Brexit: Five things charities can do

We’ve already published an initial briefing about the implications of Brexit for charities. Some of you asked, what should we do next? So here’s five things charities can consider doing in response.

  1. Discuss with your board

For many charities, it will make sense to discuss Brexit at your next board meeting. Even those that do not feel directly affected (for example, do not receive any EU funding) are likely to experience some indirect effects – see below.

So it is best for your board to be on the front foot. It may be helpful to share with trustees NCVO’s Brexit briefing, our pre-referendum analysis paper or the Charity Commission’s 15 questions trustees should ask.

  1. Review budgets

With most commentators expecting an economic slowdown or recession in the coming year, looking again at your budgets for 2017-18 is a good idea. Are any important income streams likely to be at risk?

If your charities’ income is well-diversified and/or you have multi-year grants or contracts, this may mean you are in a relatively secure position and can continue as planned. If key areas of income may be at risk, you may need to talk to your funders now, look for alternative funding sources and/or plan to reduce costs.

  1. Support your staff

Communicating regularly with staff can make a big difference during uncertain times. Some staff may be feeling insecure and it’s important to recognise this is not just limited to EU nationals, others may be concerned for wider family, their job security or personal safety in light of a recent rise in hate crime.

Giving staff the opportunity to discuss any concerns, for example in their next 1-2-1 meetings, may be helpful and asking what support they would appreciate. We and other charity partners have also put up a welcoming poster in our lobby.

  1. Engage your communities

It’s a really important time for voluntary organisations to reach out to their communities. We’ve seen fantastic examples of charities doing this already.

My colleague Kim has blogged on practical steps you can take to help ease community tensions. And you could look to Big Lottery Fund’s new ‘Celebrate’ fund for grants of up to £10,000 for hosting a community get-together.

For more in-depth analysis of the social and economic inequalities highlighted by the Brexit vote (but which will be all too familiar to many charities), see the latest blogs by NESTA and the Resolution Foundation.

  1. Raise policy issues

We’ve already been in touch with the Brexit department who want to know which EU directives, EU funding streams and policy issues charities are worried about – so these can form part of their planning.

So whether it’s habitats directives, immigration policy, arts exports or medical research funding – the more NCVO hears, the better we can reflect the views of the sector to government in the coming months. In thinking about what Brexit may mean for your organisation and community, it would be helpful to flag any regulatory or policy issues.

Do email with your thoughts – NCVO are particularly keen to hear from smaller charities and community groups.

And finally…

On a personal note, this is my last NCVO blog post. I am delighted to hand over to Elizabeth Chamberlain as NCVO’s new head of policy and public services. Meanwhile, I am looking forward to working as a freelance consultant ( and spending more time with my one-year-old son.


This entry was posted in Policy, Practical support and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Like this? Read more

Charlotte Ravenscroft was NCVO’s head of policy and public services. Charlotte’s wrote about funding, public service delivery, and strengthening the evidence base for voluntary action. She has also worked at The National Lottery Community Fund and the Department for Education.

One Response to Brexit: Five things charities can do