Knowledge Hub

Charity finance policy Crisis management

Restarting the economy amidst coronavirus

Charles Nall, Finance Director, Motability and former trustee and chair of Charity Finance Group

As the government begins to issue its plans for returning to work and restarting the economy, charities too must turn their attention to scenario planning for a safe return to work, when government decides the time is right. Charities need a more normal economy to restore income, reduce distress in society and thus reduce unmet demand on their services, and so better focus their limited resources to support those in need. The goal is to restore sufficient activity that organisations can at least ‘get by’ without significant further financial distress until a more normal functioning of the economy is possible.

This is an active topic of discussion amongst the members of the CFG Large Charities Special Interest Group where organisations have had an opportunity to share thinking and planning. Below, I list measures that could be considered by any charity with offices whilst others will be more situation dependent. The list might also provide a starting point for a checklist against which government advice can be considered as it emerges.

The organisation that is the basis for these examples is a service and grant providing charity based in a shared office building that has a shared canteen. Due to the distressing nature of some of the cases handled by the charity, normal services require physically present staff so that effective one to one support can be given. Homeworking is therefore of limited but still important use.


Reasons & comments

4-day week

3-day gap potentially reduces viral loading of the workplace back to zero. Potential to restore 80% of economic activity

Require soft face masks

Doesn’t compromise clinical supplies as non-clinical grade materials used. Facemasks reminder to all of crisis

Social distancing, 2m up to 5m where circulation space an issue

To allow 30-40% staff to work at once by using meeting rooms and communal spaces for desking. Needs mandated routes marking out.

Dual shifts, e.g. six hours each: 8am to 2pm and 2pm to 8pm

Doubles staff presence to 60-80%. With home-working, structured holidays, online training etc, allows 80%-90% capacity utilisation, possibly 100%. Needs detailed cleaning regime. Benefits include:

· All or nearly all staff working ca. 80%-100% of contractual hours

· All or nearly all staff earn & come off benefits

· Secures business viability if enough capacity in use to cover fixed overheads

Ban business travel and internal face to face meetings

To maintain social distancing

Ban cafeteria eating, provide self-service alternatives

To maintain social distancing

Coughing and sneezing provision of bins, bin liners, tissues

Government guidance that catching coughs and sneezes is effective

Provision of gloves

Reduces exposure to the virus in the environment. Uncomfortable for protracted use but probably sensible for visiting high traffic communal areas like drinks points and lavatories.


A particular area of concern for staff in many organisations will be using public transport. Common sense suggests the need is to reduce transmission through staggered travel patterns and face masks but system capacity constraints will mean it’s difficult to maintain even reduced social distancing. It’s likely that home working and Zoom (other conferencing services exist) are going to be with us for many months to come.

Meanwhile, stay safe and well so that as social distancing eases we and our organisations are in the best possible shape to help those we serve.

This blog is a contribution to a wider debate that many readers may be having in their organisations. For further thinking from CFG on this topic and more sign up to our regular newsletter

« Back to the Knowledge Hub