Our organization United Fund for Belgium (UFB) has not been idle in the wake of the national disaster and the bad weather that hit the heavily affected areas last week.
As part of our mission to help social integration in Belgium and our support for associations that help the most disadvantaged, children in distress and the disabled, we have launched a call for projects among its non-profit organizations, in order to help them financially if they have suffered significant damage that prevents them from fulfilling their mission.
At the same time, we have launched a campaign to raise funds from its donors, both companies and individuals.
We know that many companies, employees and individuals are joining forces to help people in distress. It was therefore essential for United Fund for Belgium to provide immediate help to the associations it supports.
This new special campaign is particularly aimed at some of the most at-risk and needy organizations that will face major challenges.
Let’s not forget people in need, with or without disabilities, people from all socio-economic backgrounds, now and always in the post-Covid period.
You can now directly support the critical needs of these organizations by supporting the UFB campaign.
Make a donation via the UFB “SOS FLOODS” campaign by making a donation on the UFB donations page or on the UFB account BE71 9530 0000 0369 with the mention SOS FLOODS.
As every year at the closure of annual financial statements, the President of United Fund for Belgium writes the Activity Report of the past fiscal year of our association in his “President’s Letter”. We invite you to discover it in the article below.
As mentioned in my letter of the last year, it was at the end of our previous fiscal year that the Covid-19 crisis burst in all its brutal force: United Fund for Belgium was forced to cancel its biennial Gala Dinner, to close down its office and the interaction with the Associations we supported came to a nearly total standstill. During this entire fiscal year 2020/2021, we have remained totally virtual when it comes to our daily operations, our Board Meetings and even our Annual General Assembly in June last year.
We launched a special Covid-19 Campaign supporting our Associations in their effort to adapt to the new normal and this campaign turned out to be a financial success: we raised 42 k€ in a very short period, supporting 24 special Covid projects. On the contrary, our autumn activities were limited to our Golf Tournament and a number of digital events, which turned out to be well attended but financially very poor. Needless to say that we continue learning on a daily basis on how to navigate this new normal. I can now confirm to you that as an organization, we have withstood this brutal storm, even more, we have delivered a very good year as you will see from the numbers below. Our donors, our Board and our Executive Team have performed superbly in these very, very difficult circumstances. Last year I quoted Churchill who said: “Difficulties mastered are opportunities won” and I believe we have never been as close as we can to our beneficiary organizations and donors and have laid the foundation for even more opportunities.
During the Campaign 2020/2021, United Fund for Belgium has financed projects for k€ 731, distributing that amount to 114 different charity projects from associations across the whole country, including 24 projects supported as part of the “coronavirus” campaign. This is substantially higher than last year (k€ 482) and more importantly, the second highest level of the last five years.
As importantly, we have continued to diversify our sources of funding. Corporate donations remain of course the single largest component and increased substantially this year (K€ 598 vs K€ 489 in 2019-2020), which is very good news. They were reinforced by very successful in house-campaigns at some of our donors (K€ 50 vs K€ 31) and individual gifts (K€ 12 vs K€ 18), although the latter were a little weaker.
Also, due to the Covid-19 situation, corporate donors were not able to organize any “voluntary days” (K€0 vs K€8) but our special Corona Campaign managed to raise 42 k€ in a very short 1-month period.
Covid-19 hit us particularly hard in the profits from sales & fundraising events: they fell from K€ 146 to K€ 56 this year. The merchandise sales activities, such as the Dandoy Speculoos at St Nicolas, the Galler chocolate Easter-eggs and the Xmas cards, were still successful (K€ 40 vs k€ 47) but when it comes to events, the situation was critical (k € 15 vs k€ 90).
Fortunately, donations to help cover operational costs and/or build up the Martin Kallen Fund remained nearly stable (k€ 86 vs k€ 89 last year).
As a result of all this, total contributions reached k€ 845 this year (vs k€ 772 in 2019-20) a solid 9.5 % increase vs last year which we can consider as a success in these very difficult Covid-19 conditions.
As mentioned before, this year, donations collected via the corporate & individual fundraising campaign, will be distributed to 114 different charity projects across the whole country.
We have continued our efforts to professionalize and digitalize our operations. Also, we have continued to strengthen our team with the arrival of Ms. Yana Antalovtsi, Marketing & Communication Coordinator.
We have started this new fiscal year with a different mindset: we hope that after the summer, we will be able to hold some serious “live” activities given the improvement in the Covid-19 situation. This fiscal year will only be 9 months long as the Board has decided to adjust our fiscal year with the Calendar year and it will thus end on 31/12/2021.
The team is determined to be closer than ever to our current communities so that together we can continue supporting social integration in Belgium, a need that is better understood by us all than ever before after this painful period in our history as human societies.
