Crunch time for charities

By Leon Symons, August 8, 2008

Jewish charities are suffering grave financial effects from the credit crunch sweeping the UK.

Charities in all areas - from single-issue organisations to those with larger remits - have seen donations fall as people find themselves with less disposable income while spending more on utility bills.

The cost of kosher food has also risen dramatically this year, meaning charities are having to spend far more on running costs.

Of the 2,200-odd charities serving Jewish interests, only 70 have so far taken part in the Jewish Leadership Council's Shared Resources Initiative, but chief executive Jeremy Newmark said more are joining all the time.

It began three years ago with 15 organisations, including the Board of Deputies, the Community Security Trust, Maccabi GB, Norwood, Nightingale and World Jewish Relief.

Mr Newmark said: "A pilot scheme ran for about a year with a small number. We looked at three areas: utilities, waste management and connectivity, that is telephones and internet.

"We then widened to general office equipment, stationery, IT, janitorial and cleaning supplies, vending machines and office maintenance.

"We have also started to work on an experimental basis with one or two Jewish schools in both the primary and secondary sectors.

"They are now coming to us of their own volition to join the scheme."

The JLC employs procurement staff to work with charities. The experts charge a fee but nothing is paid until savings of at least 10 per cent have been identified. The fee for the counsellor is then paid out of the savings made.

"We have now begun to expand the areas in which we are working," said Mr Newmark. "In the coming months we will be looking at insurance, legal services, vehicles and even catering.

"Similar schemes have been tried in the past but they have always fallen by the wayside. Now it is vitally important, particularly for the smaller organisations, that this scheme succeeds. We will get as many charities as we can involved in this."

Last updated: 11:05am, August 7 2008