Years ago, soon after the formation of Kingscare (now known as Karuna Action), I attended a seminar which brought people together who represented Christian organisations working overseas. I can only remember one particular statement. It has stayed with me since.
“People give to people”.
- People don’t give to my organisation.
- People don’t voluntarily give to governments.
- People don’t give to causes unless they benefit real people.
- People don’t give to charities as such, they only do so if others will benefit.
- People give to people.
If we as a charity forget this, we have lost our way. As much as I want people to give money to Karuna Action, I must not forget that they really want to help real people living in other countries, and they will only give through a charity which is transparent and provides a clear link between donor and recipient.
Means to an end
As an international charity we are only a means to an end. Individual givers really want to benefit individuals living in other countries, but this is too difficult to do directly. As intermediaries:
- We oversee the project and ensure that the money is spent wisely and for the purpose it was given.
- We have a strict system of “fund accounting” to ensure that the money is spent on the country/project in accordance with the donors wishes.
- Where possible we claim back the income tax that the donors have already paid on their gifts.
- We assure accountability and transparency.
- We take care of sending the cash overseas, handling different currencies etc.
- Wherever possible we provide feedback to the givers.
As a charity we do not hand money to beneficiaries directly. We deal through partners who we trust. Most of these partners are churches and organisations working directly with their communities overseas. We need to be clear that these partners are only channels through which funds flow to those in need. We ask our partners to realise that any funds no not come from Karuna Action, but from individual people who are giving, not to the partner church or organisation, but to the people that they are seeking to help.
So if you see needs, hear or read about them, you will want to meet those needs in some way. If the need is local, you may be able to help directly, or you might like to give through a local charity to provide anonymity and accountability.
If the need is in another country you can give through (not to) an international charity like Karuna Action. I don’t want you to give to us, but to use us as a practical way of helping people living in desperate poverty.
- The joy of giving (georgedowdell.org)