Next year 2022 will be an exceptional year as we will celebrate our 50-year existence. The unique success that United Fund for Belgium has achieved over those 50 years is, however, owed mainly to our donors and to the many volunteers who help and have helped our cause (including the members of the Board Committees and my colleagues in the Board of Directors). As President, I already want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all of them and invite all of you to join us in these celebrations.
As the result of the coronavirus crisis, poverty rates are increasing. According to the Statbel data, the Belgian statistical office, in 2020, more than 2 million Belgians are facing poverty or social exclusion.
We know three indicators of poverty in the framework of the European policy: low income, severe material deprivation, very low labour intensity households.
According to the first of these indicators, 15.5% of the Belgian population is at high risk of poverty. This category includes single-parent families, the unemployed, young people 18-24, people with a low level of education.
In Belgium, we have 5.5% of the population living in extreme instability, suffering from significant material deprivation.
According to the third indicator, 14.6% of the population in Belgium is at risk of poverty due to low work intensity.
The situation is alarming, because here we are talking about figures from 2020 when the Covid-19 crisis had just begun.
No doubt, nowadays in 2021, the figures of the social and financial impact of the health crisis have considerably changed.
A new documentary has been released to explain the current poverty figures in Belgium and the reality of social assistance services in the context of the coronavirus crisis.
The author of the films ‘Le Prix du Pain’ (2012) and ‘Volontaire’ (2017), Yves Dorme, started his third project and launched the new documentary ‘S’appauvrir’.
This documentary speaks about the challenges that social workers are confronted with more and more often. According to the filmmaker, it was important to illustrate poverty management system in Belgium.
Social exclusion is increasing and social assistance services are not sufficient to allow people to live with dignity. All these topics are highlighted in the documentary.
The film can be viewed by clicking on the following link ‘S’appauvrir’, Yves Dorme.
We celebrate the International Children’s Day on 20th November since 1945, bringing forward some important issues about child welfare. Child abuse, forced labour, poverty, limited or no access to education, this list can be very long.
We are not 20th November today, but it seems to be important to speak about children’s well-being during these uncertain times. According to the report of the international organisation Human Rights Watch, even though children are less likely to get Covid-19 or have much lighter symptoms, they seem to be facing more serious problems due to the ongoing health crisis.
Up to 1,5 billion children were obliged to start homeschooling in 2020, whether they have or not access to the Internet. Unstable financial situation, working from home on a long-term basis, economic uncertainty and isolation tend to put even more pressure on parents, increasing domestic violence and child abuse.
Belgium is not an exception. In Belgium, children and teenagers seem to have acquired mental health issues during the lockdown. Constant isolation, impossibility to meet with friends and inaccessible sports facilities have impacted them strongly.
The activity of United Fund for Belgium is based on promoting social integration in our country. Every layer of society is vital, especially the one that requires building strong foundation and protection. We do claim that we care about the welfare of future generations. But what is the future if we forget about the present?
Fortunately, there is a great number of non-profit organisations that concentrate their activity on promoting children’s welfare and creating conditions for child’s physical, emotional and intellectual development.
ECOCULTURE asbl is a charity, situated in Brussels, which organises cultural, theatrical and sport events for children. It has developed close relationships with Brussels and regional schools, which allows them to prepare various entertaining events. Their goal is to provide children from different backgrounds to get access to culture and develop open-mindedness towards cultures across globe.
Now, when all theatres, museums, exhibitions, operas are closed, we should evoke the importance of cultivating our young generations, preserving interest in art and culture.
Without doubt, they slowed down their activity due to the coronavirus crisis; however, they stay positive and try to integrate their societal job in current scenario.
You may enjoy their testimonial speaking about how they have dealt with first lockdown and their plans for future by clicking on the following link Ecoculture asbl.
LES PETITS SAPINS DE WATERLOO asbl is a non-profit organisation, situated in Brabant Wallon region. They welcome up to 15 girls and boys coming from disadvantages families (alcoholism, drug abuse, mistreatment etc.)
Their mission consists in helping children rediscover joyful environment, regain mental, physical and emotional stability.
United Fund for Belgium is very proud to be able to help such organisations. Despite the limited resources, this charity keeps pursuing its main objective – working closely with families to find agreement and give a second chance, where it is possible.
It is essential to support such organisations more than ever. Hundreds of families now live in poverty due to precarious employment and job losses, putting parents in additional distress and anxiety. For too many children, living in such conditions may represent a higher risk of violence and abuse.
Therefore, any kind of action to support these charities is extremely precious. Every child deserves to have a smile on their face.
AMBER vzw is a Flemish-based non-profit organisation, whose activity involves many aspects of child upbringing.
