Vital’ leading charity faces funding crisis
An organisation set up to help other charities almost 30 years ago could be forced to shut before Christmas unless donors come forward, its executive director has warned.
Danielle Riviere, of The Centre on Philanthropy, said the charity needed a firm commitment of cash by December 15 to avoid closure.
She added that “the backbone of the non-profit sector” provided training and education, helped foster collaboration and supported the volunteer spirit — which would be lost to the charity sector if the Hamilton-based centre had to shut down.
Ms Riviere said: “The centre’s mission is to build capacity within the non-profit sector so that donor dollars are used more effectively and efficiently.
“This includes training and education, providing resources like volunteer.bm, advocacy and leadership within the non-profit sector.”
She added: “We need staffing — we have two employees, an executive director and a community engagement co-ordinator, and we need a programme director and a development and business relations director.
“It comes down to ensuring that we are able to sustainably move forward.”
Ms Riviere took over as executive director and Joel Schaefer became board chairman last year.
The two carried out a review of the centre’s direction and drew up a “theory of change” approach to the organisation.
She explained that the review found that there was “a misconception that giving to the centre takes funds away from other charities.”
But she added: “In fact, the opposite is true. What we do is help those organisations be more effective and at little or no cost to them.”
Ms Riviere said she had also met interested parties to outline the theory of change approach, which was designed to make sure that charities could deliver their programmes in an efficient way and that donations were used to get the highest rate of return.
She explained: “Our Theory of Change looks at three aspects, capacity building, research and data, and advocacy.
“It will provide the opportunity for non-profit organisations to function more cohesively, it will be an opportunity for them to gain the knowledge they need to look at impact data and it will provide a link between Government, non-profits and donors.”
Ms Riviere said: “Donors are learning and they are intrigued and interested. From July to October, we did stakeholder sessions with non-profits and donors — we know that they are interested but we are running out of time.
“What we need right now is really some transformative donors that understand the power of a centralised organisation focused on bringing about change within the non-profit sector that will refocus how we are able to deliver services.
“It will extend the donor dollar by making it more impactful for the non-profit that donors are already funding.”
Mr Schaefer added: “We have so much important work to do for Bermuda, especially in a difficult economy, where donor dollars are hard to come by.”
Senior figures in the charity sector threw their support behind the organisation.
Martha Dismont, the executive director of Family Centre, said: “The Centre on Philanthropy is a vital organisation supporting the strengthening of the charitable sector.
“I have heard repeatedly from agencies in the third sector how difficult it has become to raise sufficient funds to operate.”
She added: “The centre’s difficulty is indicative of everyone’s challenge in this sector to raise the necessary funds. The centre cannot support agencies if they are not supported to operate.”
Kelly Hunt, the executive director of the Coalition for the Protection of Children, said: “The Centre on Philanthropy has been instrumental in terms of training, advocacy and the collaboration of not-for-profits in Bermuda.
“The implementation of their Theory of Change would have a much needed impact on the entire sector, which would be hugely valuable to the community as a whole. From our perspective, their dissolution would be a great loss for the island.”
• For more information or to make a donation to the Centre on Philanthropy, contact Ms Riviere on 236-7706 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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