Natural disasters, food scarcity, poverty, war, a lack of equal access to education, inequality, disease control… it’s a list with a beginning, but seemingly no end and not a day goes by when we don’t see appeals from organisations and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations), asking for our support. It might feature a celebrity patron, appealing on their behalf. But more often than not, it’s heart-wrenching images of people in distress, devastated cities or children crying in hunger and fear. These images remind us of the urgency to donate. They give us a glimpse into circumstances we fear.
These kinds of images are often necessary when funding an emergency response and such campaigns can be very successful in quickly capturing the hearts and minds of donors who are likely to already know of the disaster from media reports. But most charities do not simply spring into existence when the worst happens. There are tens of thousands of charitable and humanitarian organisations across Europe and they operate all year round through the generosity of donors, partners and grant funding. “In an organisation, you can have different impacts. With disaster relief, the impact is in the short term. When you design long-term projects, you bring positive social norm change and also policy change for the local communities,” explains Jochem Roels, Corporate Partnerships and Major Donors Director of Plan International Belgium. “In a disaster setting, of course, people need to survive – not the next year – but the next day.” Urgent need is a powerful incentive to give, but the work of Plan International is also broad reaching. As an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children's rights and equality for girls, they tackle everything from education and child protection to advocacy, access to healthcare and disaster response. It’s essential work and like many charitable organisations there is a requirement to keep income at a steady level to fund their important year-round work.