Foundation Helps Local Charities Weather a Not For Profit Sector Storm

Foundation Helps Local Charities Weather a Not For Profit Sector Storm
  • Hawke’s Bay charities attend recent HBF Round Tables.  Foundation Deputy Chair Sarah Mulcahy (far right) says “I’ve never seen a greater need for funders like us, than right now.”

Hawke’s Bay Foundation is heeding the call from local charities and community groups for more funding as they battle unprecedented rising operating costs, skills shortages, a drop in volunteers and an overwhelming demand on child and family services.

Two years of challenging Covid conditions and stiffening economic headwinds has seen a marked increase in charities requesting critical funding to sustain their work in the community, and it is regional funders like Hawke’s Bay Foundation who are buffering the breach.

At a recent series of Round Tables, 48 charitable groups met collectively to share the year’s challenges and successes along with how recent Hawke’s Bay Foundation funding has helped sustain their operations.

According to Hawke’s Bay Foundation Distributions Chair Sarah Mulcahy some concerning trends are beginning to emerge.

“Societal pressures of the past few years are now wide-reaching. Covid coupled with a cost of living crisis is seeing a spike in the need for family and youth counseling services, drug addiction, financial and budgeting support and healthy homes assistance.

“We’re pretty unique in that we get our charities in one room around the table. Charity leaders are able to collaborate and make key connections they wouldn’t ordinarily make, helping drive efficiencies but most of all, reinvigorating that face-to-face social connection.

“I’ve been involved in the grants sector for many years and across the board, I’ve never seen a greater need for funders like us, than right now.

Since its inception ten years ago, Hawke’s Bay Foundation has gifted $2.29M to 303 local charities – last year granting $177,000 to 53 local charities. As a non-profit community foundation, grants to sustain the work of local charities and community groups in perpetuity increase from year to year. It is forecast this year up to $250,000 will be distributed, with that figure set to climb as the fund grows.

A recent report by consultancy Grant Thornton into the not-for-profit sector warns many will soon be at breaking point, as they grapple with legislative changes, financing their organisations and attracting and retaining staff. Sentiments shared by Birthright Hawke’s Bay Child and Family Care who last year provided a range of programmes and support to over 3 thousand individuals and family groups.

“Like many other organisations, our costs are constantly increasing, and we have been struggling to attract sufficient staff due to a chronic shortage of trained and certified staff across the country,” says chief executive Andy Pilbrow.

“The Covid pandemic placed additional pressure on Birthright Hawke’s Bay staff and managers as they quickly developed systems and process to ensure they could continue to provide support for individuals, families, and whanau in a safe way.

“Hawkes Bay Foundation has assisted us to provide external supervision for our staff to ensure they can continue to work effectively and safely during these challenging times. Without the support of Hawkes Bay Foundation, we simply couldn’t do what we do.”

Hawke’s Bay Foundation funding has also enabled Napier Family Centre to recently employ a fulltime male counselor to assist with an increase in youth and adolescent support work. As an organisation with a list of growing services and clients across all of Hawke’s Bay, general manager Kerry Henderson says sustaining their work is a constant struggle.

“We have to fundraise around $350 thousand each year to fill our funding deficit but we do it because we’re passionate about supporting our community who need us now more than ever. Last year alone we delivered almost 2,000 youth counseling sessions.

“I truly believe we’re making a big difference in the community, with support from Hawke’s Bay Foundation we’re able to provide more child youth counseling. When families are struggling to put food on the table, we can offer these vital services for free.”

From groups such as Christian Lovelink who last year saw a 40 percent spike in demand for household items from families in need, to ‘waste warriors’ Nourished for Nil to Raukatauri Music Therapy and Riding for the Disabled, Hawke’s Bay Foundation’s funding reach is expansive. A once vibrant arts and culture scene is set to rise again with the return of the hotly anticipated Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival in October, also funded by Hawke’s Bay Foundation.

Festival Director Pitsch Leiser is excited to bring the community back together.

“We have a fantastic lineup with ‘The Cunning Little Vixen’ by Festival Opera at Toitoi, free family shows with Okareka Dance Company’s ‘Mana Wahine’ at the Napier Municipal Theatre and  ‘Dream Garden’ Aerial Circus alongside  Gerry Paul’s ‘Hank the Wrestling Shark’ for families at Toitoi.

“With forced cancellations in 2021, Hawke’s Bay Foundation continued to  support us  when we’ve sometimes wondered how we can carry on.  For locals who want to support the region’s arts and culture, a targetted donation made through the Foundation really does help.”

Despite the forecast turbulence, Sarah Mulcahy remains optimistic about the charitable sector’s future.

“Building healthy, thriving and resilient communities across Hawke’s Bay through reliable long-term funding streams is central to the mission of Hawke’s Bay Foundation, but we need the public to get behind it.

“Regardless of the challenges we face, I’m encouraged by the sense of community out there and strongly believe that if we all pitch in, our donors will generate better outcomes for Hawke’s Bay.”