Charitable donating is an emotional activity, an act of conscience, feelings, care, hope! It is not a cognitive, rational, logical act, because logic tells us that only a minority part of our donation is used to benefit the intended recipient. We also know that the larger and more international the charity, the smaller is the actual donation reaching the recipient. Conversely we also know that the smaller and more local the charity, the GREATER is the actual donation reaching the recipient. I hope you are still with me, because this is a very very important lesson for DFID who need to reflect and learn from the Oxfam scandal which is about much more than sexual perversion and Aid. It is about trust, faith and ….. integrity between the British people and a government department we trust …… or don’t trust.
Let me be clear from the outset, I do NOT trust DFID! They are incompetent and immoral at the absolute root of the organisation and oversight has clearly been lacking in the case of Oxfam at least. Their support of only mega charities is an absolute slap in the face to all of the smaller U.K. charities who tirelessly and efficiently work around the globe, often surviving on minimal funds and maximum personal effort.
How many small, efficient, effective, ethical, focused uk charities do you think DFID support either via funding or via in-country support? I’m going to take a stab at answering this myself ……… none! I’ll reword my answer to make it clear, I believe that DFID policy is deliberately avoiding small and highly efficient charities who do outstanding work all over the world. I can think of no rationale for this other than it being caused by sheer arrogance and organisational laziness. Take Nepal for example, a country we helped to develop 200 schools and 2000 teachers in a 10 year period using local staff and small U.K. donations. We also conducted research into quality education and tools for school development, ran leadership programmes for school principals and offered expertise from the U.K. in education system change. We worked with parents, teachers and school management committees bringing them together in a holistic school development programme. In all that time we had one meeting with a part time DFID employee and plenty of others which were cancelled or requests refused. We know of other extremely successful U.K. charities working in education and health in Nepal who have had similar experiences and who now see DFID as part of the problem, an organisation to be avoided at all costs, and one that disrupts the local economy with its inflated salaries and support for NGOs that do the same.
Ending overseas aid is not the answer to this sort of problem, but DFID needs to take a long hard look at itself and ask self directed questions about efficiency, focus, and its “value for money” effect compared with that of smaller U.K. charities they should be supporting, but who they won’t even talk to!
But sadly, this isn’t going to happen as we all know. There will be an investigation of Oxfam and sacrificial heads will roll, but the whole rotten system won’t change as a reply we received from Alan Duncan at DFID in 2013 shows. They won’t engage in dialogue, they have no professional curiosity, and have no interest whatsoever in hardworking and successful British charities where upscaling the successful ones could transform a nations education, healthcare, living conditions ………. They have become part of the problem!