Twenty-three charities have shared in $2 million in AMP Foundation COVID-19 Community Boost grants to help them support Australians through these challenging times.
The organisations’ work spans employment, education, domestic violence, homelessness, mental health and disability support services, with a large proportion using their funding for vital salaries and technology. The grant recipients were selected from more than 700 non-profit applicants, which collectively requested almost $79 million.
The overwhelming response to the grants program provided insights into the serious issues currently affecting the non-profit sector that will have long-term effects, not only on their operations and staffing, but on their ability to provide services to the most disadvantaged in our community.
Helen Liondos, Head of the AMP Foundation said, “Many charities are experiencing the challenge of supporting Australians through a period of enormous economic and social disruption while also dealing with substantial losses of income from fundraising events that have been cancelled. At the same time, charities are trying to meet increased demand on their services, as well as having to work through new service delivery solutions that need to be delivered online.”
“The pandemic highlighted the underinvestment in technology by the non-profit sector – both software and IT infrastructure – has now hit critical levels and is impacting on all facets of their operations – from service delivery and fundraising, to being able to offer flexible working conditions to their employees and community engagement,” said Ms Liondos.
“We also observed that charities relying on income from event-based fundraising have seen an average of 50% decline in their income levels, with some reporting income losses of up to 80%.
“Charities that run social enterprises have also seen substantial losses in their income, especially those that run hospitality or retail social enterprises. Those charities with a high reliance on volunteers, were most likely to seek salary support to backfill roles performed by these volunteers.”
Two of the AMP Foundation grant recipients include:
Mental Health Legal Centre (MHLC)
MHLC supports people with complex problems - including those experiencing homelessness and significant physical and mental health issues. It provides holistic support – incorporating legal, social work and financial counselling – to people of all ages living on the streets, in crisis or unstable accommodation, and accessing food programs.
The charity has been overwhelmed since the pandemic hit, seeing dozens of new clients every month entering homelessness and dealing with evictions, hardship and relationship breakdown.
MHLC will use its AMP Foundation grant to employ a financial counsellor to help clients impacted by the pandemic, including those who have lost their accommodation and are unable to find another place to stay. The funding will also support a financial counsellor intern as well as a part-time social worker who will support clients to access tele-health and other community services.
“Our clients don’t come to us with nice neat legal problems… they come to us with problems that are caused by their lives unravelling,” said MHLC General Manager Charlotte Jones. “These are people have been struggling and now COVID has made things harder.”
Good360 Australia is a charity that matches brand-new goods donated by businesses to more than 2,000 non-profits and disadvantaged schools that distribute the goods to Australians in need. It reports that demand for non-food goods increased by 1056% in April against the same period in 2019. This need, plus a drop-in volunteers, put a strain on staffing - in particular the warehouse team.
Good360 will use its AMP Foundation grant to increase the warehousing team’s hours to meet the strong demand, and continue to remove shipping and handling costs for smaller charities and schools that can no longer afford to pay.
“COVID has resulted in a rise in demand for goods, but businesses have stepped up and are still donating goods,” said Founder and Managing Director Alison Covington.
“Our warehouse employees love working in a job where they can pay it forward – from packing clothes to go to women in domestic violence shelters or notebooks for school students, even the smallest things can make a huge difference when times are tough. Very often the people in these situations feel forgotten, so receiving essential brand-new goods makes them feel they are not alone and provides hope and dignity."
View all the 23 COVID-19 Community Boost recipients here.
About the AMP Foundation
The AMP Foundation is and one of the largest independently funded corporate foundations in Australia. Since 1992, it has distributed more than $100 million to the community.
Its goal is to help create a better tomorrow for Australians, by investing in community involvement and capacity building programs and partnerships.