Charities and Resilience: From Austerity to COVID-19

Vicky Lambert, Audrey Paterson

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Understanding how charities have survived, and sometimes thrived, in the face of crisis has given rise to an increased interest in the resilience of these organizations. Research on dealing with uncertainty and crisis situations notes the ability to adapt as a critical resilience component (Siders, 2019). However, resilience and adaptive capacity in the charity sector are under-researched areas. This paper contributes to filling this gap by investigating two midsized Scottish charitable organizations that have weathered two significant crises: austerity as a result of the financial crisis of 2008 and the COVID-19 pandemic. The study findings enhance resilience research by shedding light on the processes, actions and collaborations that facilitate resilience, and the importance of adaptive capacity in response to crisis. Two distinct approaches to resilience were identified: (1) a strategic approach to resilience, where the charity thrived in the face of crisis and demonstrated high levels of adaptive capacity, and (2) a pragmatic approach, where resilience equated to survival, adaptive capacity was low and, as a result, growth was limited.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages24
JournalFinancial Accountability and Management
Early online date24 Jan 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Jan 2024


  • COVID-19
  • adaptive capacity
  • austerity
  • charities
  • resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)
  • General Business,Management and Accounting


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