Charities feel impact of recession

Damaged shopping trolley - photo: Unsplash.com
Photo by Jorge Fernández Salas on Unsplash

The amount of funding available to Irish charities appears to be dwindling as the economy continues to deteriorate, according to Teresa Harrington, a partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers and leader of the firm’s charity and not-for-profit sector team. She told the Sunday Business Post that anecdotal evidence indicated that there had a fall-off of up to 20 per cent in the amounts being raised by charities.

Lorna Cronnelly, communications manager with the Dublin Simon Community, said it is a very difficult climate to fundraise at the moment.

She said Simon was facing a shortfall on its fundraising target for this year, while also anticipating a huge increase in demand for its services for the homeless in the months ahead. Cronnelly said the charity had hoped to raise €4 million this year, but it was not looking likely that it would reach this target. She said a similar fundraising target would be set next year.

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While fundraising is proving difficult, Cronnelly said individuals’ donations were holding up better than financial support from corporates.

Some HNWI’s deferring giving

Niall O’Sullivan, head of fund development at the Community Foundation for Ireland (CFI) said the financial crisis meant that some high-net worth individuals were deferring plans to include philanthropy as part of their wealth management strategy. He said the foundation was also seeing a sharp increase in requests for funding from charities.

O’Sullivan said the CFI’s grass roots grant programme, which gives between €500 and €5,000 to small local charities and projects, was seven times oversubscribed this year. He predicted at least a similar level of demand next year.

Last year, Revenue Commissionses refunded more than €25million to charities in relation to qualifying donations of €46.8 million made by 80,974 individual PAYE donors. In the previous year, refunds of €28.5million were made, based on donations of €58.4 million by 84,373 PAYE donors.

The consensus among charities is that 2009 will be a challenging year, but there is still a sense of optimism that consumers will continue to dig deep in support of worthy causes. Another change is on the horizon for the charity sector next year, with the Charities Bill likely to be enacted in early 2009.