Save charities: An open letter

Charities play a vital role in communities across the UK. But at this time of crisis — when they are needed most — many are experiencing a sharp drop in income. This is harming their ability to support people during the crisis and threatens their survival.

The government’s £750m package is welcome, but not nearly enough.

There are around 167,000 charities in the UK, employing over 800,000 people and spending over £40bn per year. In a recent survey, charities predicted they would lose almost half of their voluntary income as a result of the crisis, at a time when many expect demand for their services to increase. Despite this urgent need, more than half surveyed have already reduced their levels of service.

Charities big and small have seen their incomes collapse as individuals and businesses reallocate funding to crisis response and make difficult decisions to protect their own finances.

Without intervention, thousands of charities will buckle at the exact time they are needed most.

It is right that the government, individuals and foundations are supporting work on the front-line of the crisis. But we must also protect the wider charitable sector and the millions of people who continue to rely on it. Beyond the front line of the coronavirus crisis, charities are delivering critical year-round support and are preparing to help communities bounce back after we emerge from the crisis.

To benefit the widest possible number of charities, we call on the government to implement two simple policies:

  1. Provide immediate support to help charities continue to deliver services 

    Introduce a Charitable Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CCJRS) to retain staff and allow them to continue delivering vital charitable work.This scheme would replicate the Coronavirus Job Retention scheme, but without the need to furlough charity employees.

  2. Incentivise public donations to rebuild charity finances 

    Amplify public generosity by unleashing a ‘Summer of Giving’. This would double Gift Aid to 50% on all donations received between 1st March and 31st August 2020.This complements the one-off BBC Big Night In by empowering all charities to rebuild their finances through a season of fundraising activities that will capture the public’s imagination.

    Claims from charities through this scheme would be limited to 50% of averaged annual donations received over the past three financial years.

The government must act now. Without the critical support that charities provide, this crisis will cast an even longer shadow on people’s lives.


We now have over 250 signatories, including 100 charity leaders, representing 3,200 employees, 42,000 volunteers and £210m annual spending. The work across youth support, health & well-being, life-saving, animals, community development and many other areas.

Oliver Pawle, chairman, Centre for Entrepreneurs
Rita Chadha, chief executive, Small Charities Coalition

Alex Ritchie, executive director, GlobalGiving UK
Barry Williams, interim CEO, Youth Access
Carlton Smith, CEO, Bradford Trident
Charles Rapson, CEO, The School for Social Entrepreneurs, Midlands
Chris Martin, CEO, The Mix
Claire Morgans, CEO, Ykids
Diana Staines, chief executive, Centre 81
Dirk Bischof, chief executive, Hatch Enterprise
Dominic Ellison, CEO, The West of England Centre for Inclusive Living
Evelyn McDonald, CEO, Scottish EDGE
Geoff Leask, CEO, Young Enterprise Scotland
Helen marshall, chief executive, Brook
Jamie Ward-Smith, CEO, Do IT Foundation and chair, Co-op Foundation
Juliette Rayner, CEO, ERIC – The Children’s Bowel and Cancer Charity
Justine Molyneux, CEO, Involve Northwest
Jo Barnes, CEO, Care 4 All
Karen Edwards, chief executive, CareTrade Answers for Autism
Kate Welch, chief executive, Social Enterprise Acumen
Kevin Munday, chief executive, City Year UK
Lesley Chance, director, Families in Focus
Lisa Morris, CEO, Greyhound Trust
Louisa Searle, director, First Give
Maggie O’ Carroll, chief executive, The Women’s Organisation
Mandy Young, founder & CEO, Adrenaline Alley
Marion Fellows MP
Matt Lent
Michele Jennings, chief executive, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People
Nicola Turnbull, chief executive, Impact Family Services
Pat Shelley, CEO, Launch It
Pauline Wonders, strategic director, Family Gateway
Penny Wilson, CEO, Getting On Board
Peter Gorbing, CEO, Dogs for Good
Robert Gofton, CEO, Royal Life Saving Society UK
Rosie Cooper MP
Saeed Atcha, CEO, Youth Leads UK
Sandy Kennedy, chief executive, Entrepreneurial Scotland Foundation
Sarahjane Robertson, CEO, Look Good Feel Better
Sharon Davies, CEO, Young Enterprise
Shirley Moore, CEO, The Befriending Scheme
Steve Hare, chief executive, Age UK East Sussex
Steve Sayers, chief executive, Windmill Hill City Farm
Thomas Lawson, CEO, Turn2us
Vicki Dawson, CEO, The Sleep Charity
Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive, Power to Change
Zinthiya Ganeshpanchan, CEO, Zinthiya Trust

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