Updated: Oct 18
To read the full report click on link below.
A word from the Chairman
Hi to all of our supporters.
You have once again provided us with the funds we need to continue our work in Cambodia. It is now 10 years since we started working with our first school at Phum O and we now support 10 schools and around 3500 students in the two communes in which we operate. I hope you enjoy the story of our journey included with our annual report.
COVID-19 has challenged both our fundraising activities in Australia and the schools and the communities we work with in Cambodia. As a result of COVID-19, our schools closed around the time of the mid-year break and have not yet returned, although it is hoped that they will reopen at the start of the new school year in November.
While the year stated in the normal way, with our major fundraising dinner and a director’s trip to Cambodia to ensure that the schools had the necessary materials for the year, COVID19 changed everything. It forced us to cancel a number of our major fundraising events and meant that we could not undertake the activities that we had planned for Cambodia in March. We have had to adapt to these circumstances, with online fundraising being a more significant part of our fundraising this year.
A major milestone for us this year, was receiving advice that our application for tax deductible status under the Overseas Aid Deduction Scheme had been approved. This now means that all donations to the Foundation can receive tax deductible receipts. We are also in the process of upgrading our website and we hope that you enjoy the new layout and content. We would love to hear your feedback on both the website and its content.
The board has also resolved this year to look for new members, to both encourage greater involvement in our activities and ensure that we are sustainable as an organisation.
I thank you for your ongoing involvement and look forward to your continuing support for the work we undertake with the communities and schools where we operate in Cambodia.
It has been a challenging but interesting year. In July 2019 there was no indication that the forthcoming financial year would be anything but normal. Little did we know that we would have to do things differently, adapting to our changed circumstances in these COVID-19 times. But change we did, becoming increasingly flexible, learning as we went, particularly as far as fundraising was concerned. Importantly, we were still able to deliver our program.
Here are the highlights:
9110 workbooks, 3013 pens or pencils, 1450 uniforms and 100 bikes were distributed to 3419 students at the 10 schools that we support
Two new classrooms were built at Thnal Dach school
Four classroom teachers and one vice-principal attended a Teachers Across Borders course
A successful Gala dinner was held at Ascot House at which we raised $12,500
The second High Tea at The Gables raised $1500
A ‘Buy a Bike for Christmas’ crowdfunding and accompanying publicity campaign raised $2200
A ‘Help Our Cambodian Families During The Pandemic’ campaign raised $1700
A 10th birthday crowdfunding campaign raised $5500 • Deductible Gift Recipient status was achieved
95% of net revenue was available to spend in Cambodia
As usual, we commenced our planning early for the regular visit to our schools at the beginning of the Cambodian school year and undertook the trip in October.
We held a wonderful annual gala dinner in November with an extraordinarily inspiring guest speaker, Soky Saly, owner and founder of Beekeeper Parade, an organisation that manufactures backpacks and other products from recycled fabrics. The products are manufactured in Cambodia and the proceeds go towards the support of a number of Cambodian schools. We conducted a successful crowdfunding campaign ‘Buy a Bike for Christmas’ in December and our second high tea at The Gables was held in February.
But then, in March, the worldwide coronavirus pandemic hit Australia. It had a dramatic effect on our fundraising efforts and forced the cancellation of the planned visit to the schools by two of our Directors that month. Two fundraising events had to be cancelled — a fundraising bike tour of Sri Lanka, and the annual trivia night. It was hoped to raise between $15,000 and $20,000 from these two activities.
During the March trip to Cambodia it had been planned to purchase a number of computers, printers and new blackboards along with some chairs for one of the prep rooms. An arrangement was made for our in-country representative Sao Bunrith to purchase the materials in our absence. However, as the schools were closed down soon afterwards and had not reopened by the end of June, this did not occur. However, it was possible to install security bars at one school in preparation for the computers being introduced later on. Another consequence of the cancellation of the trip was that individual meetings with each principal and school support committee chairpersons, which had been set up to conduct mini evaluations of our work, also did not take place.
With the cancellation of the two fund-raising events we turned to other means. Crowdfunding was the obvious choice. We were really pleased with our first attempt prior to the pandemic, the Christmas crowdfunding campaign promoting the idea of buying a bike for a Cambodian student as a Christmas gesture, and built on it with two more online appeals early in 2020. One was a ‘Help Our Cambodian Families During the Pandemic’ appeal and the other a 10 year anniversary crowdfunding campaign which coincided with the end of the financial year. The online funding approach was successful with a total of $7700 raised from these appeals.
