Respond, Recover, Reset: Shropshire VCSA’s summary


  • This project is about:
  • Understanding what it has been like working in the voluntary sector during the pandemic
  • The challenges that voluntary sector organisations face
  • How voluntary sector organisations have sought to overcome those challenges
  • The goal of the project is, by using a representative sample of organisations, to really understand what the voluntary sector is experiencing over time and to learn from those experiences.
  • The project partners are:
  • Nottingham Trent University
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • National Council for Voluntary Organisations
  • This first report provides a taster of some of the emerging findings of the study, more of which will be published over the next few months.
  • Every month the project will produce:
  • A Covid 19 impact barometer providing real-time data about the impact the virus is having on the sector.
  • A dashboard which will allow users to drill-down into the data and see the impact of the pandemic on different types of organisation or places.
  • A representative panel survey showing how different types of organisations are responding.
  • In-depth interviews with different VCOs examining the changing impacts.

The First Barometer {from 697 organisation responses – September 2020}

  • 39% reported a deteriorating financial position over the last month.
  • 20% had seen their financial position improve over the last month
  • 53% expect their financial position to stay the same over the next month
  • 34% expect their financial position to deteriorate over the next month.
  • 45% reported that the range of services offered had decreased over the last 6 months
  • 36% said that the range of services offered had increased over this period
  • 56% expected that demand for their services would increase over the next month.
  • 60% of organisations reported increased operating costs due to the implementation of Covid 19 safety measures.
  • The size of paid workforce remained stable over the month preceding the survey.
  • A net 11% reduction in the number of volunteers over the month preceding the survey.
  • 80% expect Covid 19 to have a moderate or significant negative impact on delivering their objectives next year.
  • 10% reported that it was quite likely or very likely that their organisation would no longer be operating next year.
  • 66% have moved some existing services online since March.

Understanding the Sector Responses.

  • Many different experiences.
  • Many respondents felt that that the magnitude and significance of living and working in the VCSE sector during the pandemic was a key experience in their lives.
  • For some this has been the most intense period of their working lives.
  • Others, who were furloughed, as organisations tried to save money, described feeling “unloved”, worried about redundancy and as experiencing a type of bereavement.
  • Some organisations have transformed how they work, developing new ways of working by streamlining processes and inventing new ways of working (e.g. Zooming).
  • Many of these transformations were made possible because the organisations were building on, scaling or accelerating existing plans.
  • The (sometimes dramatic) changes in working practices and service delivery has increased the demand on the workforce.
  • Many workers described these changes as “energizing”. Others, because of increased work intensity, were concerned about their own well-being and burnout.
  • Many organisations are finding ways of encouraging well-being and learning to say “no” to extra demands.
  • The pandemic has transformed many of the ways that organisations work, with trustees, senior leaders, operational staff and volunteers working together in new ways.
  • Funding continues to create real concerns for many organisations leading to uncertainty about their futures.
  • Some organisations are using their reserves in order to survive.
  • Others are making cuts or reducing services.
  • Some small organisations fear they will be overlooked and are particularly struggling with competing demands on them.
  • While there have been many new funding streams available, these have produced some challenges.
  • These challenges, and the pandemic generally, have led to some organisations reappraising their mission and purpose.
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