Brexit’s impact on the charity sector

On Thursday 30th June, The Right Ethos launched the survey on the impact of Brexit on the Non-profit/charity sector within campaigns and communications. We received a strong response from this survey and would like to present to you our findings.

As you can see below a significant majority of respondents voted “remain” in the referendum, with only a total of 10% indicating that they voted “neither” or to “leave” the EU. Immediately it’s observable from this that those within the sector have views that differ substantially from the wider public, who of course pushed towards leaving. This difference widens when we look at those at a level of Head of and above where less than 1% voted to leave.

Interestingly when asked how they would vote today the vote to remain increases by 3% both overall and when we look at the views of those at Head of and above. This change is likely to come largely from those who voted “neither” as the “leave” vote remained stable. This may infer that the effects of Brexit, for instance, the fall in the value of the pound, are already being felt and have concerned those who voted “neither” or that media coverage of the long-term effects of Brexit since the vote has swayed people’s opinions.

Looking at the rest of the data we can see the overwhelming opinion is that Brexit will have harmful implications for the sector. 88% of those in Head of and above roles were to some degree concerned by the result of the referendum and 95% felt that Brexit would ultimately have some level of negative impact on their organisation. These results are unsurprising given the number of people who supported the “remain” campaign. It is worth noting that there was no real strong consensus over how negative Brexit would be, for instance, answers to the question “What kind of impact do you feel Brexit will have on the future success of your organisation?” had 60% suggest it would have a “negative impact” and 35% suggest it would have a “significantly negative impact.” This potentially reflects the level of uncertainty in regards to the consequences of Britain leaving the EU and the fact that Brexit is likely to affect each individual organisation differently.

 

Funding

One clear area which respondents were keen to highlight was the effect of Brexit on funding. This is shown both in the findings for question 6 (Charity funding will be limited by the result of the referendum) and in a number of answers to question 7 (How will Brexit specifically affect your organisation?). Here are a few quotes:

“Funding is the key issue for our organisation. We are heavily dependent upon government funding, and given Brexit, it is likely that money available will reduce…”

 

“The single most important worry is that economic problems lead to fewer donations and lower NHS funding.”

 

“…economic uncertainty always has a negative impact on donations and grants. Brexit has created huge economic uncertainty and I think we are going to see the impact of that”

“We rely on EU funding”

These quotes help summarise the concerns and uncertainty around funding and also showcase that funding may be limited in a multitude of ways. Resultantly it is easy to see why funding is such a key issue as Brexit has the potential to restrict income across a number of areas and thus will affect a large number of organisations.

At this point we will highlight a few of the key themes that emerged in the final question, not so far discussed.

 

Policy Gridlock

“Policy making gridlock in Whitehall as post-Brexit legislation and policy is formulated; further devolution of decision making and policy far beyond our capacity to influence; more charity mergers/takeovers.”

“Uncertain about government decisions. Government plans will be put off as the focus will be on Europe.”

 

“It will be much more difficult to get through to government over the next few months, while they sought themselves out. The same goes for media coverage…”

“More chance of getting positive legislation to suit our needs.”

 

Recruitment and Employees

“Less funding. Employee may be forced to leave the country. It will become harder to find talent, especially multi-lingual.”

 

“Staff employed – many of them are European citizens and it will cost us a lot now in legal fees to clarify their status as we exit and then potential new recruitment too if they are no longer eligible to work in the UK.”

 

“Potential loss of skilled staff and difficulty recruiting in future.”

 

Charity Aims and practices

“After a bit of uncertainty everything will get better as long as the UK politicians play hard ball with the EU.”

 

“It will change our entire mandate – promoting UK business around the world. We will lose the breadth of international business that is London and the UK’s strength, we will lose jobs, the economy will shrink and there will be less public or private sector funds available for community projects and social justice.”

 

“We have a strong research network throughout Europe for cancer prevention and cure. I fear future collaborations will be more difficult to accomplish.”

In conclusion whilst it is too early to gauge the true impact that Brexit will have on the charity sector, it is clear the referendum result is already having an influence. It is clear that there are a few charities that are seeing some positive outcomes of leaving the EU. However, there are significant concerns emerging regarding the day to day running of charities and said concerns have evidently led to organisations re-strategising and shifting focus. It is ominous and significant that such a large proportion of individuals, who are highly involved in the non-profit sector, felt that leaving would be a negative and this indicates the coming years will be challenging ones for the sector as a whole.

Survey Questions

All Respondents

CEO, Head and Director level

1. Did you vote to Remain in or Leave the EU?

A: Remain

89%

94%

B: Leave

6%

1%

C: Neither

4%

3%

D: Prefer not to say

1%

2%

 

2. If there was another referendum today, how would you vote?

A: Remain

92%

97.4%

B: Leave

6%

0%

C: Neither

1%

0.6%

D: Prefer not to say

1%

1.9%

 

3. How concerned are you about the effect that Brexit will have on your organisation?

A: Unconcerned

 13%

11%

B: Concerned

 41%

56%

C: Extremely Concerned

 46%

33%

 

4. What kind of impact do you feel Brexit will have on the future success of your organisation?

A Significantly Negative Impact

 27%

35%

B: Negative Impact

 58%

60%

C: No Impact

 10%

3%

D: Positive Impact

 4%

1%

E: Significantly Positive Impact

 0%

0%

1% – No Answer

5. Charities will find it easier to accomplish their targets/goals now that Britain is to leave the EU.

A: Strongly Agree

 1%

1%

B: Agree

 3%

3%

C: Neutral/Don’t Know

 13%

14%

D: Disagree

 26%

36%

E: Strongly Disagree

 57%

46%

 

6. “Charity funding will be limited by the result of the referendum.”

A: Strongly Agree

42%

56%

B: Agree

37%

33%

C: Neutral/Don’t Know

 13%

8%

D: Disagree

 4%

1%

E: Strongly Disagree

 3%

1%

 

 Brexit Survey Quotes from Charity Leaders

About The Right Ethos

The Right Ethos was set up after our founder, Jonathan Dearth, had worked in the campaigning sector for 13 years, for campaigning organisations including Amnesty International, Shelter, Liberty and the World Development Movement. It was set up as a response to multi-sector recruitment consultancies moving in on the charity sector, and in particular not recognising that people who work for campaigning organisations are motivated by justice and long term change.