Officials at one of the island’s most prominent charities are undeterred by the prospect of greater oversight and surveillance from Government, announced last Friday by Attorney General, Dale Marshall.
In fact, longtime spokesperson for the local arm of the Salvation Army, Major Denzil Walcott revealed that the charity was much more concerned with a falloff in donations for the organisation’s Christmas appeal as demands for charitable services increase.
Major Walcott, who now serves as a volunteer consultant to the Salvation Army after many years as public relations officer, told Barbados TODAY that unlike some other charities, the Salvation Army spends no more than ten per cent of its revenue on operational costs. As such, he sees no reason why the organisation would have a problem complying with Government’s demands to disclose their sources of income as well as their regional and international links.
“It doesn’t bother the Salvation Army. We have very strict regulations within our organisation. We don’t spend any more than ten per cent of our money in paying salaries and we try as much as possible to give at least 50 per cent of what we raise to the immediate programmes that we are doing,” Walcott disclosed.
“The rest of the money goes to our programmes for the next year and we try to do that as much as possible. We are not fearful of any restrictions being placed on organisations because we have our own restrictions already and we think that we will fall in line,” he said.
Describing charitable organisations as “high-risk vehicles for money laundering and financing terrorism”, Attorney General Dale Marshall declared that unless certain “basic minimum standards” are met, the country risks being blacklisted by international organisations or jeopardising critical correspondent banking links.
Meanwhile, the Salvation Army is pleading with locals to use a portion of their increased income from back payments, Christmas bonuses and even recent reverse tax credits from government to help offset the increased demand for charitable assistance.
So great is the need, Major Walcott disclosed the charity would be increasing its own vigilance to ensure proceeds go to those who need them most.
“Based on what I am hearing, there are a lot more people coming to us, but we can do so much and no more, so some people will be turned away, that is definite,” said Major Walcott.
“We are also doing assessments of people who we have suspicions about. We will go to their homes and do interviews with them to be sure they are really in need, because we would like to make sure we meet the needs of the neediest persons during this Christmas time.”
While expressing optimism that the organisation would “smash” its $7,000 collection target he added: “When we launched the Christmas appeal on November 8, the response was very good and then it tapered off. Things have started to pick up again and we are expecting now that the Christmas letters have been sent to people across Barbados, there will be a greater response. We also expect that after the 15th of December when people get their back pay, bonuses and all of that, it will improve a lot.”