The 12 grants awarded to each organisation ranged from $4800 to the maximum available allocation of $20,000.
Created in 2012, the Social Impact Fund provides for the delivery of services targeting six key government-identified focus areas – gender equality, children and youth, disabilities, the elderly, domestic violence and mental health.
“The government of the Cook Islands has budgeted approximately $880,000 every year to support NGOs and CSOs,” said Internal Affairs secretary Anne Herman, addressing the representatives of each organisation gathered together to sign their SIF contracts at the Ministry of Internal Affairs on Thursday.
“The reason why it does this is because it doesn’t want to provide these services directly – it wants to arm the community groups to be able to do these things.
“So whilst it creates policies and plans and directions and priorities, it wants the groups, who are at the level of the people, to actually implement.”
Unusually, Thursday’s signing marked the first time Internal Affairs had been able to deliver two rounds of SIF project funding in one financial year. SIF project funding is for short-term one-off initiatives, with grants set at a maximum of $20,000, as opposed to SIF programme funding, which is for services delivered over a period of up to three years and involves grants of more than $20,000.
“It was because we had a lot more money available,” said SIF national co-ordinator Angeline Tuara, adding that she wanted to do as much as she could to help the country’s NGOs.
“If I am able to help any group here to access funds that they are entitled to, but don’t know how to use properly, that’s where I put my hand up,” said Tuara.
“Come and ask – I don’t know how to help you until you actually come in.”
Expanding on that idea, SIF chair Teariki Rongo said that sustainability was also an important issue for NGOs.
“That means finding out ways to keep your programme going instead of always asking for money,” he said.
“We understand that there are some areas in our community that will always require these sort of funds, but we also feel that for the most part, we should look at sustainability – trying to find a way to get the work that we are wanting the money for to keep going.”
The funding received by each organisation was as follows: Blue Light, $20,000; Lokal Creative magazine, $20,000; Women & Girls, $20,000; Aitutaki Sailing Club, $19,700; Te Kainga, $18,500; Creative Centre, $14,000; Teimurimotia, $13,000; Aitutaki YFPC, $12,100; Mitiaro Youth, $10,496; Matavera Youth, $9504; Religious Advisory Council, $7150; Are Pa Metua, $4800.