Of the many reasons to love this season, non-profit organisations are high on our list.
Every year around this time, an abundance of awareness activities, fundraisers and other events draw needed attention to the important work NPOs carry out year-round in the Virgin Islands.
Last month, for instance, the VI Alzheimer’s Association hosted several Alzheimer’s Awareness Month activities. In October, the BVI Diabetes Association and the BVI Cancer Society typically organise similar observances, and the Family Support Network spearheads Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Such activities, of course, are only a small part of NPOs’ important work. Their initiatives range widely.
Green VI, the Association of Reef Keepers, and Beyond the Reef work tirelessly for the environment. The Humane Society of the BVI and PAW BVI rescue dozens of animals each year.
Multiple Rotary and Lions clubs routinely spearhead important projects and build civic engagement.
VI Search and Rescue saves lives at sea, using volunteers to provide the service at a fraction of the cost the government would spend to do the job.
Unite BVI has funded many laudable initiatives, including the works necessary to house students recently displaced from the former Althea Scatliffe Primary School in Road Town.
The BVI Red Cross — along with VISAR, the FSN and others — stepped up to the plate in a big way to assist the entire community after Hurricane Irma and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
And this long list is by no means exhaustive.
We hope NPOs will keep up the good work, and that other residents will support them — and follow their example by launching new NPOs when needed.
The government, meanwhile, must also provide support. In some cases — particularly where NPOs’ work would otherwise fall to the public sector — this means upping annual financial allocations. NPOs, after all, tend to spend money much more effectively than the government.
In other cases, government should simply get out of the way. Too often, NPO leaders complain of bureaucratic red tape or public officials who are over-eager to take credit for their work or steer their efforts toward pet projects that aren’t in the territory’s best interest.
At times, government has even signed agreements with NPOs and then failed to uphold its end of the deal.
Better must come. NPOs do invaluable work, and they must receive the support they need.
Kudos to their volunteers, employees and supporters for their persistence in making this territory a better place for everyone.