Why buying a goat does make a difference
Five years ago, Oxfam started the Unwrapped giving program, giving Australians the chance to buy their friends and family a different kind of present – one that also contributes to our work helping people out of poverty around the world.
It’s a concept that many charities use in one form or another. It’s proved to be popular, and we hope it will become even more so.
It works like this - you chose a present, maybe a goat, maybe a pile of poo. You get a fun gift card to give as the present and Oxfam gets money to continue our work. That might not necessarily mean that we use the money to buy a goat for a poor family overseas, (a goat might not always be the solution), but we will use it for an agriculture related program that helps people grow food to be able to feed their family, and maybe make some money to send their children to school. How your money will be used is explained on our Unwrapped website when you buy your gift.
The money Oxfam receives from the Unwrapped giving program makes a real difference to the lives of vulnerable people. As the Executive Director of Oxfam Australia I’ve had the privilege of visiting communities in many of the 28 countries around the world where we work and seeing that impact first hand.
In East Timor, where the Unwrapped gift of “seeds” means farmers can improve the yield of their crops, as well as improve their family’s nutrition.
In Sri Lanka, where the gift of “start a small business” allows women and men to start their own enterprise like brick making, tailoring or spice grinding, thereby earning an ongoing living.
So I’m convinced, but what about you? How do Australians who use the Unwrapped program, and who donate money to charities know that their money is making a difference?
Understandably, some people will be sceptical about where their money goes. That’s why Oxfam takes seriously our responsibility to tell you how we spend your money. We believe it’s better for us if people understand how we operate and why we do what we do.
When you visit the Oxfam website, you can see a breakdown of all our costs as well as numerous examples of our work. All our accounts are independently audited and we’re a member of the peak body for international development charities in Australia, ACFID, which has a strict industry code.
The breakdown of our spending includes listing how much we spend on our programs and advocacy work, how much we spend on administration, how much we spend on fundraising and promotion.
Oxfam is not alone in its efforts to be transparent. Many reputable charities in Australia know how important it is that we show we’re using donors’ money effectively and that we do our best to keep our supporters informed.
The sector is not perfect – and we’re always looking for ways we can improve. In fact, Oxfam believes that Australia could further build public confidence and trust in charities by establishing an Independent Charities Commission, similar to one that has operated in England and Wales for more than five years. Oxfam made this recommendation to a Senate inquiry last year, and it’s one we hope the Australian Government takes seriously.
In the meantime, buy a goat of support Oxfam through other ways. The information is there to show that your gift will not just make you feel good, but will make a real difference.
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