Third sector groups are used to running a tight ship - but a thinner public purse could mean problems for many.
The recession has made fund-raising tougher and even Christmas did not bring much cheer for some.
With tighter council budgets across Sussex and Surrey over the next few years, many are concerned that services could suffer.
In Surrey alone there are 6000 groups of that kind - voluntary, community and faith-based.
"They have some real concerns that there are going to be cuts to their funding. It's a matter of how much and how quickly those cuts will come about."
Jean Roberts Jones, the chief executive of Surrey Community Action, says many groups she works with see 2011/12 as the year when problems could begin to emerge.
"I've been in the voluntary sector for over twenty years now and there have been peaks and troughs. I think this is the one where actually there are more question marks about than there have been in the the past." she said.
In Surrey the county council has told the BBC that it is aiming at spending cuts of up to 25 per cent over the next 3-5 years. At least 25,000 council jobs in England will be under threat in the next three to five years, a
There the charity Disabled Challengers has urged councillors to think carefully when they consider grants to the charitable sector.
The charity runs play and leisure groups for children across the county, aimed both at helping children to learn and to give respite to parents and carers.
"In terms of what's going to happen to us if they cut our funding, it's relatively simple. We can't increase funding any more. We are already asking the community to help us out a lot so we would have to cut our services," said spokesman Adam Edwards.
Margrit Hose runs Chichester's Dial-a-Ride service, which was set up when bus services were discontinued because they were no longer profitable.
Her customers are elderly and sometimes disabled, using the service as low-cost transport to the city from the city's rural outskirts.
Like Robert, who is 71. For him, the Dial a Ride is a way of connecting back into a community of friends.
"First I generally has my dinner, then I generally walk around the town. Then I bump into my old mates sometimes - you know." he said.
The bus service, according to Margrit Hose, is just covering its costs. She sees the service as vital - getting people who might otherwise be housebound out into the wider world.
But she admits to feeling vulnerable in the new, chill, climate.
"We can appreciate that councils have been squeezed as well with the lack of funding from central government.'
"You can only go for so long with not being properly funded. Eventually we are going to have to replace our buses and that will be a crunch time, because one of these buses costs £45,000 ."
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