Funding for charities and community organisations should be allocated multi-annually so non-profits can plan ahead, a new campaign targeting candidates in the local and European elections has said.
Members of The Wheel’s Community Matters campaign gathered outside Dublin City Council’s offices on Tuesday, calling on candidates to sign a pledge which includes a call for funding to be given for more than a year at a time to charity, community and voluntary organisations.
The pledge also includes a commitment to value the work of the non-profit sector; to create strong links between national and local governments to enable community and voluntary organisations to participate in policy-making; to support a review of compliance requirements to help streamline the review process; and to support NGOs in contributing at local government level.
Paul Gordon from the Irish Cancer Society warned that the reliance on annual budget funding had made long-term planning for NGOs very difficult.
“In the health sector at least, multi-annual budgeting would be hugely helpful, particularly if we’re looking at implementing big policy initiatives like Sláintecare,” he said.
“It’s something that would help ensure small voluntary organisations can operate and actually plan strategically for the coming years rather than just treading water.”
Sarah Monaghan, campaign manager with The Wheel, a network of community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises, agreed that multi-annual funding would allow organisations to plan three to five years in advance rather than being limited to short-term goals.
Ms Monaghan also highlighted the need to streamline reporting and compliance requirements within the sector.
“We’ve had an increase in reporting requirements which has been very welcome. However, there hasn’t been resources put into the staffing required to do that. We’re finding a lot of staff and volunteers in charitable organisations are spending their time behind an admin desk rather than actually focusing on those they want to help.”
Fill the gaps
Ms Monaghan said she hoped the campaign would remind candidates running in the upcoming elections of the work carried out by organisations who often “fill the gaps in terms of support for those that the State are unable to help”.
Deirdre Garvey, chief executive of The Wheel, called on candidates to “publicly commit their support for the non-profit sector” ahead of the election.
“We want to ensure the focus remains where it should be – on the people in the communities whom candidates seek to represent.”
Some 289,197 people work in the charity sector, while more than 300,000 people volunteer for registered charities with an economic value of €649 million per year for the volunteer work they do, according to research from the charities regulator.