‘Fears’ for Jersey charities as donations drop by a third


ISLANDERS are being urged to support charities after a steep drop in donations – or risk their services being picked up by the government at a “significantly” higher cost to the taxpayer.

Donations made to Jersey charities plummeted by 33% from £16.8 million in 2021 to £11.2 million last year, according to a recent freedom of information request.

Association of Jersey Charities chair Kevin Keen said that the drop confirmed his “worst fears” about the difficulties charities were facing.

Meanwhile, the chair of a homelessness charity said he was in discussions with the government to source, for the first time, other streams of funding, as donations and reserves dry up.

Speaking to the JEP, Mr Keen said the fall in donations revealed by recent figures was due to continuing high inflation and the cost-of-living crisis.

“People who usually donate are struggling financially and as a result they are cutting back on their donations,” he said.

“For some of the younger charities, which don’t have much in the way of reserves, this could be an existential threat.”

Mr Keen continued: “Ultimately, the consequence is that charities may not be able to provide the services we need, and that falls to government, who won’t be able to provide them at the cost charities can.

“They don’t have volunteers or donations and they have bigger cost structures than these charities. If the taxpayer picks it up, it will be much more expensive.

“We’ve all got a part to play. We tend always to look to someone else, but there’s always something we can do ourselves to support charities, even if it’s something small.

“Each one of us will almost certainly know someone who has been helped by a local charity at a difficult point in their lives. Now really is the time to support them by making a donation of any amount, or even volunteering your time.”

On whether the downward trend would continue, Mr Keen said: “I suspect we haven’t seen the last of it, not until interest rates come down. This year will be difficult for Jersey charities.”

Last December, an AJC survey found that more than half of members had seen an increase in demand for their services, with some scaling back activities and dipping into reserves to cope with rising pressures.

Sanctuary Trust chair Tim Ringsdore said yesterday that the homelessness charity had seen a downturn in donations which had “significantly impacted” its income.

He continued: “We have had to look at other, more innovate ways of raising funds, which can be difficult when there are lots of events put on by a number of different charities.

“We’ve had to dip significantly into our reserves, which are being depleted on a monthly basis now, and the trustees are having to do lots more voluntary work to keep the charity afloat.”

Mr Ringsdore continued: “If Sanctuary Trust wasn’t around, then the government would potentially have to pick up the support that we provide the community and it would be at a significantly higher cost than we’re able to do it.

“We’re in discussion with government to find some more support for us, but we are determined to keep going and maintain the good quality of service for our residents.”

Brighter Futures chief executive Fiona Brennan said the fall in donations was unsurprising and due to the after-effects of Covid and the “extortionate cost of living” in Jersey.

Ms Brennan added that it was a “huge challenge” to raise the annual costs to continue to run their services, which support between 150 to 170 families a week.

She said the cost of supporting one family for a year is now £6,600, a rise from £4,400 in 2022.

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