The past year saw many successes in the areas of fundraising and implementation of projects. Unfortunately, Free Press Unlimited’s financial year of 2018 was characterised by a lack of funding for two large projects. For Radio Dabanga and Radio Tamazuj we did not raise sufficient funds, while costs continued.
By now, both projects are fully covered again, but in 2018 they strongly and negatively affected our financial results. 2018 was a successful third year for the Strategic Partnership with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The same goes for the Russian Language News Exchange and the Syria programme, which are supported by the Swedish development organisation Sida.
Radio Dabanga’s financial woes began in 2017 and lasted until May 2018. From then on, the project received full funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2018, Free Press Unlimited spent €350,000 of its own resources to make sure the project, which spans a decade and provides lifesaving information to 2 million people every day, could continue. Since Free Press Unlimited does not have sufficient reserves to contribute for a third year, we are extremely pleased that funding has been found for the coming years. Since January 1, 2019, Radio Tamazuj is also fully funded. In 2018, Free Press Unlimited contributed a total of €275,000 to maintain the radio station.
All in all, we are content with the fact that we kept the operating deficit limited to €196,108. This does mean that our continuity reserves have dipped below our norm of 70% of operating costs. Given the amount of grants that have been pledged until the end of 2020, we deem this acceptable. In 2018 we raised slightly more than 10 million in project funding, with contracts lasting between 10 months and three years. The same amount has been pledged and signed for in the early beginnings of 2019. These pledges should help us rise above the norm again in coming years. The operating deficit has been subtracted from the continuity reserve which amounts to just over €2 million. Our policy is for our continuity reserve to contain between 70% and 150%
of the operating costs. At the end of 2018, the reserve stood at 68%.
The total income for 2018 was about €1.5 million less than the budgeted €14,347,740. The main cause for this is that we did not secure new funding from other non- profit organisations. We included about €1 million in projects in the budget, but these never materialised.
Unfortunately the income from businesses was also less than the amount in the budget. To a lesser extent the same is true for government grants and lottery organisations. Relatively speaking, income from private individuals rose sharply, thanks in part to a crowdfunding campaign for Radio Dabanga. We hope this trend continues as it’s a healthy diversification of income and direct support from the public has intrinsic value. Obtaining funding for our activities after 2020 shows up high in our risk analysis. After 2020, a number of large donor contracts will expire. This includes the Strategic Partnership. Our current fundraising capacities are therefore fully focused on securing income for the period after. Other risks, such as working in conflict areas, are much lower because our experience in the field enables us to better control them.