A BBC report this month about social media platform TikTok taking a cut of up to 70% of donations that were intended for Syrian refugees highlights the importance of giving through registered and reputable charities, writes ChildFund CEO Mark Collins.
While the huge and every increasing array of communication options available to us now certainly gives Kiwis a better real-world understanding and connection to some of the every day deprivation and hardship globally, it also presents some real risks.
As highlighted this month, after displaced families in Syrian camps posted videos on TikTok begging for help, a BBC investigation showed as little as 30% of the public donations made in response actually going to those the money was intended for.
Donations made without the protection of strong governance regimes that exist within a registered and reputable charities have risks. It's even more concerning as more people in privileged environments can more easily witness, understand and directly support those in less privileged places around the world.
As we find at ChildFund, for many people the percentage of their donation that arrives at the child or person they want to support is important and whilst we all would love 100% of the actual dollars to go directly to them, the reality is there is a cost for the infrastructure and governance required to ensure the highest possible impact for the child or person. Transparent processes, all the checks and balances, need to be in place to ensure the money arrives where it should and is used for its intended outcomes.
Another risk with unregistered charities is that already vulnerable people are being exploited and used to extract money from well-meaning donors without receiving any benefit, not to mention the risk in the donor details being shared for fraud purposes.
At ChildFund we are passionate about helping children thrive and achieve their potential and everything we do leads us to that goal. Part of that is about ensuring that the children are safe and the donors are safe and that the money is used for its intended outcomes which are measured and reported back on.
I am very supportive of people in developed countries giving more financial help to those in need, but I think this BBC report shows there is very good reason that the charitable sector is governed by a strict set of rules, independent boards and oversight by independent auditors. While there is an attached overhead cost, to cover all administration, finance, technology, fundraising and compliance, donating through a registered charity is far more effective and safe to support those in need rather than engaging directly through social media.
Further reading and information
For more information or to interview ChildFund CEO Mark Collins, phone ChildFund engagement manager Carolyn Brooke on 0272859978 or email firstname.lastname@example.org