They offer support to children, having difficult relationships within family, friends and other groups of contact.
This organisation has a large team of specialists, who have developed four programs (trainings), created to solve specific problems (building relationships, financial issues, conflict management etc).
It is important to mention that the charity welcomes young people of different ages, from 0 to 25 years.
There is a plenty of information available to consult on their website, which you may visit by clicking on the picture below.
At United Fund for Belgium, we are proud to support such non-profit organisations and become part of their community. We are determined to demonstrate their efforts to bring social change. Their direct impact is our reward.
Digital Marketing offers a great number of possibilities for non-profit organisations.
However, the usage of some digital tools may require additional skills and financial means that are out of the reach for many non-profit organisations.
Luckily, there are plenty digital tools which remain free and easy to navigate.
We would like to present you some ideas of digital tools that are particularly suitable for charities (but not only) and can be quite easily implemented.
The usage of these tools will help you:
Better understand your target audience and thus, give you ideas about new content;
Easily and rapidly createquality visual aids for your publications;
Save time and become more efficient in the management of your social media presence (without having to spend a fortune on it);
Manage your projects online and cooperate on your content creation (while using a powerful, visual and free platform).
We have selected some of free Internet tools (or freemium) or those that require a slight investment, by means of which it is possible to engage in as many collaborators as possible.
1. Answer The Public
Answer the Public is a tool, which permits to make a research of key words on the basis of a compilation of search expressions entered on Google. It is great tool; however, you may need more information.
In order to be effective, digital marketing should reach the right target with a right message. Google research offers tones of information to answer the questions people often ask themselves.
In order to come up with ideas of effective communication, it is enough to monitor questions people ask themselves about your domain of interest (sector) and bring them useful answers. There exists a particularly successful tool which helps ‘read people’s mind’, and it is called ‘Answer the Public’. This website allows you to discover lists of questions retrieved from Google research according to the topic you have chosen. For example, let’s imagine that you’re doing a Google search on ‘make a donation to a non-profit organisation’ (with target location Belgium).
This is what you get:
On the basis of the search results, you see that you could create content which answers to such targeted questions as:
How to make a donation anonymously
Make a donation to a non-profit organisation supporting sports cause
Donation and tax benefit
2. Canva : create quality visuals for your non-profit organization
Canva is an online platform which allows you to produce easily all kinds of graphic content.
Even if you are a beginner or need more practice at layout, you can still create very professional-looking visuals by modifying one from a bunch of recommended templates.
The only thing you need to do is to choose a background that you like and adjust it with your own logo, your font, your message etc.
Canva enables the creation of simple graphic content such as web banners or social media posts.
But you can also use Canva to produce more sophisticated content like animated posts, short videos, slides, ebooks, etc.
If you are running out of ideas for fundraising, charity event, awareness campaign (or any other action), don’t hesitate to check out Canva website to find a great number of inspiring templates.
Here is the overview of the platform:
OneUp is an application that helps you manage the presence of your charity organization on social media.
Developing the presence of your organization on social media can be truly time-consuming. It is especially true if you have several social media accounts.
Considering the work it requires to publish posts, some charity organizations prefer to have profils on a limited number of social networks (or sometimes they neglect ones in order to be more active on another one).
The good news is that there exist programmes, which are simple to use, and which give you an opportunity to:
Publish the same message on different types of social media at the same time
Program to send different posts at a different time (which allows to publish a lot of posts at one time or to publish the same post several times).
The most popular computer programs are Buffer and Hootsuite.
However, these applications can easily become very expensive (especially if there are several members of your team that are using it).
If you are looking for a low-priced solution to manage the presence of your association on social media, consider OneUp:
OneUp allows you to publish on:
Google My Business
OneUp is simple to use;
One is one of the most low-cost solutions, with 12 dollars subscription plan (for an unlimited number of users) Free 7-days trial is offered;
Integration with Canva graphics software;
Opportunity to publish directly on Instagram;
Opportunity to upload posts via CSV file (very useful, especially when you have a big number of posts to make);
4. Notion: a platform to improve organization process and collaborate with others
Create content and manage marketing campaigns require good organization and ability to collaborate with different people (who may be your colleagues or external partners). Perhaps you share documents on Google Drive, Dropbox or OneDrive already.
Perhaps you ask yourself if a list of volunteers is being updated? You are probably trying to find nice visuals to promote an event?
Like many other, you realize that sometimes it is hard to find files among a pile of documents that have been shared?
This is where Notion becomes useful. It is a convenient and dynamic platform thatcanbeusedto manage various projects online:
Lists of volunteers, donors etc;
Lists used to manage projects and tasks;
You can create your own projects or start from an existing template:
Notion is easy to handle;
Notion is like a Swiss knife that allows you to do without high-priced and complicated programs (like CRM);
Notion can be connected to other platforms such as Gmail, GoogleDoc, Salesforce, InVision etc.
