Ian Leslie on AIDs.
Sometimes I get asked, “Does World Vision pay those personalities you use?”
The answer is, “Yes. We pay the cameraman, the sound man, the secretary who organises the visit, the production house that edits the vision, and the personality who acts as on-screen host.”
I've written in Trellis about this before. A worker is worthy of wages. If you pay a worker, you have an enforceable contract that makes sure the worker delivers what they promised.
Personalities sometimes return part of their fee to World Vision.
After covering the aids story in Kenya, Ian Leslie was so moved by the plight of the mothers he interviewed that he gave World Vision a special gift of $4,000 to meet their special needs and to provide for their children after they die.
Naturally, Ian didn't want his gift to receive media publicity, and we shall honour that wish. However, I think it is good for staff to know that this kind of response is not uncommon from the high profile people who help us in more public ways.
DOES MY MONEY REALLY GET THERE?
We get asked this question a lot. Recently John Van Klaveren put together this response. It's one of the best I've read.
“How much of my money actually goes overseas?” or “How much do you spend on overheads?” These questions are by far the most commonly asked of World Vision by Australians.
The people who ask these questions are genuine and concerned people. The fact that they ask these questions reveals two things. Although they have been moved to respond in some way, they are unsure whether this is the best way to make their response. But it also shows that they are thinking about some of the issues which surround aid and development.
World Vision finds people in many different situations when it attempts to assist. When a disaster occurs, people need immediate help to merely survive, which requires a different response to people caught in structural injustice which is keeping them poor.
World Vision needs to be able to respond to different situations as required. Providing relief, without continuing support to move to development, is not only wasteful but also immoral. As with many things, the initial cost is high but it drops in time.
The donor's money is all spent on enhancing that development process. The majority of the funds are sent overseas, of course. But all that money is spent on goods and services which benefit the project. If some of the money is actually spent on maintaining the program which supports the project, that too, even if indirectly, supports the project, which could not exist without that support. Development cannot take place in a vacuum.
Development is not just about providing material things. The warmth, love and support that only people can give is as important as provision of food or an education. World Vision invests in people as part of the development process. The whole concept of development is based on people coming to mutual understanding and awareness of each other and working together.
World Vision is an operational agency, rather than just handing the funds to another organisation which actually does the work. That sometimes costs more, but it also means we have our people involved at all levels. Not only does that mean much better development work, but it also offers us accountability. With World Vision involved at the grass roots level, we are able to report on the effect the money is having in bringing people to sustainable development, even if it begins with relief work.
Organisations which depend on public donations come under a lot more scrutiny. Other institutions can keep their books to themselves, but ours are subject to searching evaluation. We are transparent - right under the microscope every day of the year. We are fully, and cheerfully, accountable. Our annual financial report is freely available upon request.
We have no means of support other than people's generosity. We are in their hands. Let them be the judges.