Why Bermuda is another world
Why Bermuda is another world
When the people in some countries see suffering, they expect their governments to take care of it. They learn to keep a certain distance from people who need help.
Bermudians are different. They see suffering and want to help. They feel a personal responsibility to help those in danger, or in need. And that is part of the reason Bermuda really is Another World.
I was inspired to write this article by the wonderful turnout the One Bermuda Alliance’s youth group, the Future Bermuda Alliance, had when we asked for volunteers to help with the Cathedral breakfast on Monday. The FBA is the youth wing of the OBA.
Until the election, I was its vice chairman. I was pleased to be able to rejoin them at the Cathedral breakfast. There were 15 people there to serve those who were in need, so you can see we had no difficulty getting people to turn to for this excellent service for those in need.
There are approximately 430 charities in Bermuda — that’s one for every 167 people who live here — an enormous number by comparison with other countries. It’s something we should be proud of, and something we should encourage in our children.
But there is a downside to charity. Sometimes unscrupulous people are tempted for selfish reasons to take advantage of Bermudian willingness to give. So to protect people who are potentially donors, the Government has a big job to do in overseeing charities.
Amendments to the Charities Act, passed by the House of Assembly at the end of last month, bring the existing legislation up to date in an effort to ensure greater transparency and accountability in the sector, which employs around 900 people and generates $70 million in annual revenue.
The new amendments ensuring organizations regularly file up-to-date financial statements have been passed by the House of Assembly, and will take effect once regulations have been written and published.
The government is urging that charities should be certified in a scheme run by the Bermuda National Standards Committee. The Committee says that 12 charities — including Bermuda National Gallery, the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award Bermuda and PRIDE Bermuda — have undergone its certification process and it hopes many more will sign up.
The Centre on Philanthropy says it welcomes the new legislation to replace the “outdated” Charities Act 1978.
The Centre’s Executive director, Elaine Williams, said: “The new Act is a vital part of the charitable sector’s management and accountability, but this also means a higher standard of operations and ultimately better service provision to clients and the community.
“The daily operations of most charities are carried out by qualified, passionate professionals who are experts in their field.
“We believe that most of the larger established charities are able to meet the standards of the new act and The Centre on Philanthropy is here to assist all charities in achieving this.”
In advance of the new legislation being debated in the House, the Centre on Philanthropy held several town meetings, presentations and focus group meetings with the public and the organization’s membership.
“As a result, a submission was sent to the Government outlining concerns and suggestions collected from our membership,” Ms Williams said. “We are pleased that some of our suggested recommendations have been included in this document.”
The Centre, she said, had been pleased it was able to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Registry General to confirm the commitment of both parties to work together to ensure non-profits are properly equipped to deliver the best possible service to the public.
“We urge charities to operate as much as possible within best practice guidelines, and to seek advice and assistance through the Centre on Philanthropy when needed.”
Nandi Outerbridge is the One Bermuda Alliance MP for St George’s West.