Podcast: Elaine Butterfield On Role Of Charities

March 22, 2016

Bermuda would descend into chaos if it were not for the contribution of the charities on the Island. That is the view of Elaine Butterfield, the executive director of the Centre on Philanthropy, who speaks candidly in this latest edition of Bernews’ podcast about the future of the charitable sector.

“The charitable sector in Bermuda facilitates the Government’s social agenda,” she says. “I earnestly believe that we would be an island existing in chaos without the contribution that the charities provide.”

She adds in the interview: “It is admirable to see the debt going down but I think there needs to be more of a holistic approach. The economy has not just affected society in Bermuda, it has also affected the charities that provide the services.

Bernews Podcast with Elaine Butterfield

“In spite of the fact that we are lowering our debt, there are still charities that are closing down, people are still not having food to eat, people are still not having a place to stay.

“There needs to be just as much concern for hope and the lack of hope that people seem to have in our society nowadays which has increased for charities in our society.”

The Centre on Philanthropy will soon be launching a new programme working with Government organisations to train up people and hiring them out to non-profits who otherwise could not afford to hire staff. A deal will be worked out whereby they can be hired for a much reduced rate.

The new programme is also designed to help charities collaborate more closely and it will also offer advice on mergers.

19 minute podcast with Elaine Butterfield, the Executive Director of Centre of Philantrophy


Bernews’ podcasts aim to provide an in-depth look at current affairs and different issues affecting the Island, and the text extracts above represent only a small portion of the full interview.

You can also download the episode in MP3 format here, view past podcasts here, and subscribe via iTunes, or download the Bernews app and enjoy advance listening, with each episode available for download directly to your phone or tablet earlier than it is released on our main site.

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Comments (15)

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  1. Mike says:

    There are some charities that I support – and others I would not.

    I have never understood why when it costs the individual quite a lot of money to participate in certain events – like the End to End – that a significant slice of that goes to buy a T Shirt.

    Looks good – but wouldn’t it be better if the money actually went to the cause?

    • serenegeti says:

      I’m pretty sure the money they ask for way more than covers the cost of the t-shirt. It’s raised millions for Bermuda causes and brings the community together.

  2. Bermudian says:

    Some of the major contributors of these charities come from the expat community. Way to go, Bermuda, after what the expat community had to endure last week from the locals, telling them to go home, I don’t think they will come running to give you their money.

  3. Hurricane says:

    @ Bermudian……..hopefully they haven’t adopted that attitude, because, that being the case, they can do exactly that…….GO HOME!

    • archy says:

      so they can stay as long as they continue to hand over their money to charities that help the entire island, and if they don’t hand over their money they can go, is that what you are saying?

      • Hurricane says:

        @ archly, absolutely not. What I am saying is if it was in their hearts and they are in a position to donate; yet adopted that attitude because a handful are opposed to them. Need I say more?

        • sage says:

          OBA only wants them to pay our pensions and pay off our debt to maintain the status quo, you think they want them here out of love?

        • archy says:

          A bizarre comment.

    • Bermy says:

      What kind of a stupid comment was that???? Tired of Bermudian cutting off their noses to spite your face.

  4. Curious says:

    The big question is why so many charities for our population? Why has Government approved the creation of so many for so long? Why have donors supported this model of indirect taxation?

    There appears to be little information on accountability or impact – no transparency with respect to salaries and wages like the 990 forms in the US. Where is the data around the need for and the impact of all these services?

    It appears to have built in inefficiencies – how many ED do we require with all these small to medium charities. How many more board members do we need to duplicate governance of duplicate programmes and services? Is it a result of individual ego run wild that drives this model in Bermuda?

    The only reason consolidation is now a conversation is that donor funds are not flowing like before. Many charities are quietly closing services and letting go of staff yet keeping the high paid executive.

    Crying chaos if they close, as Ms. Butterfield claims, is not the data driven answer that we all deserve. How many charities duplicate services also offered by Government departments? Think of all the possibilities that question raises. Maybe that is a SAGE question.

    What benefits and savings will be gained by merging The Centre on Philanthropy with the Bermuda Community Foundation?

    It seems appropriate that before you offer theses services to others you look at your own landscape and ask the tough questions around duplication of management, office space, board governance.

    Ironically one charity operates out of the top floor of Sterling House and one charity on the bottom floor- a Bermuda charity sandwich.

  5. Raymond Ray says:

    “Bermuda would descend into chaos if it were not for the contributions of the charities on the Island.”
    As we’lot would say, “ain’t dat de truff”.

    • sage says:

      Yes imagine all those charity execs no longer able to take the lions’ share of donations to pay themselves six figure incomes, would really be chaos.