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Getting aid where it needs to go

Backback with an Aid symbol on it and cardboard with the word Medic Drawn on

The last few weeks have proved catastrophic for the people of Ukraine, and it’s heartening to see so many people in the UK want to help them as Russia invades their country.

During humanitarian disasters, it’s common for people to stockpile clothing, toiletries and food for displaced and injured people; however, without the right structure in place, it can be difficult to get these donations to the very people in need of them.

Numerous lorries have headed to the Ukraine already, each carrying materials like those above, but Russia’s military ultimately has the final say over whether they can enter Ukraine and their contents be given to its people. Donating is certainly admirable but also difficult in these situations. Despite the possibility that only a portion of donations arrive at their destination, it still helps people in the UK and other countries feel like they’re doing something to help.

Even charities who support good causes in the UK can face this problem if they’re not set up correctly, or if they don’t have suitable boundaries in place. For example, a project/event may be held by a charity, financed by grant funding because it supports a certain minority—but without a bouncer on the gate at the event/workshops, how can the charity ensure only those targeted beneficiaries are in attendance?

The whole country was behind Captain Tom Moore when he did 100 laps of his garden. The money raised was phenomenal during the early days of the pandemic, but for many, the message didn’t get through as to who he was raising funds for. The NHS isn’t a charity, but an organisation funded by our National Insurance; therefore, the funds from Captain Tom had to go to good causes in the healthcare sector or those that work in conjunction with the NHS. The media didn’t always make this distinction, and it was a shock to some people that the doctors and nurses working tirelessly, at great personal risk, within their local hospital, weren’t benefitting from the many millions Captain Tom’s campaign raised.

Some years ago, I remember seeing a local story concerning Oxfam. Someone had noticed hundreds of pairs of what looked like new shoes in a skip in the town centre. This would be wasteful at any time, but it was more galling when it was found to be Oxfam who had dumped the shoes. I don’t remember the excuse that was given at the time, and whilst I do understand that some donations just aren’t of a good enough quality to ship to the needy overseas, this wasn’t one of those scenarios. The furore around the shoe-dumping saw local people choose an alternative home for their spare change, or they just didn’t bother donating at all. The inevitable argument came up about CEO’s salaries and what they do for their money, or, more specifically, the CEO of Oxfam. This national organisation couldn’t claim that the infrastructure wasn’t there to get those shoes to children in Ethiopia who had none (which was their major campaign at the time); there really was no excuse. Thankfully, stories like these are incredibly rare.

When launching a charity, the cause is always clear; how to get the right help to the right people in the right way at the right time, however, is not as easy to determine. There’s a lot of red tape associated with the incarnation of a new charity, much of which the founders aren’t aware of until asked for it by a funder, the bank or the Charity Commission; there’s the risk that a lack of legal papers and compliance could put donations from third parties at risk—even the future of the charity itself. Once you’ve set your stall out properly, only then can you look at supporting the people you wish to help.

If you’d like help to understand and implement the red tape your cause is required to address, as well as what infrastructure you would need to put in place to deliver your support, give me a call on 0114 350 3354 or email me here:


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