Monday, 11 May 2009

Monitoring mega-expenditure of NGOs

My regular readers will know that I am a critic of foreign aid, and I am also a critic of Oxfam. I also monitor many websites of charities, mostly to see how they present themselves, and to ensure that any criticisms that might be made do not apply to the World land Trust. A major problem with any large charity is that it almost impossible to understand what really goes on when reading their accounts. When a charity the size of Oxfam presents its accounts, it is done in round millions, and it is almost impossible to know what these figure concern. The charity can give away as much or as little information as it likes. But it does lead to an enormous potential for misunderstanding. I am sure there are very good explanations, for example, on the Oxfam website it indicates that grants paid to overseas recipients in FYE 2008 totalled £16 million going to 50 organisations. Yet in the same annual rport it is stated that the UK payroll cost £93 million, with 25 staff earning over £60,000 p.a. As I wrote above, I am sure there is a perfectly good reason for these figures, but what it does show is how difficult it is to undertand accounts when they are hidden in fiogures with 6 noughts on the end.

One of the more obviousreasons can be found by looking at the sources of income, and since a huge amount comes from governments, it is likely that this is expected to be spent on UK staff so that it stays at home to be taxed, and therefore returned to sender....

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