Vicki Hamilton from Heartfelt House.
Vicki Hamilton from Heartfelt House. The Northern Star/David Nielsen

Charities lose heart during tough times

VICKI HAMILTON fears charity organisations like Wollongbar-based Heartfelt House will struggle to survive if investment funds affected by the economic downturn cannot afford to continue making large donations.

Ms Hamilton, the executive officer of Heartfelt House, said many local charities relied on donations from firms such as Mayne Investments, which in June handed out a share of $115,000 to 10 local non-profit organisations.

While Ms Hamilton hoped the economic climate would be better by this time next year, she said it was uncertain whether firms would be in a position to repeat the donations next year.

“It is a substantial amount that has been pivotal to our survival, and it would make things a lot more difficult if we didn't get that,” Ms Hamilton said.

“It means we have to look for money else- where, taking up time we could otherwise spend helping people.

“But I'm sure they will do what is best for everybody. They are a bunch of kind-hearted guys.”

She said Heartfelt House, which helps adult survivors of child sex abuse, relied heavily on the annual donation, which helped to pay for running costs like rent and electricity bills.

Since 2001 Mayne Investments has donated more than $750,000 to local charities, including Camp Quality, Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopter, and Our Kids.

The money comes from a trust funded from management fees.

Mayne Investments Lismore general manager Greg Andersen said next year's donations were uncertain.

“At this stage it is too early to tell what the effect will be,” he said. “We would like to continue the donations, but it is too early to tell.”

Meanwhile, Dalwood woman Robyn Faulks has had to put a family holiday to Norfolk Island on hold after her money in two local managed investment funds was frozen.

Other locals who have been using the investment funds like savings accounts are struggling to repay loans, or buy that house they wanted because they cannot access their funds during the 90-day freeze.

Many people used investment funds like savings accounts because they earned interest daily and did not charge the customer to withdraw money, Ms Faulks said.

“The Government needs to support investment funds more. It is in the community's interest to keep them viable,” she said.



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