The extent of the pressure being put on Northern Ireland’s third sector by the political impasse is revealed in the latest Ulster Bank & Co3 3rd Sector Index.
Almost half of voluntary leaders surveyed state that the lack of a Northern Ireland budget threatens their organisation’s ability to operate.
There has also been a significant increase in the proportion of voluntary sector leaders reporting cash flow issues at their organisation.
28 percent are now reporting cash flow problems compared to 17 percent last quarter.
Third sector leaders are also increasing pessimistic about the outlook for the Northern Ireland economy.
Almost three-quarters expect the economy to worsen during the 12 months ahead.
With austerity, Brexit, the current political impasse, and the lack of Northern Ireland budget, the environment for the third sector is certainly challenging.
Many of them will also be dealing with a rising cost base from, for instance, input cost inflation, the National Living Wage, and pension issues.
This makes it all the more important for the sector as a whole to continue to adapt and to find new streams of revenue; albeit this is extremely difficult to do with the lack of certainty about future funding.
Leadership and proactive management are more important than ever. Like the private sector, the most innovative and effective organisations will be the ones that survive and thrive.
As Nora Smith, chief executive of CO3, notes: “The uncertainty of funding for members continues to dominate. Although funding has been secured up until July 2017, this piecemeal approach greatly inhibits members’ ability to plan and deliver key services. At a time when the sector is being encouraged to raise more of its own income, the uncertainty of funding makes this task extremely difficult. Our members are providing life-changing, in some cases, life-saving services to people and children living in positions of vulnerability. The political and funding uncertainty compounded by the implications of Brexit places the sector in an extremely volatile position.”