FIRST, it was the Covid-19 pandemic. Now the weakening of the ringgit as well as inflation are impacting donations received by non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
Most had been looking forward to brighter days after three years weathering the effects of the pandemic, but it has not turned out that way.
Johor Baru Handicapped and Mentally Disabled Children’s Association president S Murugaiyah said donations had been shrinking in recent months.
“Usually, donations come in from April to August but it has been quiet this year,” he said at the shelter in Taman Saleng Indah in Kulai.
Murugaiyah said he had expected the economy to improve when the government started reopening the country’s borders on April 1 last year.
But he said the good times only lasted about six months as the economy started showing signs of slowing down from January 2023.
“When the economy is bad, it affects charities.”
Murugaiyah said businesses, corporate bodies and individuals would either cut back on donations or put them on hold as they were also affected by slower economic growth.
He said many businesses and corporate bodies were also freezing salary increments and not expanding operations because of global economic uncertainties.
The ringgit was depreciating and prices of essential goods were on an upward trend the last few months, leaving Malaysians feeling the pinch, he added.
According to Murugaiyah, current donations to the association was about half of the amount raised during the pandemic.
“However, we are fortunate as we received a good amount during Chinese New Year,” he said, adding that this was the best time as visitors were generous with ang pow.
He said the shelter received about RM100,000 from well-wishers in 2021 while it was closed during Chinese New Year due to the movement control order.
“We received about RM300,000 in 2022. This year, we got between RM380,000 and RM400,000 from those who visited our shelter during the celebration,” he added.
Murugaiyah said the shelter needed about RM680,000 this year to carry out renovation works for leaking roof, ceilings and toilets as well as road resurfacing but they have been put on hold due to lack of funds.
“We also want to hire two special education teachers, as the centre has had no teachers for the last one year; and more nurses,” he said.
He also hoped the government would consider allowing welfare bodies to hire foreigners because locals were not keen on working as caregivers in charity organisations.
“We have about 120 children on the waiting list but we cannot take them in as we do not have enough employees nor the financial means,” added Murugaiyah.
The association currently has 48 employees, of which 12 are locals while the remaining 36 are foreigners.
It has 185 residents aged between 10 and 50, with most abandoned by their families.
The shelter receives RM60,000 from Johor government and RM350,000 in yearly grants from the Federal Government.
However, the grants can only be used for residents’ meals.
Murugaiyah hoped the Federal Government could increase this sum, considering the hike in prices of raw food items as donors had also cut down on food contributions to the shelter.
“We need between RM1.6mil and RM1.8mil yearly to provide for our residents and pay our employees,” he added, while thanking donors who had been supporting the charity for the past 33 years.
The association was founded by the late V Rajamanikam in Taman Melodies, Johor Baru in 1990 and moved to its present location in Kulai in 2002.
The organisation also runs similar homes for some 200 residents in Banting, Selangor; Bukit Baru, Melaka; Kuantan, Pahang; and Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu.
For details, call, 07-598 9676 or visit www.handicapjb.org.my
Other income streams
Johor Area Rehabilitation Organisation (Jaro) general manager Joseph Roy Arputham, meanwhile, said the body had not received donations since the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We can’t blame donors as the economy has yet to show strong growth post-pandemic,” he said.
Joseph said donors were unwilling to commit to giving donations like they did before the pandemic and if they did, the sum would be reduced.
Jaro needs RM80,000 a month to operate, which includes salaries of 45 trainees aged between 25 and 70.
Nine trainees are in basketry and rattan weaving, 15 in the sewing department while the remaining 21 have taken up book binding.
He said its adoption programme, where a donor contributed RM5,000 per trainee, had been temporarily halted since 2021 because of the pandemic.
Joseph said there were 10 Johor-based individuals and corporate bodies participating in the programme which began in 2016.
“We put it on hold as they could not commit and if they were to participate in the programme again, they are only willing to give a reduced amount,” he said.
According to Joseph, the charity also had 20 regular donors but the amount of contributions had dropped significantly compared to before the pandemic.
However, Jaro has another source of income – the sale of its products in Jaro complex along Jalan Sungai Chat, Johor Baru.
Its monthly income pre-pandemic was between RM30,000 and RM35,000 from the sale of custom-made handicrafts, bulk orders from companies and cash donations.
“We registered zero income for nine months after the movement control order was first imposed on March 18, 2020.
“Sales are slowly picking up although the amount is still low compared to before the restrictions,” he said.
Joseph is also concerned about prices of raw materials which have gone up by 30%.
The organisation receives RM40,000 in grants from the Federal Government and another RM40,000 from the state.
“We hope the federal and Johor governments can consider reviewing the yearly grants and increase the sum in Budget 2024, taking into account inflation and consider our plight,” said Joseph.
Jaro was set up in 1952 for tuberculosis patients, but later became a training centre for the physically, intellectually and visually challenged.
“We help our trainees build self-confidence and prepare them as much as we can if they are looking for a job elsewhere,” he said.
For details, call 07-224 5632.