Thursday, January 21, 2010

CAFOD - the truth about where your money goes

I recently came across this article about CAFOD (the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development). It was posted as a reply to an article in the Telegraph.

'CAFOD spends £49m a year, of which £6m on political campaigns in the UK. I would like to see charities required by law to devote their resources to charitable works, not politics. Of the £49m a year it spends, £13m is on salaries and pensions for its UK staff. Those
salaries average more than £35K a year. While not a fortune from a middle-class perspective, this is an average, and one that is well above the average salary in the UK as a whole, raising questions over whether the charity is being run in the interests of its employees.
Donors may not realise that much of the money they donate is going on salaries and pensions, and only once those are covered will anything at all be left over for charitable works. CAFOD spends £1.5m a year on professional consultancy fees. The director of CAFOD pays himself £76,892 a year, plus a further £7,689 in pension contributions for himself. Once again, there are plenty of people on six-figure salaries in the UK who might view that salary as unremarkable, but this is meant to be the “voluntary sector”. In fact, the CAFOD director’s salary is an increase from £71258 in 2008. You might ask why such a large salary increase is justified in the voluntary sector in a year with little inflation. I expect the current disaster in Haiti will
produce further salary increases for the CAFOD director this year. CAFOD admits it spends £6m a year on politics and £6m a year on fundraising, and is happy to quote in its annual accounts a figure showing the balance of £37m is devoted to its “international campaigns”, but simply maths shows that the salaries of many of its UK staff are being rolled into that, and that the real frontline spending figure is much lower. Actually once £7m in “operating costs” and £2m in “support costs” are deducted, only £28m of CAFOD’s annual income of £49m is given in grants under its international programme. Charitable donors may be surprised that this is so low as a proportion of the whole. While £13m of this £28m is devoted to disaster relief grants
and £6.7m to sustainable livelihoods, people may be surprised that some of the grants are for yet more political work in foreign countries. £1.7m of the grants was for “economic advocacy” and £1.4m was for “human rights” and £1.2m was for “conflict resolution”. While
CAFOD does do charitable works, the real frontline work of the organisation in genuine charitable and non-political fields amounts to about half of the organisation’s expenditure…

I regard most of the charitable sector in the UK as a vast scam. It may be legal what they do, but in my eyes these charities are run in the interests of their UK employees, and in fact could be seen, morally, if not legally, as embezzling charitable donations to spend on themselves. There needs to be legal maximum that charity workers can spend on themselves, and that needs to be below the national average wage. Eg: a max of £20K a year with no pension contributions or “expenses”, whether for the directors or anyone else. There needs to be much more pro bono work for charities and much less creaming off donations into personal bank accounts. By reducing salaries to £20K a year and deleting political campaigning in the UK and political work in the third world, CAFOD would save £17m, producing a 70% increase in the funds available for real frontline work on disaster relief and sustainable livelihoods. Now why do I think that’s NOT going to happen…'

None of this surprises me given the institutionalised nature of the large UK charities.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It seems a shame that giving to charity is more about how it makes YOU feel than the effect your money could have on other peoples lives.

Charity should not be cool or fashionable and anyone who profits from it or doesn't care about where their money goes after they drop it in box needs help themselves.