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Don’t believe Oxfam’s (IMHO) ‘lies’

Oxfam must be hoping to have raked in a few quid yesterday and today. Yesterday evening, Channel 4 showed an episode of Undercover Boss featuring some (IMHO) rather clueless dope who turned out to be Oxfam’s  CEO (£108,775 a year plus £35,000 expenses). This allowed Oxfam to use the ad breaks to broadcast an appeal for Sudan.

In Oxfam’s appeal, we were told that “conflict” was causing all sorts of ghastly humanitarian problems in the Sudan and so huge quantities of our money were needed. But who or what is this “conflict”? Could it possibly be that stupidity, religious backwardness, tribalism and overpopulation are leading to a situation where greedy, corrupt multimillionaire leaders are wrecking their own countries by exploiting the competition for resources? Could it be that the more money we give, the worse the overpopulation, strain on resources and conflicts will be? Could it be that organisations like Oxfam never mention the real causes of these conflicts as political correctness makes them terrified of being accused of racism and/or Isl*moph*bia? Could it be that what’s really needed is an emergency programme of birth control?

In the TV programme, Oxfam’s reasonably well-paid CEO blethered on about making the best use of all the money donated to Oxfam. And Oxfam claims that around 74.3% (£286.5m) of its total income of £385.5m was used for what the Charity Commission calls “charitable expenditure”.

I’m no accountant, but I’ve had a quick look at Oxfam’s accounts and I came to a rather different conclusion:

Oxfam seems to have 3 main sources of funds – shops, public donations and government grants.

Its shops raise £89.9m, but cost £67.6m to run, leaving just £22.3m for charity. So just £25 out of every £100 spent in Oxfam shops actually goes into Oxfam’s coffers. The other £75 is used just for running the shops. Not great, considering the people working in the shops are mostly volunteers, what they sell is donated and Oxfam don’t pay any business rates. Perhaps there are a few too many overpaid, over-pensioned managers? Who knows?

Oxfam raises about £295.6m in donations with a cost for raising this money of £23m (7.8%). That looks pretty good. But £159.8m of these donations come from government, large institutions and public authorities giving Oxfam enormous piles of our money while cutting public services in Britain because we can’t afford them. So, actually only £135.8m is raised from us directly at a cost of £23m (17%). Not great, but not disastrous either.

Now we know that of the £385.5m raised by Oxfam, £90.6m (shops – £67.6m plus fundraising – £23m) of this is spent getting the money in. That leaves about £294.9m to be spent.

Then we have to knock off about £31.9m for support and governance costs, leaving £263m – 68% of the £385.5m raised – available for charity work.

Now comes a bit of guessing. Oxfam’s staff costs are £59.5m in the UK and £42.3m overseas – total £101.8m. If we’re generous and assume that only a third of these staff are in administrative and managerial functions and that two thirds are doing real charitable work, then the administration and managerial staff costs would be £33.9m. This would leave around £229.1m for charitable work (59.4% of the £385.5m raised).

Of the £229.1m available for charitable work, about 40% (£90.6m) isn’t spent directly by Oxfam, but is handed out in grants to other charities. As they will certainly have managerial and administrative costs of 20% or more, that’s another £18.1m not available for real charity. That leaves us with £211m – 54.7% of the £385.5m raised by Oxfam (click on chart to see more clearly)

By my reckoning, about 50% or less of the money given to Oxfam is actually used for real charitable work. That’s pathetic. And it’s not anywhere near Oxfam’s claim of using 74.3% for charitable purposes.

Then there’s one other not so small problem – most experts and UN special studies suggest that around 80% of aid given to Third World countries disappears due to corruption and incompetence.

All in all, you’re probably wasting your money if you give it to Oxfam and you’re probably wasting your time if you’re one of the 22,000 volunteers who help out at Oxfam. If you want to give to charity or help charity, why not choose a small local charity or hospice where you can see what your money is being used for? But as for huge, bloated, bureaucratic, self-serving Oxfam – waste of time, waste of money?

7 comments to Don’t believe Oxfam’s (IMHO) ‘lies’

  • JBLOUNT

    I stopped giving an annual donation to the Salvation Army when I saw its offices on the walk up to the Millennium Bridge.
    I am very sceptical about “charity” these days.

    Anyway, I must mention the lovely baroness again. Baroness Ashton. I watched a video on the BBC website of her little message to/about the Russian problem. I bet they were quivering in their boots. What a pathetic performance. How she epitomises the EU clowns. Roll on her retirement. I feel very embarrassed by her inadequacy and cant help thinking that her and the EU’s desire to get Ukraine on-board in their big box of mismatched countries (or states as the bloody baroness referred to them as) lies at the root of the present apparent evil.

  • NG

    Do you have a link to the wonderful Baroness Ashton’s speech?

  • Keen Reader

    I’ve known in principle for years about the proportion of the money donated by a gullible public which all the major charities syphon off for “expenses”, “fund-raising” and all the other stuff you write about. Good to see the actual figures for OXFAM though. As for the OXFAM High Street shops, they are in my view a disgrace. Where I live – the so-called “Affluent South” – they occupy prime High Street positions and certainly buy in ranges of new sports shirts and similar gear which, because they are not subject to the extortionately high Business Rates that legitimate retailers have to pay, they are able to sell at prices which undercut their struggling neighbours on the Street. I won’t touch them with the proverbial barge pole! Charity certainly begins at home in my view. Support your local Hospice Shop when you want to get rid of redundant household stuff, or give it to the sort of wonderful local charity we have in my village, where determined elderly volunteers (some of whom look as if they should themselves be in Care Homes!)do house clearances for no charge (usually following the decease of the inhabitant) then sell the items at a weekly garage sale, raising money to purchase minibuses which convey elderly non-driving residents to the supermarket for shopping and the hospital for consultations.

  • Dr. R. D. Feltham

    I have also for some years now observed the way in which all the major “charities” have been taken over by unqualified “professionals”, who have worked out that when there are increasingly fewer highly-paid management opportunities, particularly for those who are not formally qualified at post graduate-level in management or administration and are not Chartered Managers, the easy way is to take over a “charity” as a CEO. Even Tear Fund and the Salvation Army have now been so taken over, and they were the last remaining charities run with previously low management and overhead costs – not any more. Hand in hand with this takeover has been the accompanied influx of “professional” fund-raisers, who spend vast amounts raising funds with mail shots and radio and TV advertising, using the lowest-level possible moral tactics to almost blackmail people into giving to their ponzi scheme “charities”.

    I have over many years offered and continue to offer my services as a highly-qualified Management Consultant free of charge to all these large charities, particularly to undertake cost control and cost-benefit analyses for them; up to now they have all for clearly evident reasons failed to take up my offers.

    Neil is thus perfectly correct (although my conclusions have been that in the major charities now the percentage of funds raised which actually arrives to the needy cause is signficantly lower than his calculations) in that the only way left now to give to real charity is to find local organisations genuinely helping the poor and needy; but check them out carefully first.

  • JBLOUNT

    I found the wonderful baroness’s little bedside chat on the BBC website. I forget under which caption. I seem to remember “complete idiot makes a fool of herself again and makes the ruskies laugh” though the letters may have been arranged in a different order

  • JBLOUNT

    On reflection it may have been on the Sky News website. She was wearing a green dress which suited her face.

  • NG

    I found it (her). It was on a Daily Torygraph interview

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