For as long as there has been two sister charities based here at the Sanctuary in Devon, potential for confusion amongst supporters as to which charity does what and how donations are divided has existed. The reality is that the separately registered charities The Donkey Sanctuary and The Elisabeth Svendsen Trust for Children and Donkeys (affectionately known as EST) have always worked closely side by side and the donkeys have always benefited from working with the children and adults as much as the children and adults have benefited from their association with the donkeys. The donkeys living at the EST Centres have always had their care provided by The Donkey Sanctuary and both charities shared a number of staff and functions as well as having worked together on events and promotions. It was against this background that early last year our founder, Dr Svendsen, discussed with the Trustees of both charities the possibility of merging EST into its larger sister, The Donkey Sanctuary, a dream of hers for many years.
A month before Dr S sadly passed away both Trustee Boards advised her that they were happy to explore the possibility of merging the two charities, subject to Charity Commission approval. In these challenging economic times there were a number of reasons why both charities would benefit from merging, including:
- Savings can be made through removing duplication of work in the administration and general operating activities of each charity.
- Many of our supporters already think of us as one charity. The individual EST Centres (in Belfast, Birmingham, Ivybridge, Leeds, Manchester and Sidmouth) are thought by many to be part of The Donkey Sanctuary and if you live near one of our Centres, or are visiting the area, you are welcome to visit the donkeys for some hands on donkey time.
- It further demonstrates the benefit of donkeys and mules to humanity not only in the UK but also in less advantaged parts of the world.
We understand that some supporters preferred their donations to go towards funding specific parts of the work of The Donkey Sanctuary or EST, and this can continue even though the two charities have merged. For many years Donkey Sanctuary supporters have always been able to direct their donations to an area of our work if they so wished and this will be expanded to include assisted riding therapy activities but, of course, it is hoped that most will continue to donate into our general fund for all Donkey Sanctuary activities within the enlarged charity.
We are happy to report that the merging of EST into The Donkey Sanctuary took effect from 1st January, 2012; it is only a shame that Dr Svendsen after wishing it for so many years is not here today to see her dream come true.