Since the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) was founded in April 2014, we have assisted over 27,000 people through our SAR operations. These people have been forced to risk their lives at sea in the hope of finding a better life.

As the first privately-funded organisation of its type in the Central Mediterranean, we have been proud to demonstrate the important role that private NGOs and civil society can play in the face of humanitarian crises.

Yet when it comes to fundraising, our ‘privately-funded’ status has brought specific challenges. The difficulty of maintaining sustainability as a growing organisation – in part because of the uncertainty of sourcing donors and securing re-giving– has meant that, at times, our income can be difficult to predict.

While we are currently focusing on securing more sustainable and predictable income through grants, CSR, and outsourced fundraising, our SAR operations continue to be very expensive - something IMRF member organisations will recognize.

In an environment where there is a need for far more institutional support, at times we have been forced to look elsewhere. Crucially, we have been able to supplement our funding through the donations, expertise and support of other SAR organisations.

As MOAS has expanded, there have been moments when we have needed equipment and specialists at extremely short notice. Thankfully, the IMRF and the community of SAR organisations have supported us in sourcing the equipment and specialists we need.

The Emergency Rescue and Recovery Corps Malta loaned equipment and rescue swimmers. Likewise, Lagan SAR, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, and Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, have all provided us with rescue swimmers, who are often central to our rescues. For a time, Merit provided us with medics.

Donations of equipment have been equally important. We have received 3 Seaflex Centifloats from Unique Group, which have been deployed on a number of occasions and have been key in preventing many drownings. We have also received a number of Jason’s Cradle scramble nets, while the Swedish Sea Rescue Society have provided SAR inflatable lifejackets.

The Galicia Coast Guard officials, who are part of EURORSA, have also donated a helicopter rescue sling. All of this equipment has greatly contributed to our life-saving capabilities.

As our operations become ever more complex, so the challenges of fundraising continue. Yet as we have grown, the support of other SAR organisations through the sharing of equipment and expertise has gone some way to mitigating the challenges we have faced as a privately-funded organisation.

Currently, we have a partnership with Red Cross Italy, with their staff fulfilling a vital role on board our ships, providing post-rescue medical and psychosocial care. The network and community of SAR organisations, brought together by the IMRF, has allowed us to act on our central belief, shared by all SAR organisations – that no-one deserves to die at sea.

Despite all this, our central SAR costs – for example, charter fees and crew salaries – remain a challenge. We continue to reach out to partners interested in supporting or funding our work. For more information, please contact us at [email protected].  

Photo Credit: Kenny Karpov/ 2016