Belfast Telegraph

Philanthropy Fortnight is all about looking at ways to make fundraising more strategic

By Sandara Kelso-Robb

Vital services to some of Northern Ireland's most disadvantaged communities are seriously under threat as the effects of austerity begin to bite.

Our community and voluntary sector is suffering from the cuts, producing a greater need for strategic giving from private companies, wealthy individuals and the general public.

With so many charities and voluntary organisations under severe financial strain, I would like to highlight the aims of Philanthropy Fortnight, Northern Ireland's annual celebration of charitable giving.

The two-week showcase, from April 18-29, recognises the generosity, time, commitment and support that thousands of Northern Ireland people give every day to so many good causes.

This is our fourth Philanthropy Fortnight, but our most important to date. We, as fundraisers, see at first-hand the damaging effects of austerity being rolled out to some of our most vulnerable communities.

Philanthropy Fortnight is all about looking at ways to make fundraising more strategic and more focused so we achieve tangible benefits for society. This year we have set our sights on looking at practical ways to ensure that important community-based projects are not lost forever.

As a society we need to ensure our young people follow our proud tradition of charitable giving. Recently I launched my own foundation - Hope For More - to inspire children to build a better society. By starting young these future donors will learn about the needs of society and how they can make a modest contribution. It's about understanding the building blocks - the "who, what, why, when and where" of giving.

I feel passionately that you can really make a difference to society if you focus on the children.

Starting a foundation needn't involve huge amounts of money, but by taking a strategic approach and investing in good projects I hope to see a really positive return. During difficult times we all need to think about how we can come together and help others.

Sandara Kelso-Robb is strategic adviser to Giving Northern Ireland. For the full Philanthropy Fortnight programme, go to:

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