Editorial: The season of goodwill?

Last Updated on Friday, 18 December, 2020 at 1:06 pm by Andre Camilleri

Many charities depend upon their Christmas campaigns for an end of year fundraising boost – but with the pandemic showing no signs of slowing down, will 2020 be the season of goodwill? Christmas is coming, and the goose (like many of us behind closed doors), is steadily getting fat – but as the adage goes, will anyone be up for putting a penny in the old man’s hat?

Well, for one thing, is for sure, the old man is unlikely to be there. Socially distanced street fundraising throws up a plethora of challenges, and many elderly volunteers will be particularly vulnerable to the virus that has wreaked havoc on the charity sector, are understandably staying well away.

This year has been an incredibly tough one for fundraising thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. With countless events and street fundraising drives cancelled, and many charity shops with shutters down, the amount of money the sector could lose out on creeps up with every passing week.  Almost half of charities expect to have lost up to 75% of their income or funding by the end of 2020, according to a survey conducted in August by The Wheel – which represents many charities and community and voluntary groups.

These organisations are run by kind-hearted individuals who dedicate a great deal of their time and energy to helping others. Such entities include, but are not limited to, food banks, animal well-being, shelters for domestic violence victims, orphanages, or homeless persons, Caritas, Inspire and id-Dar tal-Providenza. Most require donations to stay up and running and, as has been pointed out by some of these organisations, contributions are not flowing in at the same rate they were previously.

It’s been an extraordinary year, and we will need to see exceptional campaigns. However, this double-edged sword means outstanding campaigns cost money; there’s just no easy way out of this conundrum. Charities are slowly fading into the ether and must be top of any 2021 support agenda. One could readily argue if enough is being done.

We do know, Christmas is often viewed as a time to come together, so perhaps that should also mean charities join forces, particularly when they are facing similar challenges. In previous years Malta has frequently topped European charts when it comes to charitable giving and generosity. However, the period where people are suffering need help the most would be now, and this is the time when the Maltese can truly show just how generous and caring we are. As such, this could be a vital opportunity to get together and create real change – if charities can rally together and collaborate in time.

Thanks to Covid-19, many charitable organisations we have seen locally are faced with greater demand for their services, but less in donations as people have less to give. In Malta, the ultimate annual event of giving is l-Istrina, by the Community Chest Fund, which falls on Boxing Day. However, monetary giving is not the only form of giving. On Boxing Day, we often find ourselves with an abundance of left-over food and unwanted gifts. Why not give them to a a worthy local cause? Now, more than ever, it’s essential to make sure that your contribution, whether that’s time or money or any other form of support – will be used exceptionally wisely and well.

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