pandemic to lay off staff, whilst facing increased demand.

However, as last year’s powerful Childline campaign tagline says: “Abuse and neglect don’t take Christmas off, so neither do we.”

At Connect Assist, we support charities in supporting others, taking the strain during times of peak demand or when staff are taking a well-earned festive break.

The fundraising landscape

So how bad has 2020 been for charity finances? According to the new Status of UK Fundraising 2020 Benchmark Report from the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, the picture is mixed.

Some 27% say income has declined, against 21% in 2019. And 57% of charities believe the impact of the pandemic on charities will last a full year, with 70% saying that recovery will be their biggest challenge over the next three years. 

While two-thirds of charities are confident that they’ll recover, a third are fearful for the future. 

According to the Charities Aid Foundation, donations even increased during the first months of the pandemic with higher average donations to charity,– testament to people’s public spirit.

However, the benefits were not felt equally. Unsurprisingly, causes linked to Coronavirus such as hospitals fared well whilst charities, which normally rely on large fundraising events or donations of goods to shops, suffered greatly.

Job losses

Sadly, some charities have been forced to make redundancies. New Philanthropy Capital is running a charity redundancy tracker, which was showing 6,580 publicly announced redundancies by mid-November. 

6,580 publicly announced redundancies by mid-November.

Current trends in philanthropy show aArts and cCulture is the worst affected sector, as venues shut their doors for months. Health, Animal Welfare, and Welfare and Poverty have also suffered. 

Another tracker is the Covid-19 Voluntary Sector Impact Barometer run by NCVO with the universities of Sheffield Hallam and Nottingham Trent. It shows that numbers of volunteers – who are often elderly, and therefore more at risk of Covid-19 – have also dropped. 

Demand on services

The first Covid-19 barometer report, based on September/ October data, showed that 45% of organisations had reduced the services offered, against 36% who had increased them. Some 66% had moved services online. 

Yet more than half expected demand to rise over the following month. 

increase of mental health calls

Mental Health charity Mind said in late October it had seen the largest increase in calls to its Infoline. Its survey found that half of all adults and two-thirds of young people said their mental health had worsened during the pandemic. 

However, the charity’s finances are uncertain. Despite a hugely successful emergency appeal, it expects to make 80 posts redundant in 2021.Charities providing benefits, debt and money advice can also expect a very busy Christmas period: between March and October, the number of workers on payrolls in the UK dropped by 782,000.

‘Hard winter’

Karl Wilding, chief executive of NCVO, said: “Whether through falling income from charity shops and fundraising events, or a surge in demand for services from those facing the brunt of the pandemic, charities are under pressure like never before. 

“Earlier in the year we saw an incredible community response snap into action, with many changing how they operate or digitalising their life-saving services overnight. 

“Now as a hard winter period looms with more stringent local lockdowns, charities again need to step up their services and support those in need.”


Connect Assist: Helping you keep Christmas on track

Thanks to its staff and volunteers, the charity sector is resilient. At Connect Assist, we’re here to help your charity support all those who need your services this winter. 

24/7 contact centre services

We offer omnichannel contact centre services 24/7, including live chat operator services every single day of the year. We can work with you on an overflow basis, providing seamless back-up at peak times, including nights, weekends or bank holidays when many services close but demand often rises. We can be highly flexible to support you when you need us the most. 

Whether your customers need befriending, counselling and emotional support, legal support or benefits, debt and money advice, we have qualified and experienced advisors ready to respond.

Contact us today to discuss how we can work together this festive season.


If you need our help in developing more effective, meaningful connections with customers, get in touch today.