Bryan Clover, CEO the Rainy Day Trust, discusses how crucial funding is for industry charity and where exactly people’s donations go.
How do you spend my money? Who benefits or is it just gathering dust somewhere in a bank account? I get asked those questions all the time and they deserve an honest answer.
There was a time when the Rainy Day Trust focussed solely on grant-making, either one off grants to meet an immediate need, or ongoing grants to help people over the longer term. When your washing machine breaks and you can’t afford a new one, we can replace it, but if your kids need school uniforms a few months later you still won’t be able to afford them because the underlying problem hasn’t changed; you still can’t afford them because you don’t have sufficient cash. What we do now is deliver a series of programmes of support that aim to tackle that underlying problem and help you to help yourself.
How much money you have is a double-sided coin – you either need to earn more or reduce what you routinely spend. We help people do both of those things. We can help you earn more by upskilling or re-training you. We can pay for courses or help you with CV writing, to make your application that bit better than the other guy’s. We help apprentices during their training and improve pass rates, giving them a skill for life.
To reduce your outgoings we can offer you free debt advice, which will help you re-schedule your debt making it more affordable; importantly it can help prevent bankruptcy which can have a massive impact on your future potential – try getting a mobile phone contract when you’ve been made bankrupt or have a CCJ against you. Our winter fuel package not only pays £250 direct to your energy supplier so that you can go into the winter knowing that you can turn the heating on, but it also pays for a boiler and heating system service and installs a corrosion inhibitor. This can reduce your heating bills by 10-15%.
The housing advice, free counselling and free legal advice can reduce the stress and anxiety that you may be feeling and so reduce the risk of pressures at work, so making you more ‘employable’ because you are in a better place mentally.
So what does your donation buy? £35 pays for 5 telephone counselling sessions, £50 pays for an hour’s legal advice, £80 buys the school uniform for a child, £120 a new fridge, £300 a new washing machine, £460 a new laptop and MS Office for an apprentice. £1,200 pays for the annual license of our welfare benefits checker that helps hundreds of people every year.
But that just talks about what we can offer, not what we actually spend the money on. Each and every year we help hundreds of home improvement employees, past and present, through all of our programmes. Last year we helped one man who had lost his wife at a very young age. We were able to help with new white goods and school uniforms, debt advice, bereavement counselling and much more.
Another applicant asked us for help with rent arrears which had built up because of long-term illness. By intervening with the landlord we literally got the keys back as he was being evicted. We kept the roof over his head. A young lad had left a young offenders’ institution and while in there had discovered that he had a talent for carpentry. We were able to buy him a set of tools so that he could practice at home for his apprenticeship and now according to his mentor he has turned a corner because he loves what he does.
But just like your personal money, what we don’t spend the donations on is just as important. We DON’T waste it on swanky London offices and huge rents. We don’t have a massive staff to pay salaries for – there are now three of us, one full time, one on 4 days a week and our new Fundraising Manager on 3 days a week. We don’t spend a fortune on marketing and advertising because we work closely with the trade publications to get free articles whenever we can.
This year once again we will be running a budget deficit because the number of people that we help is growing rapidly – we spend three times as much now on helping people as we did three years ago. And we expect that growth rate to continue. This means that we have to be more diligent when it comes to saving money and raise more to meet the need. There’s the rub – meet the need! Not want, need. I’ve said it time and again – having to make a choice about whether you heat your home or eat is something that simply shouldn’t happen in 2019 Britain, but it does. I have seen homes where there is ice on the inside of the windows in the morning because it is so cold. This person wasn’t lazy, or drinking. They were in their eighties and were desperately trying to survive on a pathetic pension. But don’t worry, it’ll never happen to you, will it?