What can the charity sector expect in 2018? (Guest post)

Nick Sladden, head of charities at RSM, looks ahead to what 2018 has in store for the sector

Chloe Green | 2nd Jan 18

Nick Sladden, head of charities at RSM, looks ahead to what 2018 has in store for the sector


Engaging with Generation Z

Generation Z has reached adulthood and is now ready to volunteer. Having never experienced a world where the internet and social media didn’t exist, engaging with this new workforce in the right way is crucial for charities as it will bring clear benefits, such as improving digital fundraising skills.

The more innovative charities will offer a highly personalised and increasingly interactive experience for their beneficiaries and funders that constantly reflect the latest digital advances.

Trustee boards will also need to embrace working with Generation Z – far too many boards are dominated by volunteers at the other, older, end of the demographic scale. Board leadership through identifying a clear vision of how digital skills can help to achieve a charitable mission together with inter-generational volunteering will give charities the best chance of success. This is vital as the charity sector in 2018 will represent an increasingly diverse population with wide-ranging needs.


New ways to top up the regulator’s spending pot

It’s no secret that the Charity Commission is taking on more work but has fewer funds to work with. The commission’s annual budget is frozen at £20.3m until 2020 and has halved in real terms since 2007. Conversely, applications for charity registrations have increased by 40 per cent since 2013.

The commission has been discussing the issue with government and there are several options being proposed for additional funding. One is to ask the largest 2,000 charities to contribute a total of about £7m a year. The extra money would then be spent by the regulator on increasing the support it provides to trustees. Expect a consultation and a lively debate in the sector in 2018.


The full impact of GDPR

We will see the full impact of GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) in 2018. Significantly smaller mailing lists will make it more difficult to target donors through traditional means, leaving charities to undertake smaller, more frequent, marketing initiatives and make more effective use of social media.

For those unprepared charities (where have you been in 2017?!), the required changes, together with staff training and the associated management time are likely to significantly increase costs next year.


The fall out of sleeping on the job

Sleep-in arrangements are widespread in the social care sector. When the minimum wage was first introduced in 1999, anyone employed to work overnight such as a carer, was entitled to a flat-rate allowance. But, following recent tribunal cases, the Government clarified its guidance in October 2017 to state that these organisations must now pay the minimum wage throughout the shift, meaning overnight carers would be entitled to more than their flat-rate allowance.

Social care providers have been given a year to identify how much they owe workers who were employed as sleep-in carers but not paid the minimum wage. HMRC also launched the Social Care Compliance Scheme (SCCS) to support organisations in identifying and settling outstanding wages by March 2019.

The issue has caused much concern in the sector with many charities arguably facing insolvency as a result of the need to pay past liabilities. The government continues to explore options to minimise any impact on the sector but has to date simply extended deadlines rather than creating any financial support. The concerns on the stability and long-term viability of social care (as a result of financial penalties and wage arrears) is likely to become more vocal in 2018 with further action required to bridge a liability for the sector which runs into the hundreds of millions of pounds.