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  • Writer's pictureGeorgia Moores

What challenges could small charities be facing in 2024?

The landscape for small charities as we move into 2024 continues to be challenging; as much as ever there is a greater demand for services coupled with shrinking resources. 22% of charities didn’t meet their fundraising target in 2023 according to Blackbaud’s 2023 Status of UK Fundraising Report and inevitably some senior leaders will be really feeling the pressure. It’s not all bad news though, more than three in five charities (63%) are optimistic they will be able to retain donors and 56% expect to reach new audiences.


We have some ideas about some of the HR challenges that may crop up this year and some thoughts on how you can address them.

1. Competitive pay and benefits

Not all voluntary sector organisations will be in the position to offer pay increases this year but in light of the cost of living crisis, it is inevitable that employees may still be feeling the pinch.

There are so many benefits you could look at offering if you are not in the position to look at your financial offer right now:


  • We know that flexible working is vital to attracting and retaining the most talented people. NCVO in their ‘Time to Flex: Embracing Flexible Working’ report suggest charities have a ‘yes to flex’ approach where the employer proactively consider how flexibility is possible in the job design for all roles and for everyone.

  •  Focus on employee wellbeing; you could facilitate training programmes and reflective group debriefs focused on mental wellbeing, training up mental health first aiders, or you could consider an employee assistance programme (typically EAPs cost between 40p and £1.25 per employee, per month, depending on the size of your organisation).

  • You could increase your annual leave entitlement or consider offering additional leave in the form of volunteering days or personal days. You may wish to think about a week’s office closure during your quietest period – a bonus week off for all staff with the benefit of not returning to a mountain of emails.


If you feel you need some support with what you pay, or your pay framework needs an update, we can help! Have a look here to see what we can do.


2. Risk of burnout

According to Small Charities Data, over a third of charities report workload as one of their biggest challenges.

The wellbeing of staff and volunteers is fundamental to the sustainability of charities. We know that most staff in charities are passionate about their work and care about the cause of the organisation. This has lots of benefits in terms of engagement and productivity but can also mean it’s a challenge to rest or ‘switch off’ when things aren’t going well.


Have a read of our blog post here about preventing burnout and some tips for managers on how to support a healthy workplace.  Reflect on whether you are seeing signs of burnout in your staff team and think about whether your culture is one that encourages positive wellbeing and healthy boundary setting.


3. Volunteer and trustee recruitment

59% of small charities said their biggest concern was volunteer recruitment in a survey by ProBono Economics (PBE) and Nottingham Trent University.

The Community Life Survey reports that the number of people volunteering has reduced in recent years. Last year’s data showed that 16% of the population volunteer at least once a month compared to 23% pre-Covid. And 27% of respondents volunteer at least once in a year compared to 30% in 2019.

Particularly for roles like Trustees and Board Members, it is crucial that you have a diverse pool of talent. When recruiting for new trustees, consider:

  • A skills audit: do you know where your gaps are? Have you identified the skills you need?

  • Your recruitment pack: are you providing the information that a potential trustee would want to know and are you truly capturing the diversity, values and culture of your charity?

  • The term of office: ensure trustees know your governance arrangements and how long a term is.

  • How can you advertise in affordable places that are going to get a good return on diverse and talented candidates. Don’t forget you can advertise Trustee vacancies for free on CharityJob.


For all volunteer roles it’s worth reviewing whether your opportunities are as rewarding, flexible and accessible as possible. For example, do you pay expenses?  Do you offer remote volunteering opportunities?


4. Keeping up with employment law changes

 There are a number of changes this year on the horizon, including:

  • The right to request flexible working from day one: CIPD found 39% of organisations already offer a day one right to request flexible working, which is great news.  As part of this Act, employees will be able to submit two flexible working requests per year and the responsibility to consider the impact of a request shifts from the employee to the employer. Therefore, the employer will be required to consult with the employee before coming to a decision.

  • Rolled up holiday pay is back and legal again for holiday years starting on or after 1 April 2024 – this is where an amount for holiday pay on top of a worker’s normal hourly rate is paid at the time they perform the work, rather than when they are on holiday. In a similar vein, the Government is introducing a pro-rata method of calculating annual leave entitlement for irregular hour workers and part-year workers, calculated at 12.07 per cent of hours worked in a pay period. You can see the full extent of changes to holiday pay and entitlement here in the Government guidance.

  •  Minimum wage increases: a rise from £10.42 to £11.44 per hour from 1 April. For the first time, the increase will be expanded to cover 21 and 22 year olds and the national minimum wage rates for younger workers will also rise by £1.11 an hour to £8.60 for 18 to 20 year olds.

  •  Worker protections: from October 2024 there will be a duty on employers to take “reasonable steps” to prevent sexual harassment of employees in the course of their employment.

  •  The Carer's Leave Regulations 2024 are due to come into force on 6 April 2024. Employees can apply for up to one week of unpaid carer’s leave in any rolling 12-month period. This will be a day one right.

  • Family-friendly protection from redundancy: the current protections from redundancy for those on family leave are extended to include pregnant employees from the time they inform their employer of their pregnancy and those on family leave for a greater period.


The Voluntary Sector has been facing a ‘perfect storm’ since Covid with a wide range of challenges from different angles including funding, political and legislative. These all impact to an extent on the ability (and need) for charities to recruit and retain great staff and volunteers.


The questions and suggestions above will hopefully help small (and bigger) charities prepare for some of the HR issues looming in 2024.  Don’t forget that if you are a NCVO member, you can book a free 60-minute consultation with us to talk through any strategic HR issues or opportunities.



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