CHARITIES Time to Tighten the Belt

With resources being scarce, charities are forced to look for alternative ways to continue their work<br><STRONG>Bhagirath Yogi</STRONG> in London

Jan. 10, 2011, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.: 04 No .-14 Jan. 07-2011 (Poush 23,2067)

As the year 2010 was drawing to a close, British government announced a plan asking banks to adopt a system that will allow people to make a small donation to charity whenever they withdraw cash.

Officials said the government also wants shops to offer customers the opportunity to “round up the pound” when using a debit or credit card, with the extra money going to charity.

Under the proposals, anyone making sizeable charitable donations would get letters from ministers.

 “We are arguing for new social attitudes that celebrate giving,” said Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude. “Talking about what we do for good causes is often seen as vulgar. But sharing experiences can inspire others.

“Giving is too often characterised as worthy and selfless, but there’s nothing wrong with doing things for each other and repaying kindnesses. If we can agree as a society the values that underpin helping each other we can unlock huge potential for a stronger, bigger society,” he added.
Spending Cuts

These proposals are being floated at a time when the new coalition government, led by David Cameron, has announced plans to cut 81 billion pounds of budget deficit (some 10 percent of the country’s GDP) over the next four years.

Many charities are facing difficulties to shore up their funds at a time when the economy is not doing good. Thousands of businesses have closed down  and over 2.4 million people are estimated to be unemployed. Of them, nearly 1.5 million depend on weekly grants from the government.

Despite such bleak scenario, Britain ranks eighth among the top charitable nations. According to the World Giving Index, compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation last year, about 73 percent of the Britons donate money every year giving charities an estimated 10.6 billion annually.

Some charities are already employing innovative strategies to broaden their support base. Ranjan Baral, database officer at the Brooke Hospital for Animals (The Brooke), said that his charity had aimed to raise over 12 million pounds in the year 2009/10. The Brooke—that works in the area of animal welfare in 11 countries including Nepal—in fact raised over 13 million pound—a record amount for the Charity. “Besides working closely with our existing supporters, we are working on to find new supporters for our work and have developed the supporter care strategy,” said Baral.

Oxfam—a British charity that works in the area of poverty alleviation—called upon volunteers to run marathon in order to raise funds. “250 million people are affected by disasters every year. Our runners believe that people around the world have a right to survive and to live free from poverty. Use your determination to run for Oxfam,” said its website.

Nepali youths, studying and working in the UK, have been taking part in the British 10 K Run for the last three years to support charitable causes in Nepal. They also set up a charity, Run for Change ( to institutionalise their initiative. The charity raised over 6,500 pounds last year to support three schools in Nepal in partnership with the Help Nepal Network (HeNN), another UK-registered charity.

“The British economy is yet to recover fully from the shocks of the  global economic recession. But we have found that people are still enthusiastic and are forthcoming to support the charities of their choice,” said Paras Joshi, coordinator of the Run for Change.

Only those charities that learn their lessons fast are likely to survive in these trying times.

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