Notwithstanding the fundraising challenges, our net revenue for the year was $31,500. As has consistently been the case, 95% of this income, a little under $29,800, was able to be spent in Cambodia supporting the schools, their families and students. There was a shortfall in funding, but only $4,727 had to be drawn from our reserves. The end of year balance sheet was healthy with net assets in the order of $60,000.
A major highlight of the year was the gaining of Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status which means that all donations are now tax deductible. We had been preparing for this for some time. Although we had had an arrangement with Rotary World Community Services for a number of years, we knew we had to achieve DGR status in our own right for it be sustainable. We were thrilled when this was achieved. We are extremely appreciative of the support given to us by the Rotary Club of Croydon and Montrose in the intervening years.
All in all, it was a successful year. Almost 3500 children have benefited from our work and importantly, have been able to go to school.
Our strategic plan provides the framework within which we operate. It is built around the central concept of a three-way partnership between Children of Cambodia, the local community and the school. Working in close collaboration with our partners is critical in ensuring that we maximise our efforts to achieve the positive educational outcomes that we expect.
The work program is based on five main aims and is developed and overseen in conjunction with our partners.
The aims are:
A SCHOOL ATTTENDANCE To work with community leaders to encourage all school-aged children in a designated area of rural northern Cambodia to attend school through provision of school materials, uniforms and transport.
B TEACHER SUPPORT AND DEVELOPMENT To support school principals and classroom teachers by funding attendance at professional development courses and providing teaching aids.
C FACILITIES FOR BETTER EDUCATIONAL OUTCOMES To undertake school improvement works in conjunction with local communities, which will provide improved learning conditions.
D HEALTH AND SAFETY To undertake health and safety-related school improvement works and provide students with health-related advice and materials.
E SECONDARY SCHOOL To examine ways to support children moving through secondary school. In recognition of the importance of the program being undertaken in partnership with the school and the local community, an additional element is undertaking work to strengthen relationships between the groups.
The Annual Work Program
Each year Children of Cambodia Directors visit our schools on two separate occasions to implement the agreed work program for the year. The program is developed in conjunction with the school principals and Support Committees and village representatives. It is approved by the Foundation Board and a budget set.
The primary visit occurs in October/November, the beginning of the Cambodian school year. During this visit school stationery materials, uniforms and bikes are purchased locally and distributed as follows:
one workbook and one pencil to Grade Prep students
three workbooks and one pencil/pen to Grade 1, 2 and 3 students
four workbooks (one per subject) and one pen to Grade 4, 5 and 6 students
one uniform to all Prep, Grade 1 and Grade 4 students
bikes to children from needy families as identified by the school principals
The second visit takes place in March or April. The main purpose of this visit is to oversee the non-recurrent parts of the agreed program for the year – school improvement works such as the building of classrooms, schoolyard paving, installation of wind ventilators and other building maintenance or the purchase of equipment such as computers and printers. As occurs with the stationery and bikes, materials are purchased locally. The school improvement works are undertaken by a local builder with the assistance of village labour. The local purchase of materials and the involvement of villagers is an important part of our strategy. It assists the local economy and strengthens the partnerships with local communities
Deductible Gift Recipient Status
The ability to obtain a tax deduction for a donation to charity is important to many, if not all, donors. In 2015 we were fortunate to be able to establish a relationship with the Rotary Club of Croydon who were prepared to sponsor our work as an overseas project under the auspices of Rotary Australia World Community Services (RAWCS). This allowed donors to claim a tax deduction for their donation through RAWCS’ official Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status. We were extremely appreciative of the support of Croydon Rotary, but we realised that to ensure tax deductibility sustainability we needed to achieve DGR status in our own right. In 2018 we applied to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) for tax deductibility under the Overseas Aid Gift Deduction Scheme (OAGDS). We had already obtained registration with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission in 2014 and we were confident that our application would be successful. The application process was comprehensive and in February 2020 we finally received notice that our OAGDS DGR status had been gazetted in the Australian Government Gazette. Achieving DGR status has been one of the highlights of the 2019/20 financial year.