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State of the Sector 2020: The condition of charities before the COVID-19 crisis

This is a preview of our headline findings, released in advance of the main report. For our full research findings, head to

Headline findings for charities and funders to help respond to the COVID-19 outbreak

This year we at NPC plan to launch and update to our State of the Sector programme of work, looking at the perceptions of leading charities around what makes the sector effective and the issues it faces,

In light of the COVID-19 crisis and the likelihood that charities will form a big part of the response (and be adversely affected) we are releasing selected results now.

We hope they will give a picture of the challenges charities were facing just before the crisis, so these factors can be included in the targeting of funding and support from philanthropists and government, as well as the planning of any response, to maximise its effectiveness for the country, and for the sector. For more on why we have released our headline findings now, watch this video.

Important findings include:

  • Charity leaders reported doing more in almost every area than 2017 and so may have been spread thinly when the crisis hit. For example, in 2017 83% of charities said they were delivering services or products. In 2019/20 this rose to 89%.
  • Less than half (47%) of charities believed that independent funders offered the flexible core funding which NPC expects will be vital to keeping them afloat in the crisis.
  • Charities’ confidence on their ability to use digital technology has dropped by 11 percentage points to 59% from 70% since 2017. This may leave them struggling to shift services online to reach isolated people during quarantine and social isolation.

Please get in touch if you have questions or would like to explore working with us and see our other work on supporting the sector to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

We are grateful to our programme sponsors: Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, PwC, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Odgers Berndtson and the NPC Supporters Circle.Logos of State of the Sector funders


In this video, Tom Collinge, Policy Manager at NPC, introduces our State of the Sector 2020 research and explains the rationale behind the early release of our headline findings.

Helping philanthropists and charities tackle COVID-19

State of the Sector