Despite fears, the pandemic did not prompt a spike in charity closures, report finds

Image Credit: 
Tim Douglas, Pexels
14 March, 2022


The University of Birmingham's Third Sector Research Centre has undertaken research to analyse how Covid-19 affected charities in cities like Bristol and across the UK.

The research centre looked at data from regulators and from charity accounts to track changes in the sector. Their findings seem to somewhat contradict predictions about the fate of the sector at the start of the pandemic, which forecast a high level of charity closures. This report found that in fact the number of charity dissolutions fell.

The academics said that while the predicted surge of closures did not materialise, fewer new charities set up and the normal pattern of charity formations has not yet rebounded either. They state with some confidence that “the financial turbulence that has affected charities is unprecedented in the two decades or so for which we have financial statistics”.

In addition some feel that some dissolutions may have only had a temporary reprieve. Speaking at a webinar to discuss the findings, Alasdair Rutherford from the University of Stirling, said that support charities received during the pandemic may mean that some organisations were able to continue and the “impact may yet still be to come”. 

Others noted that because of the unprecedented time for charities trustees simply may not have not had time to do the paperwork yet. Responding to the findings of the research, Policy Director at the Charity Finance Group, Clare Mills, said there is often a delay between a financial crisis and the recording of insolvencies.

When there so much else going on your life, deciding to close a charity might be low on your list of priorities,” she explained. You can read more about the research, which was also supported by the University of Stirling, the University of Southampton and NCVO, here.

Do you feel that charities in Bristol and our region are out of the woods, or are you still feeling the economic effects of the pandemic?

If you are still feeling the effects and want advice about finding suitable project grants or unrestricted core funding please visit our income generation and funding page.