International Charity Financial Benchmarking Report 2021

2nd February 2022

We are pleased to introduce our fourth annual benchmarking report on international charities based in the UK.

In last year’s report, we noted the unprecedented times that international charities faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One year on, and the challenges facing charitable organisations, both in the UK and around the world, remain significant. The pandemic has presented international charities with many difficult moments over the course of the last 12 months and we expect further challenges to come.

When the additional factors of Brexit, the high-profile challenge of safeguarding, the merger of DfID and the FCO, the cut to the foreign aid budget, and cyber attacks are added to the equation, it has been a challenging year for organisations to get through. The Government departmental merger and overseas aid cuts has led to some charities seeing a substantial reduction in institutional funding, which has caused cash flow pressures and forced some to make significant redundancies over the course of the last year. On the other hand, some organisations have in fact had a relatively successful year, with fundraising holding up well and even increasing in some cases.

The need for international charities and the work they undertake remains substantial. With many organisations having now achieved short-term survival throughout the pandemic, we are seeing some re-evaluate their future plans by adapting their focus and priority areas for the coming years. For some, this has meant a fundamental change to their operational model, with affected organisations having to make cutbacks in particular activities or locations that they operate in.

This report considers a selection of the areas that we, in our experience, see as the most significant in achieving good financial governance for an international charity. These include risk, fundraising, reserves, and value for money. Following the successful inclusion last year of a supplementary survey to complement our desk research, we have carried out a similar survey this year to enhance our findings on a range of the areas in the report.

We do hope the results of this report will be useful, along with helping to inform debate.

We also hope that our findings will help you to benchmark your own organisation against your peers, in addition to supporting the sector in adopting best practices for the future. As in previous years, we welcome feedback on our findings and on the contents of the report, as well as suggestions for future publications.

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