Funding: One of Many Challenges

Funding is always a problem with nonprofit organizations- from finding sufficient funding and coordinating funding allocations with the government, to the lag time between proposal acceptance and the actual handover of funds.

One of the greatest issues that Caribbean nonprofit organizations face, particularly in Guyana, where many organizations focus on rehabilitating children from broken families, is the lack of oversight enforced when allocating funding.

Donor agencies awarded 104 million USD for supplies alone to various nonprofit organizations and 699 million Guyanese dollars for the stipends of the nonprofit workers implementing community programs in Guyana.  Guyana’s various Ministries are in charge of ensuring that the programs for which these funds are intended are executed sufficiently.  Many NGO’s have not received the funds given through this funding stream since 2009, and have since struggled to meet the demands of assisting those in crisis situations across Guyana.

The Ministries have taken the task of providing aid to Guyana’s underprivileged into their own hands, allocating the funds to its internal sources.  The government justifies this decision by claiming that nonprofits lack the oversight needed to ensure that they will use the funds correctly, and that the Ministry is better-equipped to do so.

A representative who wishes to remain anonymous from a prominent NGO doesn’t believe this explanation. “Maybe a few organizations misused it in the past, but it’s not fair for all of us to suffer… they think they can do it all through the government workforce, but the workforce isn’t capable of doing all the work…what’s really needed is cooperation between nonprofits and the government, but they won’t allow that.”

Dawn Stewart (founder and CEO of CPIC) agrees, stating that funding needs to be given to NGOs so they can effectively carry out community projects.

Just what capabilities are needed, then, to complete this work?  According to Stewart, there is much more emotional support- an aspect that is not culturally understood by many- that needs to be implemented with each case in addition to  the routine tasks completed by Social Services.  Additional counseling to victims of domestic and sexual violence is needed in order to ensure that citizens, especially youth, make good choices after experiencing major trauma within the family.  Alcoholism, domestic abuse, and sexual assault are phenomena that are all too familiar to a country where most of its citizens worry about putting food on their table every week.

“There’s a culture of acceptance [of organizations and agencies not being held responsible] that’s harming the family life here,” Stewart explains.  Over time, individuals accept that the government can only help so much (or not at all) by documenting cases and simply telling- rather than assisting- affected families to move on after tragedy strikes.  In turn, the budget of money that Ministries receive from donor agencies- which is supposedly given to aid nongovernmental projects- has no measurable oversight whatsoever, from any governing body.  When the governing body itself lacks regulation for the spending of huge sums of international aid money, the problem of broken families and affected teens will not only inevitably result, but re-perpetuate itself.

As other employees leave organizations due to diminishing employee stipends, I spoke to one organization’s representative (who also chooses to remain anonymous) in her hot, tiny office- a downgrade from the office the organization once afforded in the early 2000s. “Sometimes I worry about bills being met; putting my daughter through school as her needs only increase with her age.  But then I remember… if we all just leave these children, then who will help them?”

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