Myths and opinions about Non-governmental organizations

life Jan 20, 2020

 

This one time I threw myself into a Facebook comment field

 

I rarely pay attention to the Facebook comment fields, except this one time a couple of weeks ago where literary flames were coming out of my ears reading the comments on a post about NGO's.

 

This topic quickly sets me off because people tend to let their feelings, beliefs, or media's limited presentations of the NGO's decide their opinions. 

 

Discussion about NGO's

 

This particular post was a question from a woman asking whom others would recommend donating money— a simple question with no simple answer. Some answers were fine, like donating to a cause you believe in, or an organisation in your local community.

 

But some of the answers were everything else than fine. The comment field quickly filled up with recommendations based on emotions and opinions, having nothing to do with reality. And this frustrated me to the extent that I, for the first time in ages, threw myself into the discussion.

 

Instead of questioning the system and criticising the organisations, perhaps we should trust that the NGO's and people who dedicate their lives to helping others. Believe that their intentions are good and that they work to accomplish as much as possible with their allocated funds.

 

Opinions and feelings, not facts

It amazes me how many different opinions about NGO's (Non-governmental organisations are organisations independent of any government. They are usually non-profit, and many NGOs are active in the humanitarian or social area). I have worked closely with some of them, and my respect and humbleness for NGO's and everyone working in philanthropy are enormous and endless. 

 

I am aware that some organisations are not serious and that there have been some scandals earlier with NGO's. Still, if one organisation's mistake is to define our relationship with every NGO out there, then we need to do a little reality check. The ones suffering from this is the poorest, most vulnerable people and animals of our planet.

 

 

An answer to the most common thoughts and opinions

 

However, despite all the great efforts of the NGO's, they still end up getting inadequate media coverage and silly comments from people. Below are some of the opinions I argued in the commentary field, and some I tend to hear most often discussing NGO's with others. 

 

1. I don't give to NGO's, because the money doesn't reach the poor people. 

This claim is usually based on something one has heard or read about a particular organisation a long time ago. That doesn't mean that it goes for every organisation around the world. If you are unsure whether the money reaches the destination, or what percentage reaches the poor, you can visit The Collection Control (Innsamlinskontrollen). 

 

The collection control (IK) is an ideal foundation that assures that fundraising activities are conducted correctly and that the money goes to the stated purpose. Accredited organisations undertake to submit to external control and follow specific accounting rules and ethical guidelines for collection. Further conditions are set for approval that at least 65% of funds collected go in full for the stated purpose.

 

2. I only give to people I know aren't spending money on administration

It's okay if you want to donate money to a small organisation run by people you know and trust, feel free to continue doing so. But sometimes we have to lift our sights and see the bigger picture. The NGO's have tremendous power and opportunities to make a difference in the world, whether it be poverty, illness, education or other matters. A small local organisation will never make such an impact. 

 

It is practically impossible to accomplish significant results without spending money on administration. Change requires capital, not magic. If you do not understand this, you need to take a look at how our world is composed. Nothing is free, not even charity. 

 

Also, the largest organisations work to influence our political structures and laws for the better. They rely on large numbers of members like you and me, to get a breakthrough for their campaigns and activities.

 

3. I only give when I feel like it; I don't like being a member

Again, the largest organisations work to influence our political structures and laws for the better. They rely on large numbers of members like you and me, to get a breakthrough for their campaigns and activities.

 

In addition to this, organisations need consistent monthly support and income to plan their work well ahead of time. I mean, imagine planning your life if you didn't know which day or week you received your salary. It would be impracticable and challenging, and therefore, the organisations need you to donate a monthly amount, big or small.

 

In Norway, you also get a tax reduction on your donations, which are usually reported automatically when you give monthly. 

 

4. I want my own sponsor child, but I don't get that anymore

Oddly enough, these are often the ones who also complain about admin expenses. Then my question is, what do you think it costs to manage a 1: 1 correspondence between sponsors and children from different countries on each side of the earth?

 

Another thing that has struck me is how selfish this mindset is, because why should some children have sponsors, get letters and toys - while others should not? I can't think of anything more heartbreaking. The best thing is to donate money to the organisation and let them decide what's most efficient use for the money and make sure it benefits all the children.

 

5. I don't know which organisation to support; therefore, I choose not to give to anyone

Ask yourself a simple question; what concerns and engages you the most? Education for children, empowerment of women, saving orphans, healing sickness, disaster recovery, endangered animals, the environment or other matters? Once you have the answer to this, finding an organisation is pretty straightforward. Check the organisation at Innsamlingskontrollen before you sign up, and you are good to go.

 

 

Here are some of the most common organisations with a quick summary of their main focus: 

 

For children: 

Plan International (Plan Norge) - works for children to receive education, health care and protection against child marriage.

SOS Child Villages (SOS Barnebyer) - helps children receive care and safe homes around the world.

Save the Children (Redd Barna) - fight for children's rights and for children to live a dignified life - no matter who they are and where they live. Works for all children to get an education.

 

For women: 

Care (Care Norge) - works to empower women and give women the opportunity to make their own money, decide on their own bodies and have their voice heard.

 

Other causes: 

Red Cross (Norges Røde Kors) - works on the mandate to uncover, prevent and alleviate distress, both in Norway and abroad.

Doctors Without Limits (Leger Uten Grenser) - save lives in crises, war and disasters. We provide emergency assistance to those who need it most and notify us of forgotten crises.

NRC (Flyktningehjelpen) - NRC works to protect the rights of displaced and vulnerable persons during a crisis.

 

For Mother Earth and animals: 

WWF (World Wildlife Fund) - the leading organization in wildlife conservation and endangered species

Rainforest Foundation (Regnskogsfondet) - their main task is to collect money and conduct information work on the protection of rainforests.

 

 

I hope this busted some myths and gave you some clarity on the different NGO's out there. And most of all I hope you take this opportunity to become a donor to the organization that engages you the most.

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