Survey of local third sector support providers


Fifth report
This is the fifth and final report in a series of surveys set up in 2009 by Capacitybuilders to track the impact of the economic downturn. The surveys provide valuable information on the sector during a time of considerable change, both for frontline civil society organisations and those who support them.

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Survey of local third sector support providers Fifth report  


1. Introduction 2. Key Findings 3. Conclusion

Survey of local third sector support providers Fifth report  

1. Introduction
Capacitybuilders has completed its fifth and final survey of local civil society support providers. Begun in April 2009, this series of surveys has sought to understand how support providers (infrastructure organisations) have been affected by a period of significant political and economic change.

Each survey has covered the following areas: • changing patterns of demand for support services • changes in income • organisational responses to the recession • the impact of current economic challenges on wider civil society • expectations for the future.

The five surveys have been conducted at roughly six month intervals. 1

Survey 1 – May 2009; Survey 2 – October 2009; Survey 3 – April 2010; Survey 4 – October 2010; Survey 5 – February 2011

Survey of local third sector support providers Fifth report  

2. Key Findings
2.1. Demand for services
The survey results show that the vast majority of support providers continue to see an increase in demand for their services from frontline voluntary and community organisations. Previous surveys suggested that support providers had been able to deal with this increased pressure on resources. While a significant proportion (45%) still indicate that they are coping ‘well’ or ‘very well’ with increased demand, this is the lowest proportion reporting this from across each of the five surveys. Perhaps this is an indication of the challenging environment in which infrastructure organisations are operating.
Table 2.1.1 Proportion of support providers reporting increased demand for services over the last 12 months Survey 1 78% Survey 2 79% Survey 3 82% Survey 4 85% Survey 5 84%

2.2. Income
Results from the latest survey show significantly more support providers have reported a reduction in income over the last 12 months, compared to those that have seen their income rise.

Survey of local third sector support providers Fifth report  

Chart 2.2.1 Change in overall income in the last 12 months
60% 56% 50% 42% 40% 38% 34% 28% 20% 22% 14% 10% Decrease Increase 40% 44%




0% Survey 1 Survey 2 Survey 3 Survey4 Survey 5

While it has fluctuated, this gap has widened considerably since Survey 3 in April 2010. The latest survey results show four times as many respondents reported a fall in income (56%), while only 14% saw their income grow during the same period. In addition, the gap between the biggest ‘winners’ and ‘losers’, i.e. those that have seen a significant change (+ / - 15%) in their overall income over the last 12 months, has grown wider. Over a quarter of support providers (29%) have reported significant loss of income. In contrast only 5% saw a significant increase.
Table 2.2.1 Survey 5 data showing change in overall income over the last 12 months Significantly decreased (> 15%) Slightly decreased (5% – 15%) Remained the same (+ / - 5%) Slightly increased (5% – 15%) Significantly increased (> 15%) 29% 27% 31% 9% 5% No significant change 31% Overall decrease 56%

Overall increase 14%

Survey of local third sector support providers Fifth report  

Chart 2.2.2 (see below) allows us to look more closely at how local support providers have been affected by changes to specific income streams.

Chart 2.2.2 Percentage of support providers reporting a reduction in specific income streams
50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 15% 10% 5% 0% Local Govt. Grants / Trusts % National Govt. 28% 22% 37% 31% 31% 26% 20% 33% 28% 28% 26% 19% 16% Survey 1 Survey 2 Survey 3 Survey 4 Survey 5 46%

The chart suggests that respondents are increasingly being affected by reductions or loss of funding from three key sources - Local Government, Grants / Trusts and National Government Departments:

• nearly half (46%) reported cuts in funding from local authorities – more than double the proportion from Survey 1 • a third (33%) have received a reduction in income from grant giving bodies / other trusts • just over a quarter (26%) report funding cuts from National Government Departments.

Survey of local third sector support providers Fifth report  

While many support providers across England have clearly been affected by reductions in public spending already, it is likely that funding decisions, particularly in local authorities, have yet to be made. As such, it is possible that even more support providers will either lose – or receive significantly less – funding over the next spending period. Similar to findings from Survey 4, there is very little optimism with regard to short-term future income. More than three quarters expect their overall income to go down during the next 12 months; only 8% feel that it will increase (see Chart 2.2.3).

Chart 2.2.3 Expected change in income over next 12 months
80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 13% 10% 0% Decrease Increase 19% 15% 7% 8% 46% 48% 44% Survey 1 Survey 2 Survey 3 Survey 4 Survey 5 75% 76%

A significant proportion of support providers have looked at options around generating funding for themselves. Results from the latest survey shows that nearly a third (31%) reported an increase in earned income over the preceding 12 month period – more than double that from Survey 1 (14%). However, whether this is sufficient to offset the reduction in funding from other sources was outside the remit of this survey.

Survey of local third sector support providers Fifth report  

2.3. Actions taken by support providers
Local support providers are taking, or have taken, a range of different actions to mitigate the impact of a challenging economic situation, while ensuring that services remain accessible to frontline voluntary and community sector organisations.

Chart 2.3.1 Percentage of support providers taking certain actions
12% Cutting staff Increasing collaboration 26% Targeting services 36% 8% Reducing services 31% Providing new services 13% Planning merger 21% 0% 10% 20% 30% % 40% 50% 60% 38% 30% 52% 49% 48% Survey 1 Survey 2 Survey 3 Survey4 Survey 5

Chart 2.3.1 shows a significant increase in the proportion of infrastructure organisations which have had to reduce staff numbers over the last few months – up from 28% in Survey 4, to 52% in Survey 5. ‘Cutting staff’ has now overtaken ‘increasing collaboration’ as the most common action being taken by local support providers in response to funding cuts. The chart also shows that just over a fifth (21%) have completed or are planning a merger.

Survey of local third sector support providers Fifth report  

3. Conclusion
The full effects of the recession are only now beginning to be fully felt by support providers. More organisations are taking action to respond to a rise in demand for their services and a fall in their income. We hope this can sustain basic services for civil society organisations most in need of support, so that they in turn can help their communities deal with the impacts of the recession.

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