Charities should focus on best asset – people

Categories: Care.

The 2012 charities risk survey findings ‘Managing risk: Making the most out of your resources’ show that charities are experiencing continued anxiety from income uncertainty and risk and are dealing with limitations in resources, skills and willingness to change.

Among the areas identified at risk are access to the right skills, retention and attraction of good staff, employee motivation and rising stress levels.

Time and skills

Caron Bradshaw, CEO at  the Charity Finance Group (CFG) said, “The sector’s most significant asset is our people. In a time of financial and strategic uncertainty, considering how to motivate and reward staff and volunteers is critical. The sector always has attracted, and will continue to attract, a dedicated workforce. But it is essential that we bring in and maintain the right skills to adapt and change. The evidence here is that we are facing both a time and skills deficit – we can’t create more time, but skills we can work on.

“The survey shows that more can be done in terms of performance management of staff, volunteers, and even trustees, to get the best from them. I am delighted that many charities seem to be looking internally at how they can up-skill those staff they already have as well as looking outside the organisation. Charities need to think about the types of experience they need and how they can motivate and develop their teams in the areas where they would like to focus. This is a bit of a catch 22, as without the right skills, charities are often not able to capitalise on some of the other assets they have.”


Sam Younger, chief executive of The Charity Commission, said the findings show risks associated with income and funding continue to preoccupy charities.

However, many areas threaten an organisation’s ability to get the most from its resources. 

The three major risks were loss of funding, staffing and skills, and leadership/governance issues/inability to make change

The most widespread staffing concerns were the retention (55%) and attraction (49%) of the best staff. And concerns about staff motivation, competence and need for new skills were also identified.

Lack of incentive was identified as a risk, but for almost half (46%) of respondents the main incentive on offer to boost performance is being valued and thanked by the charity. Over 50% of respondents were concerned about their organisation’s willingness to change.

Time and cost were seen as the most important risk factors to making improvements.

The 2012 charities risk survey had responses from more than 200 charities and the findings were produced by PKF Accountants in Association with the Charity Finance Group (CFG) and the full report is available from the CFG website.

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