TIMA Charitable Foundation: 10 Years of support for the elderly in Greece

TIMA Charitable Foundation: 10 Years of support for the elderly in Greece

by Paul Kidner – Advisor at TIMA Charitable Foundation.

The TIMA Charitable Foundation was established in 2011 in memory of John M. Carras and his wife Athina Carras. Personal experience brought the difficulties that can stem from ageing and elderly care to the fore and sensitized the family to these issues, especially among those less privileged and vulnerable. As such, the Foundation was established with a mission to support the development of Greek nonprofit programs dedicated to social improvement in the field of ageing in Greece.  

As a philanthropic organization, the TIMA Charitable Foundation directs grants to nonprofit organizations active in Greece. The Foundation mainly awards grants in the areas of social welfare and health care, and overwhelmingly for disadvantaged sectors of society. Grants may also be provided in the fields of education, arts and culture, specifically in relation to issues regarding the elderly in Greece. On a macro-level, TIMA evaluates the operations and management of every potential grantee. On a micro-level, the Foundation reviews every project through the prism of sustainability, encouraging NGOs to examine the viability of their programs wherever possible. 

The TIMA Charitable Foundation establishes its philanthropic goals and subsequently develops strategies for achieving them on an annual basis. It is also quick to react to crisis situations as in the case of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020, which saw the creation of an additional emergency fund. This included 4 large projects across the spectrum to support PPE in hospitals, PPE and disinfectants in care-homes, the ramp-up and production of 50,000 face-shields and the protection and support of isolated elderly individuals. 

The Foundation identifies potential grantees as well as strategic partners who are interested in sharing the implementation of its common goals. The grant-awarding process – from a review of strategy development, through initiation of grants, to monitoring of progress and evaluation of results – involves effective cooperation and communication among the Foundation, its grantees, and other collaborating parties.

Since TIMA’s establishment, the Foundation has consistently encouraged collaborations and synergies amongst its grantees and always looks to amplify the benefits of the grants that it makes. It is particularly significant when a grant has multiplier effects that transfer positively to either the grantee organization or its beneficiaries. TIMA remains committed to sharing know-how and best practices to deepen the impact of its grants as well as to creating networking opportunities for its beneficiary non-profit organizations. 

Over the past 10 years, TIMA has made more than 240 grants with a focus on issues related to the elderly (identified as 65 years of age and over). Greece has an ageing population that is growing faster than almost all other EU countries and the proportion of the elderly among the total population in Greece is 21.3%, compared to the EU mean of 19.2%. Despite this fact, or maybe because of these rapid demographic changes, society has been slow to respond to the growing needs of this sector. TIMA’s Board therefore, felt there was an urgent need and responsibility to focus on the plight of a significant part of an already vulnerable sector of the Greek population. 

TIMA Statistics: 

  • TIMA has supported more than 146,000 beneficiaries in total
  • More than 79,000 elderly beneficiaries have been positively impacted
  • 96% of grants have gone towards social welfare and health 
  • More than 8,500 elderly beneficiaries have received food supplies
  • Grants have been made in 28 out of 51 prefectures throughout Greece


TIMA’s philanthropic activity has been wide-ranging across four main sectors including Ageing and Disability, Ageing and Health, Care Home Support and Care-at-Home programs. 

These sectors showcase (some of) the principal areas of the Foundation’s grant making, especially in the past few years. However, TIMA’s entire grant making spectrum is much broader and always responsive and adaptable to changing needs. 

Ageing and Disability

Older people experience disability in different ways. Some have a pre-existing disability whilst others may have acquired a disability as a result of the ageing process. The elderly that have disabilities are more vulnerable than the general ageing population, especially during economic crises and health crises such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Increased vulnerability has led older disabled people to rely heavily on others to provide appropriate support. Moreover, people ageing with disability may also be inadvertently excluded from particular services due to limited funding sources and restrictive program requirements. 

In the current environment, it is increasingly challenging to find either family or professionally trained caregivers to support older adults with disabilities. Through its grants, the TIMA Charitable Foundation has funded, and continues to fund, initiatives that fulfill the needs of older disabled individuals, and that build a culture of inclusion, whereby quality of care and quality of life can ultimately be improved.

Ageing and Health 

As people age, they require more support with respect to their health and become more at risk of developing age-related degenerative and chronic diseases. Presently, most people can expect to live well into their seventies and beyond. Recent data, moreover, indicates that Greece holds one of the highest ageing rates in Europe. The percentage of the elderly population in Greece has increased significantly in the last decade, and is higher than the EU average, with one in four Greeks over 65 years old. The predominance of these issues has fueled the need to reinforce the general health of the ageing population. It is an area that TIMA will continue to contribute to through its annual grant making. 

