Fri, 29th January, 2021
2020, An exacting year for the Association of Jersey Charities
2020 – An exacting year for the Association of Jersey Charities
How the year 2020 is looked back upon will undoubtedly be dominated by the arrival in early March of Covid-19, a pandemic which brought Jersey almost to a standstill and which has decimated the income and activities of a large proportion of the Association of Jersey Charities’ (AJC) member charities.
At the year’s end, although the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ – mass vaccination – is becoming a reality, it is not unlikely that the impact will be diminished for some months before a point is reached when a reasonable observer or commentator will be able to say that Jersey has returned to a pre-Covid normality. Indeed, it is quite possible, of course, that what has been understood as normality pre-Covid will never return.
Unlike most other local charities, the AJC does not, as a matter of course, rely on events, legacies or elaborate fundraisers to acquire funds. Since its formation 50 years ago (and more of that later), the AJC has been principally notable as the body whereby funds received from Jersey’s profits from the Channel Islands Lotteries have been granted to Island charities following objective and comprehensive evaluation of their need and qualification to receive such funds.
At the beginning of 2020, this particular AJC role had not been reaffirmed by resolution of the States Assembly and for most of the year the AJC relied on funds held from previous lottery profits and, having been the beneficiary of several major donations from Island organisations, was able to continue to make grants to local worthy causes.
At the end of 2020 the situation was finalised in the States Chamber that the AJC would receive 50 per cent of the profits of the Jersey 2019 Lottery profits – circa £700,000 – for distribution during 2021.
Registered charities can apply for funding from this resource. However, charities awaiting registration with the Charity Commissioner cannot apply until formally registered. Charities and other good causes that deal with the arts, heritage, culture, sport and scientific research will, in due course, be able to apply to the Jersey Community Foundation that was awarded the other 50 per cent of the Lottery profits.
Liz Le Poidevin, AJC chairman until the Annual General Meeting last September, says: “We were faced with considerable difficulties from the beginning of the year with local charities appealing for support because of cancelled events and fundraisers and we not knowing what funds we might have available to help. We were also concerned that despite our long record of objective review, applied through well-established procedures for the allocation of funds, we might not have been able to continue to help local charities survive the impact of the pandemic in the manner they required. Notwithstanding, we continued to make grants to AJC members and other local charities, making use of the funds we had available.”
A new Service Level Agreement has now been signed with the States, to receive 50 per cent of the Jersey profits from the 2019 Channel Islands Lottery.
Throughout the year the AJC, as a member of the Jersey Funders Group, has been collaborating with other charity funders to provide a single point of contact for enquiries for grants, from which the funders best placed to meet the need assessed applications.
During 2020, the AJC granted £942,836 to 43 local charities. Kevin Keen, elected chairman of the AJC in succession to Liz Le Poidevin at the September AGM, says: “There will be changes in what purposes we can grant the lottery profits for, but we welcome the fact that the States have agreed that, with its long experience and expertise in making grants to local charities and good causes, the AJC will continue to be the major resource to do so.”
The Association of Jersey Charities was formed in 1971 and is an authoritative voice of the ‘third sector’ and is the representative body of the majority of charitable organisations operating in Jersey. Its 299 members represent a wide and diverse section of Island life and range from large organisations providing essential services to smaller organisations representing the needs and concerns of particular groups within Jersey.
The Association’s objectives are to encourage and facilitate charitable and community work in Jersey; to encourage co-operation and co-ordination of activities between members, prospective members and the charitable community as a whole; to administer the distribution of funds to local charities and good causes, principally made available as a result of funding from the Jersey share of the Channel Islands’ Lottery’s profits; to develop and administer programmes of education, training and information to benefit charitable bodies and, as and when appropriate, to assist and represent its members, both individually and as a whole.
“The establishment of the Association in 1971 stemmed from a need acknowledged across all sectors in Jersey to recognise the growing importance of charitable bodies as an active element in society, fulfilling needs either not being met or capable of being met by government but also of a requirement for such bodies to speak with a united voice, particularly in dealings with government,” says Kevin Keen. “In the years before the establishment of a Jersey Charities Commission, the Association laid down a series of protocols covering the manner in which charities should operate and applied such protocols to its members.”
While AJC did not have the authority of the Commission, its rules of membership, based on practices common elsewhere, ensured that its members complied, so that the public benefit was consistently served and membership of the AJC was recognised as a mark of probity and integrity.
The AJC is managed by a committee, all volunteers and each with a particular role suited to their skills and background, supported by a professional administrator. It is hoped to strengthen this committee by the appointment of someone with either fundraising or training experience.
With its funding largely addressed by the recent States decision regarding Lottery profits, the AJC will maintain its practice of making grants to local charities and good causes.
As the AJC seeks to support the charity sector in numerous ways, one notable venture in this most difficult of years was to set up the Charity Booster Appeal, in tandem with the Government’s fiscal stimulus initiative of SpendLocal, with prepaid cards being issued to every Jersey resident. The Booster appeal encourages the people of Jersey who can afford it to benefit local businesses but also pay the benefits forward by making a donation to the charity sector, to be distributed by the AJC.
Another important activity is the regular information email to members and others. During the year this proved to be an important line of communication between Government (particularly the Covid Hub) and the sector.
In the wake of the impact of the pandemic during 2020, the AJC is also refining its training programme for 2021, designed to help local charities and other bodies to re-establish themselves. These training courses, which are free to members, will include such vital topics as fundraising, trustee responsibilities, constitutional affairs, accounting and reporting. It is hoped that in due course these training exercises will be physical events but if Covid restrictions prevent such activities, even in the short term, preparations are under way to create virtual sessions and make wide use of mainstream and social media.
“The establishment of the Jersey Charities Commission has, rightly, ensured that charities are founded on the basis of good governance for the public benefit,” says Kevin Keen. “While these objectives now have the force of legislation behind them, for 50 years the AJC has sought to fulfil a similar role and during the course of 2021 we intend to commemorate this important anniversary to demonstrate that, alongside the Commission, the need for such a body as the AJC is probably even more imperative today than it was at its foundation.”