Charities to be funded on multi-annual basis, says minister

Charities to be funded on multi-annual basis, says minister

Minister of state for community development and charities Joe O'Brien. Picture: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The Government is to fund charities on a multi-annual basis as the sector continues to experience unprecedented revenue loss since the outbreak of Covid.

Charities now expect to be down €445m this year after the pandemic halted a huge number of fundraising events, leaving many organisations fearing that they will not be able to provide services next year.

"Many of the larger organisations would have had some kind of emergency rainy-day reserve funds, but they're being depleted over the course of this year," said Ivan Cooper, director of public policy with The Wheel, a national association of charities.

"The real concern, which is the question of course nobody can answer, is the extent to which the negative impact on fundraising and income is going to continue into next year."

Minister of state for community development and charities Joe O'Brien has said that multi-annual funding of charities is now "the golden ticket" and he wants to see organisations provided with funding on a three- or five-year basis.

"So many organisations only get funding from year to year, and it's very hard to plan," he said.

High-profile charities have today highlighted the pressure that Covid has put them under, saying it will be "extremely challenging" to stay afloat and provide services in 2021.

"We are expecting that the next six to 18 months will be an extremely challenging fundraising environment as the novelty factor of digital fundraising events wears off," said acting CEO of the Irish Cancer Society Conor King. "We are already seeing worrying dips in income in the second half of the year, and are concerned about the negative economic aftereffects of Covid on our fundraising efforts."

Trócaire's Lenten campaign raised €1m less than expected this year, while the Peter McVerry Trust estimates that it will be down €2m this year.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr O'Brien said the Government are "just not in a position to 100% replace all of the funding lost", but pointed to an extra €10m which had been provided in the Budget.

Mr O'Brien also wants to ramp up funding through philanthropy, which he says is "underdeveloped" in this country.

"It's about making it more and more strategic as well, as we can steer philanthropy towards particular areas or particular organisations that are in a good place to use the money well," he said.

He said the culture and acceptance of philanthropy needs to be "worked on" so that more people do give to worthy causes.

"It's also a little bit there of you kind of damned if you do and damned if you don't," he said. "If you've done well for yourself in Ireland and you do want to give back to society, you can get flack for doing so. But you also get flack for not doing so as well.

"Some people will want to do a public thing, but a lot of people want to give privately as well, they don't want to be known."

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