A Casualty of Covid

01 Apr 2021

Hands Across the Water commenced its work in 2005, and the position at the time was that 100% of the donations went directly to the children of Baan Tharn Namchai. The fundraising that I conducted in those first couple of years was different then what a traditional charity might employ and as such I was able to avoid or personally cover those fundraising and administration expenses. I felt proud that as the time passed and the income raised continued to grow that I was able to retain that position. It became clear to me that donors and supporters appreciated that all of their donations were going, in full, to the kids of Thailand.

As the charity grew and we looked to the future, we knew that to best serve the children and grow our operations which would allow us to increase the number of children we supported, that there would come a time that we would benefit by having employed staff here in Australia to manage and grow our fundraising activities. In 2011, the board established a social enterprise which is now known as Hands Group with the sole purpose of undertaking diverse and commercial activities to generate additional funds. Hands Group mandate was to grow the charity and our fundraising activities but be self sufficient through generating its own income, thereby ensuring 100% of donations continued to support the children and communities of Thailand. Hands Group had grown to be a highly successful organisation with Future of Leadership as the flagship offering with year on year growth in patronage and profit.

With the onset of Covid-19, in early 2020 our operations which had delivered so much to Hands Group such as Future of Leadership were initially postponed and then with a realisation of the enormity of the impact and likely longevity, they were cancelled. All of the momentum that had been created in building a profitable social enterprise was if not gone entirely, certainly severely impacted. Without the ability to hold our events that generate the funds, we couldn't continue to operate as we had.

The community that Hands Across the Water has grown to support in Thailand is a very different entity than that which we first started with and every company and person who has donated, ridden, or supported us should be rightfully proud of the change we have achieved. We have brought about significant change to the lives of the children.

Without a profitable Hands Group to design, build and deliver the income generating actives such as Future of Leadership and the six corporate rides in 2020, the ability to raise the donations to support the children to the standard we do is severely compromised.

With a heavy heart and after much soul searching, deliberations and exploration of alternate options extending over the past twelve months, the Board of Hands Across the Water has resolved that as a direct result of the impact of Covid 19 that a small percentage of charity funds will temporarily be used to support Hands Group, therein ensuring the survival of the charity during these challenging times that have been forced upon us. Arriving at this decision the Board considered all alternatives and consulted with external stakeholders prior to arriving at our position. The agreed position is that 10% of income generated by the Charity for 2021 and 2022, will be used to sustain Hands Group. We do not propose this to be indefinite with a desire to return to Hands Group being self-sufficient once again by 2023. With the ending of Jobkeeper here in Australia, which provided great support to our team, we are now unable to continue to operate as we have.

For 15 years we were able to ensure that 100% of donors funds went directly to the children and communities we support in Thailand. It has taken a global pandemic to interrupt our operations and bring about this change which is undesired but will ensure the children receive the same level of care and support with access to medicine, accommodation and university scholarships. The most pleasing aspect of this all is that the standard of care for the children has not been compromised in anyway. We have some exciting initiatives that we have been working hard on over the last several months that reduces our reliance on experience led activities and these initiatives will bring continued and sustainable income streams into Hands.

As supporters of Hands, both large and small, we deeply value your past support and ask for your continued support and belief in our work as we navigate our way through these challenging times.

Peter Baines OAM
Director and Founder Hands Across the Water

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