The Road Ahead – 20 things for charities to think about in 2020

The start of the year is always marked by predictions. Those of us working in charities are no different in wanting to know what the year ahead may have in store, and what it means for our organisations and their work.

So how will political and economic trends, social movements and technological breakthroughs shape our lives and the world that surrounds us in the coming year?

NCVO’s Road Ahead 2020 report is a key read for anyone wanting to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, so they can think about the key drivers that are likely to shape our operating environment.

You can read the full Road Ahead 2020 here.

20 for 2020

Or, for a whistle-stop tour, here are 20 things for charities to think about in 2020:

  1. Brexit will be far from over, even after we formally leave the European Union (EU) later this week. Much time and attention will be directed to the detail of post-Brexit policy.
  2. But the domestic agenda will start to open up, providing an opportunity to reignite the debate on issues that are not necessarily Brexit related.
  3. The nature of the UK’s trading relationship with the EU and the rest of the world will influence the health of the economy.
  4. One key challenge, which will continue to confront the UK economy, is poor labour productivity.
  5. The rise in the minimum wage – while positive – will mean higher wage bills.
  6. Large scale transformation programmes will continue at pace in different parts of the public sector, including the development of primary care networks and integrated care systems, and changes to the National Probation Service and the Courts and Tribunals Service.
  7. The number of people giving to charity is showing signs of decline.
  8. The culture of philanthropic giving is coming under scrutiny.
  9. The UK population as a whole is ageing, but there is a growing disparity between ageing in rural and coastal areas compared with cities.
  10. Increasingly people are working until later in life, a trend that is likely to continue with the decline of defined-benefit pension schemes and the increase in life expectancy.
  11. There is strong evidence that Britain has become polarised in terms of Brexit affiliations, which split people far more than their political identity.
  12. But on other issues facing the country, evidence suggests that many aspects of attitudes and identity in the UK are converging.
  13. Latest polls suggest a decrease in the country’s sense of wellbeing, and a weakening of social connections.
  14. More and more ways of ‘doing good’ are emerging, with people wanting to get involved in decentralised and networked ways, and self-organising around causes and issues.
  15. There is also an increasing preference for opportunities that are flexible and quick to start.
  16. Younger generations are cause-led and ‘sector agnostic’, so open to getting involved in multiple initiatives with the same goal.
  17. Concern over the environment is at its highest level since 2010, and the sense of urgency to find solutions to the climate challenge is heightening.
  18. Cyber crime will continue to be a huge risk, and email fraud is predicted to become even more sophisticated.
  19. Technology is being used as a tool to distribute power, sometimes disrupting institutions that previously held the monopoly over resources and influence.
  20. One of the biggest buzzwords of the 2000s — big data — will continue to make headlines. But while storing data might be easier, generating insights from data could be more challenging.

Read NCVO’s full report for more detail about what these changes mean for charities and their work, and how charities can deal with them. This year, we also suggest some helpful questions for charities to ask themselves, and signpost towards practical guidance and resources.

2020 is the start of so much ‘new’

2020 is not only the start of a new year but of a new decade. For the UK it also marks a new government, and it will be the year in which we forge new relationships with the EU and with other countries around the world.

While all this may sound daunting, there are opportunities as well as challenges ahead. The Road Ahead is intended to identify all of these and inspire charities to face them head-on, so they can make the most of the year ahead.

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Elizabeth Chamberlain Elizabeth is head of policy and public services at NCVO. She has been part of the policy team since 2008, as the expert on charity law and regulation. Her policy interests also include charity campaigning, the sector’s independence, transparency, and accountability.

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