Non-profits need financial aid to manage overheads

National 1 minute, 42 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

CHARITY organisations need more financial aid from the government in order to support their operational costs, said a representative from the Society for the Management of Autism Related issues in Training, Education and Resources (SMARTER).

Sharifah Adila Surya, SMARTER’s assistant director of administration, said discretionary funds to support NGOs should be included in the upcoming Disability Order, which is in the process of being drafted.

“Sponsorship for fundraisers or certain products (we need) is easy to get, but in terms of getting support to maintain our operations and pay our therapists salaries, there is virtually none,” she told The Brunei Times.

“When we apply for operational costs, just to operate for a month or two months, it’s near impossible to get that kind of money to come in.”

Sharifah said SMARTER relies on donations and students’ fees of $120 a month to support their operation costs, but that they often operate on a “month-to-month” basis with no financial security.

“All NGOs face this problem because securing financial aid is quite difficult. So if the government could address this through the Disability Order that would be great.”

Non-profits such as SMARTER and other NGOs provide an important service to the special needs community, complementing the government’s efforts for an inclusive society, said Sharifah.

SMARTER, established in 2001, is the longest-running autism centre in the country.

It currently has 209 students enrolled in the centre’s branches in Kuala Belait and Brunei-Muara. It also runs the Brunei Autism Centre for Adults.

In a previous report, SMARTER president Malai Hj Abdullah Malai Hj Othman said he would be forced to shut down the centres in Brunei-Muara and Belait if their financial situation does not improve.

He estimated that the organisation needs $50,000 a month to operate, half of which come from students’ fees, and the other half from donations.

SMARTER’s financial projection for the entire year showed an estimated income of $471,360 (including donations), but expenses for the year are estimated to be $585,760, which would equate to a 2014 financial deficit of $114,400.

The Brunei Times