Getting off to a great start

Ongoing uncertainties and challenges can make us worry about the future. But with the right support, networks and advice, 2023 doesn’t have to be doom and gloom, writes Emma Abbott, Communications Manager, Charity Finance Group.  

If your new year started off anything like ours, it was with excitement for the coming 12 months. You might have also been reflecting on 2022 and planning in future projects.

But it’s also likely that you’re looking ahead with some trepidation. The cost of living crisis, political and economic uncertainties at home and abroad, the ongoing impact of Covid-19…

As our CEO Caron Bradshaw OBE remarked in our recently published Trustees’ Annual Report: ‘These are all matters of such magnitude that to describe them as a perfect storm would seem wholly inadequate. At what point does continual and unprecedented change become the new state of being? Is this our new normal?’

The short answer to that last question is “yes”. So how can our organisations remain resilient in 2023 and beyond?

At the end of last year, CFG compiled a new online resource that we hope will help answer some of those questions.

The Cost of Living Hub is packed full of expert advice and guidance. It also sets out what the charity sector is doing to provide support and includes a handy list of other organisations that are providing advice.

It’s times like these that it’s good to know that we are not alone. Help is at hand should we need it. Below are seven things you can do in the next few weeks to ensure 2023 gets off to a great start for you and your team.

  1. Get to grips with finance. Whether or not finance is your area of expertise, it pays to gain a deeper understanding of your organisation’s financial position. It helps if everyone has some understanding of the financial health of your organisation, particularly when it comes to planning budgets, anticipating and reviewing costs, and forecasting. Having a clear idea of what’s flowing in and out helps you to identify problems quickly and plan accordingly.
  2. Revisit reserves. Remember to review and strengthen your reserves policy – and make sure you can communicate it well. The issue of reserves has been a hot topic lately and a lot has been said about what’s ‘too little’ and ‘what’s too much’. We recommend reviewing your reserves policy, especially if it was written pre-pandemic. Read this excellent article on reserves by Caron Bradshaw and listen to a recent podcast from Third Sector on the issue.
  3. Diversify! It’s important that your income stems from a variety of sources. Sufficient income diversity means that, even if your main source of income is removed, you will be able to fulfil your charitable objects. Many foundations are now willing to cover operating costs, not just specific activities, so it’s worth taking a look at DSC’s Guide to Major Trusts. Diversification is an ongoing, evolving process that you should continually revisit.
  4. Look after your people. If your people are stretched, stressed and burned out, your organisation will be less resilient in the face of a crisis. Ask your team to get involved in finding ways to support them. At CFG we undertook a staff survey to understand how people were feeling at and about work and what pressures they were under more generally. It has been vital in piecing together new ways to support staff, improve work/life balance and bring the team together.
  1. Gift aid. We estimate that nearly £600m is lost through unclaimed or incorrectly claimed gift aid, each year! Look at how you can sharpen up your gift aid processes and make sure you are claiming every penny. In October, we’ll be running our annual Gift Aid Awareness Day to encourage the public to #TickTheBox. Please do join us in spreading the word. In the meantime, download our Guide to Gift Aid.
  2. Keep ahead and in the know. Like taxes and death, regulatory and legislative changes are inevitable. It’s easy to get caught out or fall behind, so make sure you’re keeping up-to-date with all that’s going on by reading our newsletters and keeping an eye on our Knowledge Hub for all the latest policy news and updates.
  3. Finally, sign up and join us at CFG’s training courses and events. Brushing up on your finance skills, widening your networks and investing in yourself and your team can make all the difference to building organisational resilience. Check out our 2023 events and training courses calendar.

And here are a few upcoming events to get started with:

We hope 2023 is a great year for your organisation, and the people and communities you serve. If you would like to get in touch with the CFG team, to ask a question, make a suggestion or share an idea, please do! Email