As lockdown starts to ease, specialists at Sussex-based chartered accountants MHA Carpenter Box are recommending actions to help local charities prepare for a post-COVID world.
Charities have been hit financially and operationally over the last 12 months and many have had to adapt to reduced income and organisational change.
Robin Evans, Partner and Head of Charities & Not for Profit at MHA Carpenter Box, commented: "As we move out of lockdown, charities will need to be ready for a potentially overwhelming level of activity - for example dealing with a deluge of donations to their high street retail outlets. Having systems in place to manage this pent-up demand will be essential in ensuring that charities optimise this important revenue stream."
He says that while the recent Budget did little to support the charities sector, there are actions that charities can take now in preparation for the end of lockdown. This includes assessing whether new ways of working should be continued and reviewing areas that have caused issues. For example, remote working has exposed some organisations to greater risk of IT based fraud.
Charities should also be considering whether any additional services they introduced during the pandemic should continue or whether they return to their core activities.
For example, charities offering face-to-face support have been able to reach more people online, so they need to consider whether this delivers a greater impact overall, or whether their effectiveness has been diluted. In another case, a charity supporting low income families with housing challenges provided both housing and food services during lockdown - should they continue or revert to pre-COVID practice?
Also high on the action list should be a review of staff and trustee expertise to ensure they are properly equipped for the post-COVD world.
Robin added: "Many charities have said that the pandemic has meant a greater awareness and appreciation of their work - and they have discovered more innovative and efficient ways of reaching the people they seek to help. Hopefully, we will soon see our local charities benefiting from a better fund-raising climate so that they are able to do even more great work."
MHA Carpenter Box runs its own charitable foundation and recently donated £10,000 to help local charities deliver their services. Among the charities to benefit were the West Sussex Mediation Services, Sussex Community Foundation Crisis Fund, Turning Tides, Crawley Open House, Circus Starr's Winter Tour, Care for Veterans and the Down Syndrome Development Trust.
In total, the foundation has now raised £230,000 for local good causes since it was formed.