Dear Supporters and Friends,
In this edition we bring you news of:
- how we’ve further improved our hugely successful Christmas events
- latest progress with the Balay Children’s Village
- further increases in the number of children attending school and how we are now also helping their parents become self sufficient
- our 2018 financial performance
- our plans for further sustainable development and expansion
But first a reminder ….
that even before the formal establishment of Balay, the underlying principle adopted by the trustees was to ‘help those who help themselves’. This principle stays with us to this day and we see its relevance in the communities we support daily. We find that many of the poorest children in the Philippines are eager to work hard at school so that they can eventually provide for their wider families and community. Without your continued support they simply wouldn’t be given the chance of an education, instead being destined to a life of child labor leading to an inevitable future of poverty and potential crime. The baby steps we have taken together since forming Balay are now allowing an increasing number of children each year to take control of their own lives by making the most of their new-found gift of education. Please keep supporting us with this important initiative. Remember, through our #BeAChildsBetterFutureBuilder program, on average it takes just US$150 a year to take a child out of full-time labor and send them to school. That’s US$150 to put a young life back on track. And you’ll see in our financial update that once again, we managed to keep our overhead costs down to just 2% in 2018, meaning 98% of your donations are used to directly support disadvantaged children.
Improving our Christmas Events
One of our goals is to bring joy, development and learning to the children of poor communities by sponsoring special events. In recent years we have expanded the program to include the sponsorship of Summer Sports Events as well as the annual Balay Christmas Party. Last year, we again ran the Christmas Event in partnership with our partner NGO, CAJDEN. Their focus on self-empowerment and social transformation allowed us to use the Christmas Events as platforms to increase awareness of livelihood improvement programs available to parents from poor families, some of which are financially supported by the Government’s Department of Labour & Employment. This was a great success. Also, based upon observations in previous years, we also changed the way we provided food to families at our Christmas Events. It cost more, but we gave each family a ‘Christmas Meal Pack’ allowing them to cook and enjoy a Christmas meal at home with their family. Thank you all for your extra financial and in kind support with this – the 260 families really appreciated it.
Balay Children’s Village
Our primary goal, and the main reason we set up Balay in 2013, is to provide and operate family-styled homes for children who have lost parental support through being orphaned, abandoned or abused. It is fair to say that although we’ve made great progress with purchase of land, obtaining planning permission, completion of designs and early construction, we are not as advanced with building of the homes as we would have hoped at this time. The reason for the delay is simple – lack of funds! Constructing houses, even simple ones, is an expensive business.
To address this, we have this year therefore turned our attention to increasing our fundraising efforts. Because of the large sums required, it is really important that we seek funding from the Filipino corporate community. Many companies seem willing to support us as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programs, but donations from corporations in the Philippines are only tax-deductible if the receiving foundation has been awarded official ‘Donee Status’. Achieving ‘Donee Status’ is a very difficult process requiring us to manoeuvre our way through a number of complex legal and bureaucratic steps, but thanks to the tireless contributions of our volunteers and trustees, we are making good progress, even though there’s been some huge frustrations and setbacks along the way! At the moment, an application is lodged with BIR in Manila and we are awaiting feedback before entering the final stage of the application for ‘Donee Status’. Wish us luck! Hopefully, our next newsletter will contain more positive news.
Update on #BeAChildsBetterFutureBuilder
Our goal is to help provide full time education for children from severely disadvantaged families so that they might have a chance at a better future. Over time, what was once intended to be a simple educational assistance program has evolved into our #BeAChildsBetterFutureBuilder program. Undertaken jointly with CAJDEN, the program has 3 objectives:
- to provide educational assistance for poor children at risk of dropping out of school and children who are returning to school after a period dropped out
- to assist poor children’s parents by introducing and supporting a gainful livelihood program to provide food security to families
- to promote children’s rights and develop responsibility, leadership and God-centered values amongst children.
We are now in our third year, and we continue to be amazed by the positive impact and hope given to child beneficiaries and their families. As well as attending school, the children have also taken part in extra-curricular workshops involving art, music, dance and play-acting aimed at increasing awareness of child rights and various forms of exploitation. We have witnessed children grow in confidence to take up active roles in their communities by leading youth organizations; helping to facilitate livelihood project meetings for parents; organizing sports festivals and leading community prayers.
Thanks to CAJDEN’s partnership with the Department of Labor & Employment (DOLE), our parallel livelihood program for parents are also gaining strength with the Government now stepping in to provide additional support to one of them through DOLE’s ‘Kabuhayan’ livelihood promotion program.Some parents have now received dividends from their rice retailing business started in 2017!
A million thanks to CAJDEN, who provide many of the inputs on the ground within poor communities. Ours is a great partnership indeed.
2018 Financial Update
From the outset, we promised our supporters that we would be different to most mainstream charities by always striving to keep overhead and management costs to an absolute minimum. We do this by not employing anyone (we will have to employ of course in the future but only when it is absolutely necessary), and ensuring that all trustees and volunteers give their time free of charge. We also never charge expenses to Balay. The charts below show that during 2018:
- we kept unavoidable overheads down to 2% during 2018
- we raised a total of US$23,278 through donations and interest
- we spent US$32,090, with most of this going towards the Balay Children’s Village
- our total assets at the end of the year were valued at US$56,442.
Plans for Further Sustainable Growth and Expansion
As part of the process of obtaining official ‘Donee Status’, we have had to make several government-requested changes to our original Articles of Association and supporting Operating Procedures. The major change is that we are required to grow our Board of Trustees to around fifteen from its current size of five. However, we are only allowed to appoint new trustees who:
- bring appropriate skills, experience or other benefits to Balay in pursuance of our objectives
- are willing and able to provide time and energy to further Balay’s objectives.
We are therefore in need of generous individuals who would be willing to join our board as trustees and to get actively involved in the running of the organization and its programs. Typically, you’d need to be able to commit to at least 5 hours input each week. It goes without saying that all trustee volunteers must be willing to give their time free of charge to Balay and shoulder any incidental expenses themselves. In the Philippines we have a particular need for trustees with skills and experience in child social work, child rights and exploitation, education, vocational training and careers advice, child nutrition and wellbeing, development & construction, solar and wind power, water purification, landscaping and small-scale farming, local bookkeeping and accountancy practices, local corporate fundraising, local community fundraising, communications and social media, NGO co-ordination, government office co-ordination, legal advice and management of children’s homes (or similar). We are also able to appoint a limited number of non-Filipino trustees interested in supporting us with international fundraising.
If you have the energy, time, skills and experience to join us as a trustee, we’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to express your interest to any of the existing trustees or by email to email@example.com. Please feel free to pass this newsletter onto anyone who you think may be interested in joining Balay.
Thank you as always for your support.