SHETLAND Charitable Trust is set to ride out the economic uncertainty surrounding coronavirus before considering further grant applications.
The Trust’s chairman Dr Andrew Cooper said that with the trust’s funds being hit by the global economic downturn, plus the extra burdens being placed on staff who were now working from home, there would be an as yet indeterminate period when new applications would not be processed.
The trust earlier announced its suspension of an £881,000 grant aid scheme intended to tackle “inequality and social exclusion” that had received 29 eligible bids.
It would have brought the trust’s charitable support to £10 million in 2020/21 as part of a five-year programme effectively loosening the purse strings that was announced in September.
It is to pay out half of its annual core funding grants to organisations like Shetland Recreational Trust, Shetland Amenity Trust, the Shetland Arts Development Agency and a “host” of voluntary sector organisations on 1 April.
Its investment fund has meanwhile fallen in value from £330 million a few months ago to around £285 million, owing to the market turmoil.
Cooper said that there was a misconception that the trust could just hand out money from that admittedly big fund. Instead, he emphasised, that money has to be maintained to allow the surpluses that are spent on the trust’s core charitable beneficiaries.
Cooper added: “The problem is that the income from that is the source of money that we disburse. It is £8 million, which we hope will rise to over £9 million.
“If we spend that money [the investment fund] we will not have money to generate for future payments.”
But it was impossible to say when the planned new grant programme would be back on track, he added, or other applications considered.
Like the SCT’s own staff, many of the organisations that the trust backs are running on a skeleton staff, home working if possible, and have cut the services they provide to the public and are no longer generating income.
Cooper earlier said that that trust had been “fortunate” in that its funds had benefitted from strong growth earlier in the year before plummeting as a result of the pandemic.
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