Red flag raised as Salvation Army’s donations drop
For the first time in seven years, the Salvation Army has recorded a financial shortfall in charitable donations to support the increasing demand assistance.
According to Divisional Commander Major Shawn Critch, the first quarter of the year “is one of the lowest campaign results over the past decade”.
The first of two annual Red Shield Appeal Campaigns ended with a $75,000 shortfall at the end of June.
Overall, figures are down by $100,000 which has sent up a red flag in the lead up to the Army’s biggest push to help families in need at Christmas time.
For this helping agency the numbers point up the impact of Bermuda’s economic reality and speaks to the challenges faced by local charities.
“It speaks to the issue of capacity within the community as well, there’s only so much that people can give,” said Maj Critch.
“If we’re going into our Christmas fundraising drive significantly behind, then it will be a real challenge in making up that difference.”
The Salvation Army set a $1.1 million goal to maintain their commitment to the $2.1 million annual budget for social services in Bermuda.
“That’s pretty much the same as last year with marginal increases due to increased costs, inflation and things of that nature.
“We are $100,000 short compared to the first quarter of last year. We’re $75,000 short for the Spring Campaign, but $100,000 short overall and that’s not good,” he said.
Community and Family Services is 100 percent funded by the Red Shield Appeal Campaigns. Their annual costs have increased by $100,000 over the past three years.
Other programmes include the five-day feeding programme on North Street and the breakfast programme at the Emergency Housing Complex. Harbourlight and their Life Skills programme are partially funded by small grants from Government.
The latest fundraising challenges come at a time when the demand for help is at an all-time high.
“We are in the midst of a recession with people challenged by unemployment, reduced work hours and layoffs. We see that in all our Family Services programmes,” said Maj Critch.
“There’s a lot of families realising the brunt of the recession and they’re looking for help from helping agencies like the Salvation Army.
“Within the social networking community resources are getting to a point of being stretched as well. I think that’s the case for any number of local charities.
“As that need increases it’s going to become more challenging to realise you only have ‘x’ number of resources you can allocate to meet those identified needs.
“The challenge for the team, especially in our non-residential programmes, would be how can we make this go as far as we can to meet as many needs as possible,” he said.
But the monetary shortfall has created major concerns regarding what lies ahead.
“It’s raising a red flag, we’ve got to do a lot of work between now and the next campaign in November,” said Maj Critch.
“If we don’t close the gap the Christmas Campaign will have to be incredibly successful to meet the target and make up for the shortfall.
It makes for a very competitive climate for funds in philanthropic circles, but he stressed that the Salvation Army has been a vital part of the social fabric of Bermuda.
“We’ve been here since 1896, Family Services has been in operation for decades I read a report recently dating back to the 1960s.
“I don’t like using the word competitive, but it’s a competitive environment and it’s becoming even more competitive,” he said.
Despite the challenges, he said he is reminded daily of why their programmes exist in the first place, especially when he is approached by former residents.
“I was approached by a gentleman today who wanted to say ‘thank you’ for helping him to get his life back together after struggling with addiction.
“He said it’s been a number of years now since he’s been clean and that’s always encouraging.
“I realised again that it’s guys like him and so many others who make what we do worthwhile,” said Maj Critch.
“That’s what it’s all about. It’s seeing lives changed. It’s seeing people get their lives back together and go on to make valuable contributions to their community.
“That’s the essence of value that I believe the Salvation Army brings to the community. There’s some great opportunities for change out there. And we’re still very thankful to be part of the network that creates that opportunity for people.”
For more information e-mail Bermuda_Inquiries@can.salvationarmy.org.
Donations can be made online to HSBC 010-202539-001 quoting last name and SH13 or by mail to The Salvation Army, Summer Hope Campaign, PO Box HM2259, Hamilton HM JX.