Monday, 12 March 2007

Comic relief?

It started last week; continuing each night this week at least one hour of BBC1 programming will be devoted to the Comic Relief fundraising event. It will culminate on Friday night with an eight hour spectacular.

In 2006 £30.7 million was collected and the costs of generating the funds was reported at £6.8 million. Fundraising costs of 22% is good compared to some charities. It is unclear from published accounts whether TV production costs are included.

Two questions:
How much do all the TV events cost? How are the programs funded?

I have no answer. All I know is for nearly a month, there has been a TV Production Village encamped on the south side of the old GLC County Hall, London, producing Comic Relief programs.

Setting aside the Comic Relief organization, how affective are charities in providing sustainable benefits to beneficiaries?

Firstly how much money actually gets through to the targeted groups?

In general 20% or more is spent on fundraising. Another 50% can be spent on administration and management costs. So for every £1 collected about 20 ~ 30p is spent directly for the benefit of the targeted group. At least some money gets through to make peoples lives more bearable, raises the standard of living and improves the quality of life.

Unfortunately worldwide, with respect to community development projects, 90% of all projects FAIL. So for every £1 donated only 3p is spent effectively! What a waste. But why the high failure rate? There are many reasons:

Incorrect projects. A charity or aid organization visits a village; they consult with the locals and then decide what will benefit the village. Notice the Outsiders take the decisions - so from the very start villagers do not have a sense of ownership. In the absence of ownership there is no commitment to making the project succeed - that remains with the Outsiders. Far too often the problem being addressed is incorrectly identified or an inappropriate solution chosen.

For example a charity dedicated to providing water supply to villages set up a program to assist 9 villages. They brought in their drilling equipment and a drilled well and installed a pump in each village. Within six months all the wells were abandoned. Why, surely providing a clean supply of water was a worthwhile project that would benefit all the villagers? The Charity failed to notice the layout of the villages. They were not made up of closely located dwellings; rather the houses were dotted along river banks and in the forest. So a central well only served less than 10% of the community. 90% of the villagers continued to get their water from the rivers and streams.

There was a problem existing in the village. But it wasn’t a shortage of water; rather it was the poor health of the children due to water born diseases. Rather than an expensive well drilling program, all that was required was a campaign to encourage the villagers to boil their drinking water.

Even when the correct project is chosen, they fail. Returning to the well project, no one was made responsible for the maintenance of the pumps and no spare parts were provided. Far too often sufficient funds are made available to cover the costs of setting up a project, with no consideration given to the ongoing maintenance and operating costs. Hospitals are built and equipped and left empty because either there is no trained staff or there is no money to pay their salaries. X- ray equipment breaks down, but there are no trained technicians to repair or if there are technicians no money to buy spares.

Roads are built for villages. Would villagers in the UK be able to organise to maintain their roads? Yet aid organizations build roads in poor villages in Africa, South America and Asia and then expect the villagers to find the finances to maintain them.

Do I give to charities that provide aid to Third World counties? What do you think?


dowelld said...

Yesbut old chap

I agree that it's about time the people who are in the crap were given the chance to find their way out, instead of us constantly telling them what they need.

Yes But said...

"We know best."

"Be grateful we take time to tell you what to do."

70% of DIFID’s budget is spent in the UK.

When I was in the Community Development “game”; and it really is a game, I would go ballistic when an Expatriate Consultant earning more in a day than villagers earn in 3 months would talk patronisingly to the leaders of communities (as if they were stupid little children). The villagers had more dignity in their little finger than the clowns earning megabucks.

Steph Lealman said...

The UK is one of the most richest countries in the world, I think that it must have gone to our heads - And in the USA, espcially in the 20th and 21st century you can find evidence of the Western 'civilisation' butting in and messing things up - Splitting Palistine up without asking to create Israel, then not doing anything when the Jews took more land than they were designated - leaving the Palistinians with no decent land to grow food, etc... on, and even now they take the Jews side against the Muslim threat who fight with 'terrorist' ways, because the all powerful west don't want to admit it's their fault in the first place.
Then there's history with the countries Britain so masterfully turned into colonies and bossed around, etc...
Sure some of the governments in the third worlds aren't that forthcoming with the west helping out and the funds don't get spend right because of that as well as the ill planned projects organized, But the UK isn't exactly a great example of what a rich country should be, health care, education, roads, employment, etc.. it's all a joke, even if loads of immigrants still come hoping for a better life, (ha!) - And not that the USA really seems to care that much about the third world anyway, but for the most powerful country in the world they haven't even managed to do much about the destruction Katrina left in New Orleans!
Okay, my rant is over now, and though at college I've helped raise money for charities, whether I donate to stuff on TV like Comic Relief Fame Acadamy...Well that's for you to decide.