Almost 40% of charities say income was down in 2015
Ivan Cooper from The Wheel says economic recovery is yet to reach social services
Geoff Meagher, national president of St Vincent de Paul (SVP), said the organisation is seeing an “alarming level” of calls despite the recent improvement in the economy. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times
Charities are continuing to suffer as a result of the economic crash with many reporting a significant decline in funding despite improving economic conditions over the past year.
Research conducted by The Wheel, a national network of 950 charities, found 39 per cent of the 571 charities surveyed said their income decreased over the past year.
Of the 55 per cent of charities surveyed that fundraise from the public, 39 per cent reported a fall in public donations over the past year.
The survey found that 44 per cent of charities recorded a decrease in state funding while one in three reported an increase over the same period.
Of those reporting a decline in donations, 52 per cent recorded a decrease of 10 per cent or less. More than a quarter – 27 per cent – received corporate donations in the past year, up 1 per cent on 2014.
“While there has been an economic pick-up it has yet to flow through in to the area of social provision and addressing social need,” said Ivan Cooper, director of advocacy with The Wheel.
Social services budgets
He said: “We have to recognise that the way we do social services in Ireland is that a great many of those services are in fact delivered by independent charitable organisations on behalf of statutory departments.”
“Our primary call is for a restoration of budgets for social and healthcare services and a prioritisation of that over the tax-cutting agenda.”
While the economic indicators remain positive, charities continue to experience an increased demand on the services they provide.
The society recorded 10,000 calls for help to the SVP east region office which covers Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow in November alone. The calls represent a 7 per cent increase on the same month last year.
“Similar trends are being experienced in different parts of the country. We continue to appeal for public donations to help us to meet the demand for support that we continue to receive,” Mr Meagher said.
The level of donations of food and toys “has been excellent” this year but the level of financial donations continues to be “challenging”.
Public donations to Concern are down 30 per cent since the financial crisis but a spokeswoman said 2015 was on a par with recent years.
Mr Cooper added: Average salaries are now lower than they were pre-crisis. Charities have not awarded any pay rises over that time period. Many staff, through natural wastage, have not been replaced.”