Ask before you give!

NGOs

Illustration by Kate Charlesworth

Principles

If you want to support an organization, rather than a specific appeal, have you considered:

Fundraising

More money doesn’t always make for a better NGO. The way funds are raised is critical to its nature.

Campaigns

Most NGOs run public awareness campaigns of some sort. This may be the single most important thing they do.

Governments

NGOs have to deal with them. But acting as their allies is another matter altogether.

Corporations

Many – though not all – NGOs now cultivate links with business and transnational corporations. Some do so more than others.

Culture

The ethos of an NGO may be ‘businesslike’. But other things may be more important.

Size

Big may look beefier. But it may also be clumsier.

Partnership

NGOs – particularly international ones – do not have to run all their own projects. They can work in partnership with others.

Assets

All organizations need reserves. But anything more than a year’s running costs is probably excessive and wasteful.

Status

Most – though not all – NGOs are ‘tax-exempt’ or registered charities. This represents a huge financial boon to the organization – but it may come with strings attached.

Accountability

The vagueness of this is currently a contentious issue. In theory an NGO may be accountable to a ‘board’ or ‘trustees’ – in practice real power usually lies with major donors.

Recipients

The ‘beneficiaries’ or recipients are usually prohibited by law from participating in charitable decision-making. But that doesn’t mean their views have to be ignored altogether.

Politics

Charities are not allowed to intervene directly in ‘party’ politics. But they are clearly involved in political issues and can’t absolve themselves altogether.

Donors or potential donors have real power, which is part of the problem. But that power, and responsibility, can also be used in favour of positive change.

Subscribe   Donate