A person’s longer life expectancy, and more specifically that person’s quality of health, has a fundamental effect on his or her contribution to society. According to the World Health Organization, while it is often assumed that increasing longevity is complemented by a prolonged period of good health, this is unfortunately not always the case. Hence, if effort is made to improve the general health of the older population, their quality of life improves, and local community participation rises.

Care Home Support

Due to the latest economic crisis and the recent pandemic, vulnerable groups such as the elderly have been amongst those most affected. In the last decade, many care homes in Greece have experienced a fiscal squeeze. As a result, this has forced them to minimize or even cease crucial investments, namely in infrastructure, equipment and expansion of their programs. The majority of care homes are also unable to offer a holistic approach to the care of their elderly residents through the provision of services such as psychological support and recreational activities. This lack of stimuli drives many elderly people towards social isolation, a phenomenon that through its grants, TIMA seeks to alleviate. 

The strategy behind the support for care homes is to supply basic needs with grants that include for example, the provision of food, medical supplies, and equipment. In addition to this, TIMA encourages capacity building programs where possible. By rethinking and reinventing the way care homes operate, the ultimate goal is to provide higher quality and more personalized care for the elderly. Capacity building may also include elements of staff training and empowerment, making care homes a place where employees wish to work, thereby reducing staff turnover. In this way, long-term meaningful interaction and engagement with the elderly can be achieved.

Care at Home Programs

In recent years, the demand for care at home programs for persons with dementia has increased, not just because the number of individuals with dementia has risen (a worldwide phenomenon), but because research has shown that a person-centered care approach eases dementia-related mental and behavioral symptoms. At the same time, care at home programs aim to ease the load on the individual’s primary caregiver, while giving them useful knowledge and tools that make caring for the person with dementia more manageable. The Foundation has funded several care at home programs for persons with dementia and other chronic illnesses, as well as their caregivers, throughout Greece. These programs help individuals with dementia live at home as long as possible and avoid institutionalization. Each care at home program is unique, but all are composed of health professionals who visit the care recipients at home on a regular basis, offering nursing services, physical therapy, psychological and psychiatric support, as well as cognitive training through mental strengthening exercises. Additional elements of some programs also include assistance with light housework, cooking and occupational therapy interventions that optimize the home environment for the maximal wellness of the person with dementia. Lastly, while these care at home programs may vary in duration, all have as their goal to train the caregiver as well as possible in order to be able to deal with the various stages of dementia as the disease takes its course.  In Greece, about 130,000 individuals are diagnosed with dementia, whilst research points to many thousands more undiagnosed cases. 

The above are the four main pillars of TIMA’s grant making, covering some of the most pressing needs of the elderly in Greece. However, the Foundation reviews every grant request on its individual merits and is also quick to adapt to a changing environment where necessary. 

The Third Age in Greece, in numbers:

  • 22% of the population is aged 65+ (ELSTAT, 2020)
  • 21% of people 65+ are at risk of poverty (ELSTAT, 2020)
  • 30% of people 65+ report poor health (ELSTAT, 2020)
  • 69% of people 65+ suffer from chronic illnesses (ELSTAT, 2020)
  • 62% of people 65+ have some form of disability (Eurostat, 2018)
  • 129,000 people have been diagnosed with Dementia (ELSTAT, 2020). 
  • There are 2,482,000 pensioners in Greece
  • The average monthly pension in Greece is €820
  • 77% of people 65+ receive a median pension of €643 euro (all from IDIKA, 2020)

TIMA in Greece: An overview

Greece has the highest share of population aged 65+ among EU member states and conversely, the lowest share of spending on long-term care, as a percentage of overall health spending. Recent figures show that Greece allocated less than 0.2% of GDP to long-term care, far below the EU average of 1.5%, leading to limitations in services provided. In 2020, for example, for every 100,000 inhabitants there were fewer than 1 long-term care beds in nursing and residential care facilities, ranking Greece the lowest among EU member states. The fact that there is no central government service for long-term care creates further challenges in terms of representation and the coordination of issues to do with the elderly at the state level. This partly explains why close relatives have taken on the very large burden of family care and why NGOs form such a vital contribution to care of the elderly in the country. 

More than half a million elderly report that they have difficulty with personal care activities with almost two thirds requiring personal assistance. (OECD, 2020) 

TIMA Charitable Foundation will continue to serve its mission by supporting as many of both the critical and non-critical needs of the elderly in Greece, with its focus on enriching the lives and welfare of those most vulnerable in our society.