Understanding Financial Hardship

Naomi Chapman

When our pop-up foundation launches later this year, the focus of giving will be financial hardship in the UK. Though this focus was selected before the Open Philanthropy programme got started, it is an increasingly relevant area of need due to the cost of living crisis, and as such we feel a real responsibility to ensure that evidence we provide to our funding panels is accurate and complete. This weeknote summarises our understanding of financial hardship, how we have got there, and invites you to complete a short survey to improve our knowledge.

Our current understanding 

A full draft report outlining our current understanding of financial hardship is available here. Key findings within this report include that: 

  • The groups disproportionately affected by financial hardship are families; those experiencing or at risk of homelessness; care leavers; women; disabled people; asylum seekers and those with No Recourse to Public Funds; and ethnic minorities 
  • The pandemic and the cost of living crisis have exacerbated existing inequalities in relation to financial hardship, rather than radically changing who is affected 
  • A lot of work takes place in the charity sector to address financial hardship, but barriers to accessing services, gaps in provision, and flaws in service design prevent these interventions from being as impactful as they could be  

Later in the year, this report will be adapted into a fully accessible, key source of evidence for our grant making panels to consider as they decide how to award funding. It will be supplemented by further evidence (including live presentations, videos, and research papers) from those with professional or lived experience of financial hardship, as well as any further evidence that panellists decide they need to make informed decisions. 

Is there anything that resonates – or doesn’t – in our current research? Get in touch by commenting below or emailing Naomi.Chapman@thinkNPC.org. 

How we mapped the financial hardship landscape 

When I joined NPC and the Open Philanthropy team in May 2022, work to map the financial hardship landscape was already underway. Desk based research had started, and a few interviews with key players in this field had been held.  

Since May, we have: 

  • Undertaken a gap analysis to ensure that desk-based research covered key areas of the sector and the nuances of each 
  • Finalised our desk-based research, collating notes from 50 pieces of evidence 
  • Conducted more interviews, moving from two that had been delivered in Spring 2022 to a current tally of 10 
  • Collated and analysed data from all of these sources to create iterative versions of our report 

You can see an overview of the organisations we have spoken to or been informed by here. 

Can’t see your organisation or perspective on the list? We currently have a live survey call for evidence, which should take you no more than five minutes to complete, and will further feed into our understanding of financial hardship. Complete it now! 

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