Almost two-thirds (63%) of UK charities believe that Brexit will have a negative impact on their work, according to a new report.
Nearly a quarter (23%) of charity leaders said that the EU withdrawal process had already had an impact, with 33% of those reporting issues with recruitment and retention of staff and 19% a loss of EU funding or projects.
Some 37% believe there will be a decrease in donations as a result of EU withdrawal, according to the Charity Landscape 2019 report by the Charities Aid Foundation.
“Most charities are pessimistic about the overall economy and are worried about what Brexit will mean, partly in terms of the impact on their own organisations, but even more so in terms of the impact on the people and communities they work with,” said the report.
And it added: “The economy and Brexit have been looming large in the minds of charity leaders. The continued pressure on public spending creates a squeeze on charities, as increased demand for their services comes at the same time as falling levels of Government funding.
“For many charities, maintaining financial sustainability against this backdrop is their biggest challenge.”
Almost all (92%) of the charity leaders surveyed for the report said they thought their organisations would be expected to fill gaps in public services over the next five years.
A large majority (83%) had experienced an increase in demand for their services over the last 12 months, and 86% expect this to continue over the coming year.
Nearly six in 10 (59%) charity leaders think that the sector has been badly impacted by recent negative media stories, and around seven in 10 agreed that most people do not understand the importance of charities to public life.
Just over a third (35%) thought that charities are good at demonstrating their impact to the public.
Around six in 10 (59%) predicted that over the next five years Government will see charities as a nuisance for criticising official policies.
And the same proportion (59%) said that generating income would be their top challenge in the coming period.
CAF head of research Susan Pinkney said: “All organisations are operating in a difficult political and social landscape at the moment. The charity sector is no exception to this.
“Charity leaders have spoken with a united and clear voice, emphasising several key points. They are fearful of the impact that Brexit will have, for example on staff retention and the ongoing funding that allows them to provide services for those who need them.
“Despite this, there are reasons to be optimistic. Eighty-seven per cent of charity leaders are investing in technological innovation in order to meet the evolving needs of their beneficiaries, reflecting a strong desire to plan ahead for the future.”