5. Wave. Video : a tool to create videos in all formats suitable for social networks
You know well that video format works well on social media networks. However, making video scan easily become expensive or require extensive knowledge of video editing. Nevertheless, almost everybody can produce videos of good quality by using programs which help you adapt existing templates.
Wave.Video is a program, which is relatively easy to handle. It offers a special deal, which consists in opportunity to create 5 videos/a month (it’s already very good for a small or a medium non-profit organization).
There you will find a great number of video templates that can be adjusted according to your needs.
To customize your videos, it is enough to adapt your text and add some pictures (or choose pictures that are available in the database of Wave).
Wave allows you to store your videos online;
There exists an opportunity to collaborate with others to create a video;
You can duplicate videos (to create new versions);
There is an option to add subtitles to your videos;
This year, we celedrate International Women’s Day with a global campaign #ChooseToChallenge.
This campaign reminds us that all together, and each of us, individually, we are responsible for our actions and our behaviour. Each individual has the responsability to question and challenge him(her)self the way we tend to build in the world of tomorrow. By making an effort, each of us, we have an opportunity to create a more inclusive place to live in.
Being an important participant in social integration, United Fund for Belgium has supported several charities which tend to help women facing difficult situations. We are very proud of it and we would like to present to you three of them.
Le Tournesol asbl is a non-profit organisation that takes care of women (with their children) who have experienced marital violence and who have found themselves in difficult situation, and who need psychological support as well as financial aid.
Le Souffle de Vie asbl is another non-profit organisation which accompanies pregnant women in the long term so they can make a decision about their pregnancy, and also, offers financial, legal, relational and medical help depending on their needs.
Vie Féminine Couvin asbl helps and represents women in difficulty. This non-profit organisation puts forward such values as solidarity, equal opportunity and social integration of all women without exception.
International Women’s Day reminds us of a long way that women worldwide have had to go through in the society and in the workplace, while non-profit organisations make us understand the scope of persisting inequalities. Men and women are different, mais each part plays a vital role in completing the puzzle.
In this symbolic day, let’s remain supportive with our associations, think equally and help United Fund for Belgium continue to support their principal mission.
There is no more beautiful way of assisting women to take an active part in building the world of tomorrow than involving them in the society from today.
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.
In the article below, the Brussels authorDaniel Soil, reports on the inequality faced by each child. UFB supports actions to fight this poverty. And in order to bounce back, you probably need to be given a significant boost. This is what United Fund for Belgium is all about.
What can we do without ?
Give up school trips ? Holidays ? Do not buy new clothes? Shoes? Bedding? Eliminate meat from the diet, decrease the intake of fruits and vegetables? (The food packages exist, but they are not enough, they are not adapted to real meals, there is always a lot of one thing and not enough of another thing that is needed).
Limited leisure in front of the TV ? Turn down the heating? Forget about school supplies ? Depravation from games, stop inviting friends ? Cut down the internet ? Move: go to a smaller home ?
Each person suffering from poverty makes their own choices.
Fall into poverty, in one go or little by little. Seeing reserves slowly disappear and ending up with almost nothing. Less than a thousand. Less than a hundred. It is good to listen to the precarious to understand and imagine their difficulties. To put oneself in the place of. Establish a short circuit between yourself and the person. And therefore, we think about helping.
To experience what life must be like when family allowance is used for mere survival. And that in case of divorce, it is transferred from one parent to the other. And therefore, we think about helping.
And then there’s all that paperwork to fill in! Every application is the subject of a document: open a file, produce a deed, a certificate. This is not self-evident, nor it is easy. Precariousness leads to a loss of reference points. And the unfortunate fact is that public services do not always adapt to the events of the disadvantaged and the less fortunate.
Living in the too little of everything gives a specific view of the world. You shrivel up, you become smaller. Poverty leads to a lack of confidence. Some people give up accessible aid, such as secondary school study grants, for fear of being overwhelmed by the procedures. Precariousness and poverty generate silence.
And let us not confuse a voluntarily simple choice of life with an obligatory, imposed deprivation.
But living in poverty also means practicing intelligence full time, in order to get by, in order to survive! It develops. Cela forme. It trains. The lucky ones do not have a monopoly on foresight. The poor do not necessarily need to be educated. They know. But they need a sensitive impulse, they need to be heard and seen. .
This is what the associations and projects supported by United Fund for Belgiumstrive for with all their heart.. Take a minute and think about it.
Daniel Soil, Public writer, Honorary Diplomat Wallonia-Brussels.
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