The Global Fund for Forgotten People expands capacity and heightens impact for the Order of Malta’s worldwide work. As the Fund awards its 500th grant, we spoke with Founder and Chief Executive Lisa Sanchez-Corea Simpson about the organisation’s role in facilitating donors’ support of the Order and effective distribution of funds around the world.

What is the role of the Global Fund for Forgotten People?

The Fund was established to enable members and friends of the Order of Malta to support its global humanitarian work in a direct, transparent and tax-efficient way. Our flexibility is key: we remain in close contact with programme leadership, giving us insight into realities on the ground and keeping us agile to respond to needs as they arise. The Fund fuels the Order’s mission, collaborating with the Order’s humanitarian programmes fostering sustainability, effectiveness and always pursuing best practices, and making our network of projects available to international donors.

Tell us more about the Fund’s 505 grants. What kinds of work have they supported?

Our grants have enabled entities of the Order to help over one million people in 88 countries. Over 150 of our grant awards have innovated new areas of Order work. Others represent investment in established activities – the West African hospitals of Ordre de Malte France, the global work of Malteser International – but many focus on unlocking the potential of small neighbourhood soup kitchens, elderly clubs and kindergartens.

We make medical care a possibility for thousands of the poorest people around the world, and we hear stories from individuals whose lives have been transformed by the daily commitment of the Order’s grassroots community works. This range reflects the Order’s unique character, and maintaining it is vital to preserving our strength and presence.

What can the Order’s work offer to private donors? 

The Order’s programmes are a potent tool for social change, attuned to contemporary need and informed by centuries of experience. We respond to local challenges with global resources. Our political neutrality summons significant trust at institutional and human levels. Many of our programmes are volunteer-run, making them highly efficient in confronting social problems. Wherever a donor wishes to help, the Order is likely already there, serving with dedication and authentic love.

You describe the Fund as a catalyst in the Order, can you explain that?

The Fund ignites innovation and collaboration between Order entities. We work closely with a range of Order programmes, together endeavouring to unlock conversations and provide fresh solutions. Our broad network allows us to collaborate with grantees and share technology, fundraising and communications techniques to promote sustainability for our partners, supporting them to meet the evolving needs of marginalised communities. We often describe the Order as “modern by tradition” – I see the Fund as testament to the Order’s ability to renew its mission of service to the poor and the sick today and every day.

What are your most memorable experiences of the Order’s work?

I could list so many – our kitchen in South Korea feeding the homeless and impoverished, our work addressing the mounting needs of the refugee crisis in Cyprus, our care homes and centres providing meals to a desperately poor elderly community in Cuba, our rich and varied work serving disadvantaged groups in Lebanon. I am always inspired by the Order’s International Holiday Camps for young people with disabilities; it is wonderful to see the energy and enthusiasm of our young volunteers, the amazing experiences they create, and their indefatigable determinations to make the impossible possible for our guests. The Order’s work is incredibly diverse, but there is a common thread – the way in which the work is done, with sincere love, both of the work and for those we serve.

As the Fund approaches the end of its first decade, how does it feel to reflect on its development?

It has been immensely rewarding to watch the Fund grow out of the conversation of the leadership of the Order into an incredibly powerful tool maximising the impact of its humanitarian work. I am continually aware of the privilege of representing the Order and by the achievement of those that conceived the Fund, those who brought it to life and those who make it a reality today: our team, our partners and all those who support us. We anticipate with eagerness our next 500 grants, and the care and service they will provide for Forgotten People around the world.