With the cost of living rising so dramatically, how are charity platforms like GoFundMe responding to the evolving situation?
“There is a lot of uncertainty that reminds me a lot of the time when Covid-19 first emerged,” said John Coventry, vice president of international at GoFundMe. “We didn’t know what was going to happen and how bad it could be, but we knew we could become a central platform for those in need and those who help.” Coventry adds that the charity will look at a similar scenario if the winter goes like this going as some analysts are predicting. The Bank of England said it expects another contracting quarter for the economy, meaning the country is now in recession and inflation is expected to continue rising.
“It’s hard to see the stories of people facing such hardships this winter, but it’s inspiring to see people coming together to support friends, family, neighbors and even complete strangers.”
However, Coventry insists fundraising alone will not be enough to help those in need this winter. “The tension between structural government support and urgent, short-term assistance has always existed. In the end, both are crucial.” Raising funds from the cost of living crisis is not a sustainable solution, especially as at least a million more people in the UK will be pushed into poverty and poorer households will be disproportionately affected, prolonging the crisis for those most vulnerable . Pascale Harvie, President and General Manager of JustGiving agrees. “The work of charities should always be a complement to institutional support and should not replace it,” he says.
To make matters worse, charities themselves have been hit by the cost of living crisis. According to the Charities Aid Foundation, post-COVID-19 pandemic increased demand, inflationary cost pressures, declining donations and burned-out reserves could devastate the sector. The Charity Aid Foundation found that four in five charity executives (82 percent) are concerned about rising utility bills, including utility bills, rent and fuel, and managing demands for higher wages (80 percent). At the same time, nearly two-thirds of charity executives (65 percent) are concerned about the higher cost of inventory, equipment and consumables.
“Many more people rely on charities, including food banks, mental health and disability support, and organizations that provide financial advice,” said Alison Taylor, CEO of Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) Bank and Charity Services at CAF. “With tight household budgets impacting donations, the sector is in for a perfect storm and unfortunately there are likely to be some charities that cannot survive this year.”
So what will happen to struggling individuals and families when the government seems only interested in helping the wealthy and the charity sector is overwhelmed? To put it bluntly, people will die. This is nothing new in Tory Britain, where a decade of austerity has been linked to 50,000 excess deaths in the last five years.
While encouraging, individual help through fundraising only scratches the surface of Britain’s inequality, where disabled people, black and minority ethnic groups and migrants are disproportionately affected. Real wealth redistribution requires not only radical national policies, but support for them. Political opposition to the cost-of-living crisis has never been more important, and unions, community groups and activists across the country are relentlessly building it.
Meanwhile, many will feel a sharp drop in living standards. “As much as we are aware of the cost of living crisis and talk about it all the time. I don’t think many people realize how serious it’s going to be,” Rebecca says of her own situation. “There will be people who feel comfortable suddenly having to make decisions that they never had to make before. It will be an extraterrestrial experience.”