At a meeting on 14 September 2016 to discuss the conclusions of the recent consultation on Progressio’s future, the charity’s trustees and chair of trustees took the decision to begin proceedings to close Progressio.
Martin McEnery, Progressio’s Chair of Trustees, said:
“This decision has been taken with deep regret, on the basis that we have not been able to secure sufficient levels of income to ensure a viable future post March 2017. It is our intention to as far as possible complete all project and partner commitments through to the end of March 2017 alongside our Global South partners. For the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme our sub-contract will pass back to the ICS contract holder Voluntary Service Overseas. With regards to the other three projects where funding continues beyond the end of March 2017, we are currently working with a few organisations to ensure our current work and existing commitments can be fulfilled after March 2017.
“The decision to close comes despite intensive fundraising efforts and many years of investing to diversify income. Unfortunately, the funding landscape has become increasingly competitive and we have been unable to replace the £2 million unrestricted grant per annum from the Department for International Development which comes to an end in December 2016.
“We, the trustees and myself as Chair, have reached this decision with great sadness. The decision was agreed and supported by all the trustees. We are hugely proud of all that has been achieved since the charity was formed in 1940.
“In particular we appreciate and thank all of our staff, Development Workers and volunteers both in the UK and overseas, as well as all of our supporters like you. Together, your support and dedication have helped our partners and some of the world’s most marginalised communities achieve incredible things, empower themselves and challenge multiple unfair power structures.
“Our thoughts now are with the people we work alongside, such as the Yemeni, Somali and Southern African women struggling to have a voice and working to counter deeply entrenched abuses of their rights and violence targeted against them. They are also with the subsistence farmers across all our country programmes in Central America, Africa and Yemen who are striving for sustainable livelihoods and to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives. We will do our utmost to ensure their voices continue to be heard and their struggles supported.
“We would like to thank you all for your support, donations and time. Moving forwards, we are no longer actively fundraising. However, any donations that we receive will go towards our core funding to help us keep providing support to the people and partners we work with in fragile states until March 2017.
“We leave a proud legacy and the foundation of a huge amount of good work that will now be continued by others across many countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. We will seek to ensure that as much of our legacy as possible is captured and that some of our history, achievements and learning are made available to others.”
Fiona Mwashita, Progressio’s Sub Regional Manager of Southern Africa said:
“I would like to thank all the supporters of Progressio who have helped us carry out significant development work through our international programmes.”
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Q and A
Q. Why is Progressio closing?
As projects and their associated funding come to a close between now and the end of the financial year, we face starting April 2017 with less than £90,000 in secured grant income, plus our programme-related International Citizens Service funding which does not cover the costs of the essential core functions of the charity. We have explored all avenues, to try to secure sources of unrestricted funds. Like many charities, particularly those working overseas, we have been finding it more and more difficult.
Q What are the timescales for the closure?
The process of closing Progressio started when the Trustees took the decision to close at the board meeting on 14 September. The process to close will end in March 2017.
Q What will happen to your work programmes?
Programmes that are funded up to March 2017 will continue as normal as much as is possible. We have initiated conversations with various organisations to begin the process of handing over our current work to fulfil our commitments post March 2017. We will work hard with all relevant parties to explore all options and to ensure the best possible outcomes.
These conversations are ongoing. We will announce more information about this later in the period of closure.
Q What will happen to ICS?
For the International Citizen Service (ICS) programme our sub-contract will pass back to the ICS contract holder Voluntary Service Overseas.
Q What will happen to your staff?
Understandably, staff – as well as trustees, partners, funders and supporters – are upset by this news. But they understand the situation the organisation is in and because of their outstanding work over the years, there is a great deal of respect and affection for Progressio and we are grateful to everyone for their support and kind words.
Unfortunately all staff here and in-country will be made redundant between January and March. All staff have been informed and are being supported both on a professional and personal level.
Q How did the recent consultation work?
The consultation invited comments, suggestion and support from Progressio’s staff, supporters, donors, members and partners. All contributions were recorded and we held meetings with staff, trustees and key stakeholders to attempt to secure the future of Progressio. We did all we could to secure major donor funds and held conversations with various organisations about the possibility of merger. The consultation ended on 14 September and culminated in a board decision to begin the process of closing the organisation based on the outcome of the consultation, which ultimately did not result in sufficient unrestricted funding being raised or pledged, and no other funding avenue being made available.
Q I am currently donating by direct debit/standing order. What should I do/when should I terminate it?
Thank you so much. If you wish to continue your direct debit/standing order all the funds you have donated and are donating will continue to help provide support to the people and partners we work with in fragile states, until the end of March 2017. Any funds that remain after the closure have to be used in accordance with the charitable objects of Progressio. At our Annual General Meeting in November, members will be voting on how remaining funds will be used.
We will keep you informed about these decisions and about arrangements for terminating direct debits at the end of March 2017.