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Impact of Cost of Living Crisis on Charities

As the cost of living crisis continues to hit the most vulnerable across the UK, charities are starting to feel the huge impact that it threatens to have on their capabilities and resources.

Photo of Lourens Du Plessis Lourens du Plessis
4 min

The churches and Christian charities which Stewardship partners with will experience increased demand for support, while themselves facing significant decreases in charity donations during the cost of living crisis. Looking towards the winter, we know that churches are already working to provide warm refuge for people who cannot afford to heat their homes. The government’s announcements on measures to tackle the energy cost crisis are no doubt welcome, but bills continue to be high and inflation remains a problem. It is good to hear that charities and business will also receive help (albeit for 6 months, with the situation after that unclear - unlike households, charities are not protected through the normal heating price cap). A recent report by CAF highlighted that a third of charity leaders surveyed said they were concerned for the survival of their charities*.

Charities face the dual pressure: decrease in income and higher demand for services

In times of crisis, charities often experience an increase in giving. During the Great Depression, charitable giving reportedly increased significantly, rather than decreased. But the past is not a guarantee of the future, and we know many charities experience concern and uncertainty about how their charitable funding will hold up during this time as their donors experience their own financial pressures. Earlier this year already, more than a quarter of people told CAF they had family or friends who struggled to pay their bills, with 4% cancelling a direct debit to a charity, 8% choosing not to make a one-off donation, and 6% reviewing their giving**. This uncertainty will just continue to become worse because of the dual pressures of increased demand for charities’ services and the inflation-fuelled high costs they experience themselves. Charities can’t pass on their costs to beneficiaries like commercial organisations can and rely on increased donor funding to cover those expenses – or dig into their reserves if they have them.

Christians have increased their giving but the future is uncertain

Christian charities (like others) play very important roles in how our nation responds to times of crisis and economic challenge. Stewardship is a charity (and donor advised fund) which has helped people for over 100 years to give generously to Christian charities to resource their ministries. While giving to charities have gone down by 6.3%***  in 2021 according to figures from CAF, we are grateful that we saw an increase in giving of 8% by individual givers to the partner churches and charities we fund. Giving to churches was under pressure during the pandemic when they couldn’t meet, particularly where they relied on cash donations. Where they relied more on regular electronic giving, or people were able to switch to online giving options, giving largely held up. Most church leaders reported having sufficient reserves in 2021, and expected giving in 2022 to remain robust****.  We also saw a number of one-off events lead to large spikes in giving during this period, for example, at the start of the pandemic, and then with the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. The Christian giving sector tends to be resilient, but it remains to be seen how givers will be able to rise to this new cost of living challenge.

Strengthening your cause through partnership through cost of living crisis

Stewardship also supports a large number of churches and charities with our governance, accounting, payroll bureau, consultancy and charity formation services. We play a significant part in improving good governance in the sector, especially in times of crisis, so donors can be assured their funds are put to good use. As charities are expected to play an ever-increasing role in helping to alleviate the effects of the rising cost-of-living crisis, it's imperative that we include them in any support measures possible. We can do more, together.

We’re here to help

Whether you're starting out or have years of experience, we're here to help during the cost of living crisis. Visit Causebuilder to find out about the full range of church and charity services offered by Stewardship. You can also support Stewardship's Cost of Living Response Fund and share the hope of Jesus at a time of crisis. 

Give hope 


* fundraising.co.uk/2022/05/03/cost-of-living-crisis-sees-a-third-of-charities-concerned-for-their-survival

** cafonline.org/docs/default-source/about-us-research/uk_giving_2022.pdf (p.14)


**** eauk.org/assets/files/downloads/Changing-church-Responding-to-the-coronavirus-crisis.pdf (p. 10)

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Written by

Lourens du Plessis

Lourens leads our teams who guide and strengthen churches and Christian charities with their governance and finances. Our professional services include independent examinations of charities’ accounts, an award-winning payroll bureau, consultancy and governance advisory services and helping charities get registered with the Charity Commission. He joined Stewardship in 2020 and brings with him a wealth of experience in both the charity and commercial sectors. He’s a member of the Charity Community Advisory Group of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, and regularly interacts with regulators in the sector.

Before joining Stewardship he worked for an international church developing governance and financial stewardship for various ministries. Prior to that Lourens had a senior role at a Big Four firm in the City, advising international investment banks. He is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has a postgraduate degree in Theology.

Lourens grew up in South Africa, but has spent the majority of his working life in London.  He is a member of the International Presbyterian Church in Ealing. He is also a trustee of a number of other churches and charities, including a new pregnancy counselling centre, and he’s involved in initiatives to help Christians better integrate their faith and work.

Lourens supports causes which encourage bringing the gospel to people in his neighbourhood and to the ends of the earth, and particularly supporting persecuted Christians around the world.