Charities in Oman hit hard by year of austerity

Business Wednesday 17/February/2016 22:27 PM
By: Times News Service
Charities in Oman hit hard by year of austerity

MUSCAT: Charitable associations are struggling to keep their heads above the water as this year’s economic condition has struck a hard blow to the functioning of non-profit organisations (NGOs) in Oman that depend on donations to keep them afloat.
This year’s austerity and economic hardship is affecting the majority of the Sultanate, where some companies have taken steps to cut costs, as well as lay off a few of their employees to deal with the dire situation. Charities are among those feeling the heat due to companies scaling back their budgets.
According to statistics from the Donations Portal for Charitable Organisations (, there has been a decreasing trend in donations made by individuals since 2014. In 2014, the total number of donations by individuals for charities stood at OMR547,547.40, while in 2015 it slipped to OMR525,852, at an average of OMR45,628.5 and OMR43,821 per month.
In 2016, the trend continues, where in January, the total number of donations for all charities stood at OMR39,721.26. So far in February 2016, around OMR14,000 has been donated for different causes.
Topping the list of donations is a charity created for Syria named ‘Syria Help Campaign’, organised by the Oman Charitable Organisation, to which more than OMR11,500 has been donated this year, while Saddaqa, a form of goodwill charity, collected about OMR11,000 so far and distributed it among all the registered charitable organisations.
“We are currently in a state of worry; some companies have always supported us during certain annual programmes we hold, in terms of sponsorships and donations, but have regrettably informed us they cannot continue to donate,” said May Al Bayat, Marketing Director of Dar Al Atta’a.
“We cannot force a company to donate and they have their reasons for pulling out; but at the same time they can reduce the amount donated instead of stopping it completely,” she
further added.
To explain their struggle this year, Dar Al Atta’a recently held a ‘Treasure Hunt’, which is an annual event, and Al Bayat said they usually collect over OMR20,000 every time they hold the activity. This year Dar Al Atta’a got only OMR12,500.
For some organisations, it is a matter of survival. Sabah Al Bahlani, chief executive officer of the Early Intervention Centre for Children with Disabilities, said they are struggling and at risk of shutting down the centre if the situation does not improve, but Al Bahlani assured they will not give up.
“It affected us very hard; we have teachers and therapists working here. We don’t have any income, except the charity of individuals, the community and companies,” said Al Bahlani.
She added, “Due to the economic situation we are not able to get the amount we usually get, because some companies are affected. Though some are dedicated and gave us the same amount, some have reduced their donations and others have stopped because of how badly they have been affected.”
Speaking on behalf of all charitable organisations that have been affected by 2016’s economic difficulties, Al Bayat encouraged people to donate to charities in order to keep them in business to serve and help the community.
“Individuals could play a big role in supporting the charities, take into consideration the difficult situation that we are in and will face this year,” said Al Bayat.
Echoing the same encouragement, Al Bahlani said, “People should support the NGOs because we provide a service to the community; whatever we do is going back to the community. Help us help you.”