The recent Barometer of Associations 2020 carried out on the initiative of the King Baudouin Foundation, draws up an alarming report for the voluntary sector: 49% of non-profit organisations have seen their financial situation deteriorate over the last 12 months (compared with 19% in 2018) and 95% believe that this situation is linked to the COVID-19 crisis. And a third of them don’t expect any improvement in the coming year.
While public subsidies have remained stable because they are recurrent, other sources of income have decreased, particularly donations (from individuals and private foundations). There has been also a significant decline in commercial income obtained from the sale of objects, impacted by the impossibility of organising usual mobilising events and activities in person (dinners, fancy fairs, concerts, sports activities, door-to-door sales, etc.).
In addition, one of the effects of the crisis was also a diversion of funds to health protection for the most disadvantaged (masks, fitting out premises, etc.) rather than to social integration missions.
The societal role of charities
It is important to outline a key societal role of non-profit organisations, both in terms of care and strengthening the social inclusion of the most disadvantaged. Our democracy can only be built of on the basis of an ethical code advocating values of compassion: a deep appreciation and understanding of misery experienced by deprived people surrounding us.
Non-profit organisations exist because they are a trigger which enables us to practise these values of compassion with the most suffering and destitute.
Their difficult financial situation must challenge us and call for solidarity, today and even more tomorrow, to allow a non-profit sector to continue to stay focused in this disturbing period which unfortunately is continuing.
Is digitalisation a vital transition?
The associations have shown imagination and creativity through new opportunities linked mainly to the development of digital activities: online donations, parcel distribution, auctions, virtual races and many more.
The importance of this digitalisation of the non-profit sector was highlighted by our Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during his introduction to the videoconference on this theme that our association United Fund for Belgium (UFB) recently organised with Thierry Geerts, CEO of Google Belgium, as keynote speaker.
This opening-up to digital technology should allow for more precise and targeted contact with both individuals and companies.
The societal role of the latter was still rather limited and very discreet. However, the development of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) policies within companies is becoming an important component of management practices, as they wish to have a tangible impact on society. The example of Anglo-Saxon companies is obvious here.
The digitisation of contacts and activities of associations thus becomes a tool for connecting with companies, and enables the latter to program and deploy more effectively their societal actions in favour of the most disadvantaged.
This is how raising funds within companies, or sales of objects, with or without auctions, can be rapidly organised. But it is important to note that the cost of digital development and its maintenance is a heavy burden to carry.
The consequences of the health crisis, which is still in progress, will not fade away for many months. Due to a very tight budget given to cover operating costs, which are also hardly compressed, non-profit organisations suffer from constant financial imbalance.
THEY therefore NEED you and your solidarity.
You can also have an impact on our Belgian society. Make an online donation; purchase products with a simple click on their website instead of buying on international platforms such as Amazon; take part in virtual events that non-profit organisations offer you: concerts, theatre, running, conferences.
In addition to that, you benefit from a tax deductibility of 45%.
United Fund for Belgium, our connection platform, has been working for almost 50 years to improve social integration; it has supported 2,800 projects submitted by various associations operating across Belgium to help the most disadvantaged, the disabled and children in difficulty. It is essential for us to continue to provide this support.
United Fund for Belgium asbl