Ouch, that hurts! 

Written by: Agnes Kroese, CEO of Dorcas

In recent weeks, the development sector in the Netherlands has taken several hard blows. The new plans of the future government (Hoofdlijnenakkoord) announced not only severe cuts, but also restricting tax benefits on donations to civil society organisations. I am deeply concerned about this and when I heard it, it almost hurt physically. We are on the eve of the biggest cuts in development cooperation in Dutch history. How can we continue to look at ourselves in the moral mirror when the global poverty and inequality gap is growing in the background? A gap that will not disappear by hiding behind our Dutch dikes, but that requires us to work together to tackle these problems both far away and close to home.

Besides reducing government costs, the cuts are also intended to make NGOs less dependent on government subsidies. At the same time, the new government is blocking another important source of funding, donations from individuals. Limiting the tax benefits on donations will make it less attractive for people like you to donate. Research has already shown a decline in giving, and experts predict that this decline will increase as a result of these plans.    

You would expect that by restricting one, alternatives would be encouraged. However, the opposite is the case. It feels as if this is giving us one extra blow after the other. Our financial resources are being eroded, but so are the resources we can mobilise through society. It is a painful reality that may even force us to make difficult and painful choices in the future. Fewer projects, less support, less impact….    

I dread to think about what this means for those in need. Like lonely older people in Albania who are not seen, children in Egypt who have no space to play, learn and develop their talents, youth unemployment in Ethiopia which remains extremely high, and there are countless other examples.   

No matter how hard these government policies hit us, Dorcas remains more than one hundred per cent committed to the people who so urgently need our support. We have been doing this for almost 45 years and we will continue to do so. At a time when the world is facing so many conflicts and disasters, it is crucial to work for a more equal world. That is why we are calling on everyone in the Netherlands to continue to support relief organisations with donations, but also with time and prayer. So that we can continue to do what we do best: support people in need.    

Together, let us ensure a future where we do not abandon our neighbours and those close to us, but continue to support and empower those who are struggling. Let us keep investing in hope and change. It is what the world needs, especially now!   

Agnes Kroes is CEO of Dorcas. Agnes: ‘I contribute with great dedication to our mission in creating opportunities for people and communities to flourish. One of the ways I do this is through a monthly column in Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad. In this column, I share insights from my professional experience at Dorcas. My aim is to inspire, inform and encourage readers to engage with Dorcas’ initiatives, campaigns, and projects.

01 June 2024

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