Charities impacted by recession

With the Cayman economy slowing and likely in a recession, Cayman charitable organisations are suffering from the financial decline.

People are being much more carefully with giving. After all, paying bills comes first.

This means that organisations depending heavily on contributions such as government funding may be forced to shut their doors; run less effective programs or seek other alternatives.

Most of these organisations have not received an annual government subsidy for obvious reasons – government is lacking funds.

‘We are concerned that we may not be able to continue to operate our programmes if things don’t change very soon,’ said National Council of Volunteer Services chief executive officer Janice Wilson.

According to Ms Wilson donations to most of the programmes have been severely impacted by the current financial crisis.

She said they have been fortunate over the years in getting funding on specific projects but donations have been fewer and fewer.

This means that the organisation now has to foot the bill for expenses such as food, utilities, maintenance and staffing, which are crucial to the existence of the organization, she said.

‘Most of our donations come from government, pledges, companies and private individuals, which are all being severely impacted by the global recession.’

Donations from the community are also fewer at Cayman Hospice Care, said Office Manager Jennifer Grant -McCarthy.

‘Individuals are choosing more carefully which charity they want to donate to and the events they want to attend,’ she said.

‘Many organizations are now combining their marketing and straight charity budgets.’

She said they had a strategy where major fundraising projects were underwritten before a dime was spent.

‘Once a project is underwritten we are able to assure people that their contribution is a one hundred percent donation to the charity,’ she said.

Despite the slight reduction in donations, she said Cayman Hospice Care still had dedicated volunteers and contributors.

At the Cayman Islands Red Cross, Director Jondo Obi said there has been a slight decrease in outside donations.

‘The financial support has not been as strong this year, given the global financial decline that is happening at present,’ said Ms Obi.

She said a lot of times most of the support came from businesses and the community during a disaster. She stressed that the Red Cross is also involved in other programmes such as highlighting awareness, preparedness and risk reductions year round and the more support they got from the community the better they were able to assist.

Over at the Cayman Islands Humane Society the recession has put a financial crunch on the organisation, said president Carolyn Parker.

‘We are watching our spending and thinking about reducing costs, as well as making greater efforts to increase fundraising activities,’ she said.

‘Donations are really unpredictable but we continue to receive support and good sales for the book loft and the thrift shop.’

She said they were still getting some good donations from devoted benefactors, but did not know how long it would continue. She said in the meantime the society would look at to tighten their belts without lessening the services.

The society is also facing difficulties with goods and supplies; veterinary costs; increased electricity and insurance bills, animals left by people who cannot afford to maintain them; declining ccorporate donations and fundraisers not being well attended.

Animal adoptions are also down and general donations have decreased.

At the CAYS Foundation, which caters to young boys and girls, chief executive officer Angela Sealey said the effect of the present financial situation has impacted the staff of the Foundation.

Items such as training and development had to be removed from the budget, in an effort not to cut any items that would impact the clients, she said.

According to Ms Sealey donations are solicited from the private sector by sending out letters and making phone calls but more companies have indicated their inability to give as little as $50.

‘We recently had to put a project on hold because of lack of funding from the private sector,’ she said.

She said last year was spent building awareness in the community because the general community did not know of CAYS.

‘We had to do an awareness programme, however, last year (2008-2009) we were able to collect approximately $5,000.00.’

She said it should be noted that in many cases the organisation did not collect cash but was able to get assistance with food, to off-set the cost of an event.

To date she said they did not have a final budget but when it is received she said she will be able to see what major cuts will have to be made.

Persons who can provide mentoring, assistance such as painting, garden, lawn maintenance and special skills or trades that can be taught to the residents can contact the CAYS Head Office at 946-2446.