Is this your cry? Or are you thinking you would like to support 'someone', but have heard these rumours?
What are NGO's?
NGO's (Non-Government Organisations) are a mix of organisations that have various purposes. Commonly they are; formed voluntarily, independent of government, not for profit or gain and they aim to improve the circumstances of disadvantaged people.
As NGO's work on the front line, they provide a necessary and critical voice about the implementation of international aid.
Financially the NGO sector is tiny, out of Australia's $4.3 billion 2010/2011 aid budget, only $135 million is allocated to NGOs and community engagement programs, this amounts to a mere 2.5%. (www.aidwatch.org.au)
In the 2008-09 period, Australian NGOs received just over $800 million in private donations. This makes up 73% of total funds raised by NGOs. Private donations include Australians supporting overseas aid and development NGOs as regular donors, by supporting a fund raiser event, or giving a one-off donation. (www.aidwatch.org.au)
AusAid – the Governments' part
On the Australian Government AusAid website (www.ausaid.gov.au) they declare: "Funding decisions are guided by individual countries' development priorities, an assessment of poverty, Australia's capacity to make a real and measurable difference and our national interest."
There has been much speculation and debate about AusAid in reference to it's political interest wrapped up in foreign aid. Despite this, the current foreign aid from the Australian Government is making a difference.
In the Governments' summary of the program for 2011/2012 it stated it was: Expanding volunteer and NGO programs to provide for 1,000 Australian volunteers per year by 2013-14 and double the AusAID-NGO Cooperation Program by 2014-15, to allow a further 10 NGOs to participate in the program.
Who to donate to?
It is very important to research carefully before deciding which organisation is best to donate to. You can learn more by checking their websites.
Some important issues to find out about before donating:
- What is the NGO's policy on being accountable?
- Do they allow communities to participate in their own projects?
- Are they aware of environmental sustainability, accountability and human rights as core values?
- Is the NGO aligned with a code of conduct/ ethical standards body? (eg- Missions Interlink, Fundraising Institute of Australia or Australian Council for International Development, or the like.)
- With emergency relief situations - has the NGO been active in the affected area? This indicates there will be long term support, which is very important for recovery.
Most of the organisations are extremely transparent, with their websites showing how the money is actually dispersed. PriceWaterhouseCoopers also annually audit organisations and hold Transparency Awards. With a simple search of a few organisations known to me, I found pie charts and statistics.
The percentage of donations and sponsorship going direct to projects were; World Vision Australia 81.2%, Compassion Australia 79.74%, Oxfam 74%, CBM Australia 72.1% and Save the Children 70.1%. This is just a snapshot of the many NGO's of Australia. The rest of the funds are needed for administration and fund raising.
There are always going to be administration and fund raising costs associated with NGO's. Majority do an amazing job facilitating and being stewards of the funds that are so generously given to them to continue the work of reducing global poverty.
We need to advocate justice, provide help for the poor and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 31 verse 8) and against those who deprive the poor of their rights (Isaiah 10 verse 2 NIV). This commitment to justice is an act of love (Micah 6 verse 8).
Belinda Croft is married to Russell and she has a son BJ, 12 years. Currently Belinda is studying a Bachelor Degree in Journalism. She has a passion for God, writing, creativity, mission and social justice.
Belinda Croft's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/belinda-croft.html