The Salvation Army is facing a slump in donations to its flagship fundraising drive after an inquiry’s revelations of terrible sexual abuse of children in its care.
Donations to the Red Shield Appeal Doorknock in May are down an estimated 20 per cent this year.
Spokesman Major Bruce Harmer said the evidence heard at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was a key factor.
The church expects to fall 20 per cent or $2 million short of its $10 million target for the doorknock held on May 24 and 25.
It also expects to miss the $80 million target of the broader Red Shield Appeal, which includes corporate and other donations.
“We are going to be between 10 and 15 per cent down overall on our target,” Major Harmer said.
“Certainly the royal commission and the allegations of abuse that have been shared there have been a major contributing factor.”
He said the drop in donations could also be attributed to the tough federal budget handed down two weeks before the doorknock and to good weather, which meant many people were not home.
Major Harmer said volunteers had encountered some people who said they would not donate because of the revealed abuse.
“There were people who made those comments, but there weren’t a significant number of those,” he said.
Volunteers were briefed on answers and given explanatory brochures to offer to people who asked about the abuse, he said.
The Salvation Army has apologised profoundly for abuse suffered by children at homes it ran in Queensland and NSW in the 1960s and 1970s.
Major Harmer said he was hoping donations would recover in coming years to enable the church to continue its charitable and social works.
Members of the public “have been absolutely bewildered by the allegations of abuse but also want to support the good work the Salvation Army does,” he said.
The final 2014 result will be known in mid-July.