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Community and Voluntary Sector funding and COVID-19
Social Justice Ireland welcomes the launch of a €40 million package of supports for Community and Voluntary Organisations, Charities and Social Enterprises announced by the Minister for Rural and Community Development on the 8th May.
The package consists of:
- a €35 million 'COVID-19 Stability Fund' which will provide a level of support to qualifying organisations who are most in need and have seen their trading and/or fundraising income drop significantly during the crisis
- a €5 million government commitment to a Philanthropy Fund, (Innovate Together) which will focus on supporting responses to the COVID-19 crisis that require innovative and adaptive solutions to existing and emerging challenges
The COVID- 19 emergency has highlighted the impact of inequality in both health and socio-economic terms. These in turn have made coping in this period much more difficult for those affected by these issues. The crisis has also shone a light on the major role and value of the community and voluntary sector in the social and economic fabric of our country. Across the country thousands of community and voluntary organisations are working together with State bodies, schools, our postal service and frontline services to bring supports to those in need, while helping to inform policy on protecting the most vulnerable at national level.
While we welcome this additional funding of €40m insofar as it goes, the funding challenges that the Community and Voluntary Sector has faced since 2008 have never been resolved and will be further exacerbated by the current crisis.
Community and Voluntary organisations have a long history of providing services and infrastructure at local and national level. They are engaged in most, if not all, areas of Irish society. They provide huge resources in energy, personnel, finance and commitment that, were it to be sourced on the open market, would come at considerable cost to the State. They have developed flexible approaches and collaborative practices that are responsive and effective in meeting the needs of diverse target groups. There are an estimated 189,000 employees in registered charitable organisations in Ireland. Over half of all registered charities have between one and 20 volunteers, with three per cent having 250 or more. It is estimated that the value of this volunteering work, using the minimum wage, is €648.8 million per year (this increases to €1.5 billion when using the average income). It is important to note, however, that this report is based on those charities that are required to register with the Charities Regulator, which accounts for approximately 300,536 volunteers. The CSO put the number of volunteers at nearer one million, when sporting, human rights, religious and political organisations are included.
During the recession Government funding for the Community and Voluntary sector reduced dramatically and this has not, as yet, been restored. It is essential that Government appropriately resource this sector into the future and that it remains committed to the principle of providing multi-annual statutory funding.