NGOs struggling to tap funding opportunities today met businesses that want to give something back to their community but do not know how to.

The meeting marks three years from the launch of the President’s Foundation for the Wellbeing of Society, which is one of the first initiatives that President Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca embarked on when she took office in 2014.

People are actually talking about the pillars of wellbeing – mainly mental and physical health, relationships, economic stability and the environment.

The idea behind the foundation is that there can be no peace without well-being, the director general, Ruth Farrugia, told this newspaper ahead of today’s panel discussion on corporate social responsibility.

The foundation, which is run by a 14-strong team, excluding experts and volunteers, is peace-centred and aims to identify, promote and nurture well-being.

Over the past three years, Dr Farrugia has seen a lot of changes, with the foundation having a clearer idea of where it is headed.

However, the biggest change she has noticed is that the idea of wellbeing is catching on among the public, and people are actually talking about its pillars – mainly mental and physical health, relationships, economic stability and the environment.

Among others, the foundation provides similar-cause NGOs with a space where they can come together, supplement their social capital and networking skills and helps them to understand their rights.

But a large part of the foundation’s efforts are invested in research – some of which has been cited in European reports and shared internationally. Studies vary from safeguarding local heirloom to problematic internet use among young people.

Today’s event was organised in collaboration with Core Platform (Corporate Citizenship for Responsible Enterprises), set up by the President in 2015.

The idea behind this seminar was to bring together NGOs and the public and private sectors, and show that when they join forces, wellbeing could actually be improved.

“We kept being told by NGOs:  how do you make contact with companies and ask them for cash? It’s really uncomfortable. So we thought of bringing together private companies, the public sector and NGOs,” Dr Farrugia explained.

Dr Farrugia urged smaller NGOs to target community-based businesses, as part of the reason why they found it difficult to tap funding was because they targeted bigger companies, which of course, were after more exposure.

On the other hand, a small business in a community might be more disposed to support a small NGO helping that particular community.

“Small- and medium-sized companies should also be socially responsible. Matching the smaller NGOs with the smaller companies might work.”

One project where such partnerships worked is Volunteer  Sliema, kicked off recently by the Core Platform and SOS Malta, which will see elderly residents with mobility issues driving electric scooters around the town free of charge.

The team effort includes the private and public sectors and is supported by St James Capua Hospital and the Sliema local council.

Underlying the foundation’s efforts are the global sustainable development goals, which NGOs and the public sector should also have a stake in it. Dr Farrugia hopes these goals will also be brought up for discussion today.

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