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State of the Sector 2020

By Theo Clay 31 October 2019

How we’ve all changed. The last three years have been nothing if not eventful. 

Some things have improved—the night tube opened, gay rights advanced in Ireland and India, whilst Colleen Rooney has been promoted to a latter-day Hercule Poirot. 

Some things have undoubtedly got worse. We have more people sleeping rough on our streets, every one of the last three years has beaten the one before as the hottest on record, and the less said about Game of Thrones the better. 

And some things have barely changed at all. Charities are still battling to do their vital work while the bombshells of Brexit and their political fallout still dominates the headlines. 

The day in 2016 that David Cameron left office, we published our first paper from our State of the Sector programme: Boldness in times of change: Rethinking the charity sector for the future. The jury is still out on which the history books will remember from that day, but we at least know which has helped us to understand the charity sector better. 

State of the Sector is the most wide-ranging and in-depth survey of charity leaders around. It captures a snapshot of where charity leaders are: their hopes, fears, and challengesThis week, we begin the field work on State of the Sector 2020: the second iteration of the programme. We will again be interviewing 300 charity leaders to get an insight into questions such as:  

  • Where is the sector on diversity? 
  • Why aren’t charities embracing digital technology? 
  • What is the biggest obstacle to charities achieving their mission?

State of the Sector is vital because we can’t tackle a problem if we don’t first understand it. We will take the findings from our survey build on them—consulting people from across the sector to develop practical solutions to the issues we identify. 

Since this is our second time around, we can also look at the distance travelled across a range of issues. Are less charities subsidising government contracts with their reserves? Do more charities give users a say in the decisions which affect them? Tracking the progress of the sector is key to nudging it in the right direction.  

We launched this new phase of the project at our annual conference, NPC Ignites, last month. On the day, we set up a short survey to get the views of attendees on some of the issues we were exploring. The findings were interesting: 

  • 58% of respondents were confident that their organisation was ready for Brexit on the 31st of October. 
  • 73% of respondents thought declining public trust had affected their organisation ‘Not very much or ‘not at all’. 
  • 73% of respondents thought charities are not political enough. 

Now we want to hear your views. Here we have set up a series of questions to get your perspective on where the charity sector is, and where it needs to be. Let us know your views and tell us what we’re missing. 

Finally, we are still looking for funders to join PwC, Barrow Cadbury and Odgers in supporting our research to be as ground-breaking and influential as it can be.

If you are interested in getting involved please get in touch at