Tuesday, December 17, 2013

SVP services to be hit as donations fall 25%

The Society of St Vincent de Paul may be forced to cut back vital appeal services this Christmas after suffering a 25% slump in donations due to the Central Remedial Clinic top-ups scandal.
The organisation — which provides care to families and children on the periphery of society — revealed the situation as it urged people not to turn their back on the charity sector.

A spokesman told the Irish Examiner that despite the recession, its annual appeal donation levels have remained stable in recent years at over €1.2m.

However, since this year’s Christmas campaign — which provides food, toys, clothes, and heating assistance to at least 150,000 families nationwide — was launched on Nov 20, donations have fallen by €300,000 compared to 2012.

While the spokesman insisted the charity would not turn away anybody seeking help, he said the slump in funds means the same level of service as previous years will not be possible this Christmas.

“That’s what I’m saying; it won’t be possible to give the same amount of help,” he said.

“We will never turn anyone away and we are going to push to help the same number of people as before, but there is no question it will affect us.”

The 25% figure was calculated by the St Vincent de Paul after a meeting of its national management council on Saturday. The council consists of representatives from 1,200 local groups across the country.

The group said local estimates suggest Dublin donations are down by as much as €150,000, with other parts of the country also suffering from a lack of faith in charities.

While the spokesman noted that the recent natural disaster in the Philippines has impacted on how much money people have to give at home, he said the top-ups scandal in charities like the CRC has badly damaged the sector’s credibility.

The point was further emphasised by St Vincent de Paul national president, Geoff Meagher, who said “the current controversy surrounding charitable donations has probably had an affect”.

Mr Meagher said the group fully supports the regulation of charities and stressed its accounts are published in full every year.

A total of 92% of charitable donations to the group are spent on frontline services, with just 8% used for administrative purposes.

News of the St Vincent de Paul funding drop comes after Fundraising Ireland revealed last week that some charities have been hit by a 40% cut in public support sincethe CRC top-ups scandal emerged.

The group’s chief executive, Anne Hannify, said the dramatic funding drop is punishing innocent groups and vulnerable people dependent on their help.

She said that anybody with concerns about how their donations are spent has a right to see audited accounts from the charity in question and can ask for specific details on how their money will be spent before donating.

* Donate to the St Vincent de Paul at www.svp.ie, at the virtual gift store on www.svp.ie/ giftstore, or via the charity group’s national office on 01 838990.

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