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People and Politics Forum 11. 02. 2008

"Should charity fund raisers receive fees?"

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More information:

UNICEF Germany - A Charity Organisation Is Accused of Mismanagement

Thousands of donors are turning their backs on the German branch of the largest charity organisation for children world wide. Volunteers are refusing to go out collecting and prominent goodwill ambassadors are aghast after reports of funding abuses and mismanagement at its highest levels here in Germany. Shortcomings that could have consequences for children in need the world over. We report on a charity organisation with a serious image problem.

Our Question is:

"Should charity fund raisers receive fees?"

Gerhard Seeger, The Philippines, writes:

"No. Instead of focussing on the main objective, namely the assistance of those in need, too many charity organisations are busy competing with each other, adopting marketing strategies to raise funds. And that costs money. The extent to which organisations can make money out of poverty and the goodwill of donors was demonstrated twenty years ago in Graham Hancock's "Lords of Poverty". Even back then "aid organisations" used 80% of the donations for themselves, with inflated salaries, expenses. Are there now to be paid incentives too? UNICEF and ALL aid organisations need to be thoroughly checked (...)."

Herbert Fuchs, Finland:

"The children's aid organisation, UNICEF, should not be too heavily attacked, even when incompetent employees have been responsible for serious errors in this instance. Those children in need of help around the world will be the hardest hit if people stop donating to the fund. Better controls on expenditure are clearly needed in this instance, therein lies the problem. The fact is that fraud occurs wherever big sums of money are involved. It's an age-old phenomenon that occurred well before 2008 and the problems with UNICEF. (...) Donation collectors should be volunteers. That would be the best advertisement for organisations like this, which are trying to help poor children in the world to have a future. The greedy consultants to these organisations should also be dispensed with."

Uyanga Delger, Mongolia:

"I understand that for certain professional services, incentives do need to be paid. But international organisations need to be open to greater monitoring by the public and by external auditors. (...) In my country, for example, most international aid organisations make no effort to publish annual reports or expert surveys in Mongolian. In this situation how can the public know what's going on? This practice has to change."

Walter Stoewe, USA:

"Charity fund raisers in the US have been pocketing incentives for their work for years, because the law allows it. Charities here are a very profitable business. Hopefully there will soon be new laws implemented here and in Europe to put a stop to these deceitful practices. Until then we won't be donating another cent."

Werner Horbaty, Nicaragua:

"Organisations which collect funds for the sick or the needy are doing a very good job. They really should receive additional money from, in this instance, the German state. This will allow them to help even more and give opportunities to people with a lack of education. There is a saying: knowledge is power and power is knowledge."

Claus Stauffenberg, Australia:

"Charity organisations are often not completely innocent in the distribution of donations. Indeed some of these organisations are simply fraudulent and prey on the goodwill of people. They use the donations for purposes other than those stated or even for harmful purposes. Governments should be scrutinising these NGOs and people should think twice before handing over their own cash to a seemingly good cause. The best help you can give is with your own efforts, not your money."

Erwin Scholz, Costa Rica:

"Collecting donations for children on the streets for no pay and consultants doing the work for peanuts? Now that would be something different."

K.C. Lazar, Indonesia:

"Yes, but it has to reasonable, on par with what a public sector worker would get for the same amount of work. Fundraising is the most difficult task of any charity organisation. It is a laborious, ongoing work which involves tedious planning and execution. To sell the concept and convince donors one has to be skilled and competent. A lot of work is required."

The "People and Politics" editorial team reserves the right to edit correspondence.