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Cash-strapped charities need backing

The failure to support cash-strapped charities in the future will create a “survival of the fittest” situation, a prominent figurehead warns.

Elaine Butterfield, the executive director at The Centre on Philanthropy, said that under the proposed Budget tabled last Friday, charities would remain in their current state of “having to strive harder to thrive”, after contributions were cut “tremendously” in previous years.

“Our community cannot afford for some charities to wind up, especially those services which support families, housing, abuse, food, addiction, etc,” Ms Butterfield said.

She was happy to see a boost for the Salvation Army, whose work “will have a tremendous impact on the community in the long run”, but concerned that the long-term consequences of funding for charities not being increased will lead to a “survival of the fittest” situation.

“The 20 per cent downsizing in the number of charities is not solely because of the implementation of the Charities Act 2014,” Ms Butterfield said. “Some have chosen to close shop because of lack of funding.

“It would have been good to see a strategy around supporting social services providers, who greatly lessen the burden of the Government to provide a striving society for our Bermuda.”

A re-evaluation of priorities may be required to enact significant change, she said.

“We are a very materialistic country and perhaps it is time to look at who we have become and is this sustainable - from the top down.

“Whoever the next Government is, it would be so good to see some leadership in this thought process. The current direction seems to be creating a greater divide between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’.”

Extending the age of retirement, and teaching financial skills in the classroom beginning from primary school would be beneficial, Ms Butterfield said.

Going beyond the “status quo” is also needed to ensure the island’s future success.

“The real objective of our service is to diminish and ultimately eliminate the causes that we serve,” Ms Butterfield said.

“This will take strategy and collaborative support from all sectors and not just finances.”

Elaine Butterfield, executive director at The Centre on Philanthropy (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)