Charity centre closure creates ‘gap in services’

  • Danielle Riviere (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

    Danielle Riviere (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The loss of an organisation set up to help island charities has damaged the non-profit sector, its former executive director said.

Danielle Riviere added the biggest loss from the closure of the Centre on Philanthropy was the opportunity for charities to expand.

Ms Riviere said: “The centre was moving in a direction that would have helped the non-profit sector to grow and develop.

“The loss is the growth of where the non-profit sector has to go.”

She added the resources for training and collaboration the centre provided other groups would be missed.

Ms Riviere said: “Training gaps will occur. There’ll be a gap in access to resources. There’ll be a gap around the advocacy aspect of having an entity who can speak and act and gather organisations to create the united voice.

“The gap on the side for the donor community is a central resource.”

Ms Riviere added that private firms would also be affected.

She said: “I’ve had a couple of companies contact me because they’re trying to link to a charity or find out information — and I have shut down my database, so I don’t have that information.

“It is a resource piece that will be greatly missed in the space.”

The centre closed at the end of December because of a lack of funding.

Gina Spence, a community activist and head of the charity Gina Spence Productions, said the centre had been “the mother for our charities”.

Ms Spence added: “That’s where we got most of our training and direction. They were our training ground — the place where charities got great information, support and empowerment.”

Ms Spence, who has organised a Valentine’s Day fundraiser for her group along with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bermuda, said it showed how “all charities have to find a unique and different way to raise funds”.

“She added: “At the moment, fundraising is very challenging for charities. We can see that with the charity that helped manage others closing its doors due to funding, or lack thereof.

“We’ve had to get creative. No longer can you just send out a letter or a proposal and be assured that your organisation will get that support.”

Ms Riviere said the centre was the “hub” of Bermuda’s charity sector.

She added: “We facilitated a pass-through of items that companies were getting rid of to make sure that they didn’t end up in the dump, and ended up instead in the hands of charities.

“We’ve had people call and ask what’s going to happen with that — from both sides.”

Ms Riviere said that she was still working out of the centre’s former offices on Wesley Street in Hamilton as a volunteer to “wind things up”.

She added: “I still have people walking in the door who want to start charities, or want to better understand that process. I still have people walking in the door looking for volunteer opportunities.

“It is interesting that even after we have officially shut down that the evidence of how we supported both the donor community — the non-profit sector — and the community at large continues to show itself and continues to leave the question of who and how does this support continue in some way.”

She said there had been an “outpouring of appreciation” for the centre’s work after the closure was announced.

Ms Riviere added that the transfer of the centre’s work to other charitable groups would be difficult.

Ms Riviere explained: “What we’re doing is creating another capacity issue for another organisation.

“We don’t want training to stop, so we’re trying to get another organisation to take it on.”

She added: “They don’t have the capacity to take it on.”

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Published Feb 13, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated Feb 13, 2020 at 6:27 am)

Charity centre closure creates ‘gap in services’

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