Category: NGOs and Charities

Corruption: What NGOs don’t want you to know

See no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil!

The three monkeys of fraud and corruption: What charities don't want you to knowDespite the growing level of funds channelled through NGOs (or maybe because of it), fraud and corruption continue to be a highly sensitive topic, with most NGOs reluctant to openly discuss it.  This was highlighted a few years ago, when Médecins du Monde initiated a study in an attempt to open up discussion on corruption within the humanitarian aid sector (one of the most corruption prone areas of development).  Of the 17 largest French NGOs contacted for a confidential interview, accounting for more than 80% of all French humanitarian aid, 11 refused to participate. Attitudes such as this, a general lack of transparency within the sector, and a scarcity of empirical evidence available on fraud and corruption, has resulted in the topic avoiding appropriate scrutiny.

Following on from my article on NGO accountability, this is the second in a series of three articles examining NGO accountability and corruption.  Its focus will be on what we know about actual corruption within the NGOs.

‘Rose-tinted’ glasses’:  Corruption only happens in NGOs working in the developing world … or does it!

When the topic of corruption is raised, the natural inclination is to point the finger elsewhere.  In the case of Northern NGOs, this tends to be at their counter-parts operating in the developing environments of the South.  This was brought home to me in a discussion with a CEO & President of a North American based INGO last week, who stated with absolute conviction, that the ‘real’ need for anti-corruption measures was in Southern NGOs, as those in the North (like his) could safely “rely” on their external auditors and internal risk management systems to prevent it from happening.  When I pointed out that the latest ACFE fraud survey showed that he had twice the chance of uncovering a fraud within his INGO by accident (at 6%) then it being uncovered by his external auditors (at 3%), he was a little taken aback.  That aside, just how accurate was his assertion that the problem of fraud and corruption within the NGO / non-profit sector is limited to certain parts of the world? More

Trouble in Paradise: NGO Accountability & Corruption

‘Lies, damn lies, …  and NGO accountability’.

Sign showing accountability - NGOs and Charity corruptionIn the simplest of terms, the stability of the non-profit sector is based on a collective public trust, built on the innate belief that nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) are intrinsically trustworthy.  Just how warranted is this faith? Are NGO’s doing enough to merit the belief placed in them?  At the heart of these questions is the issue of accountability.

In the first of a series of three articles on corruption and the NGO/non-profit sector, I will explore the issue of NGO accountability, a concept that goes to the very heart of the sector’s legitimacy.

NGOs are now the size of small countries!

The past quarter of a century has seen a reduction in the size and role of governments around the world, leading to a growing gap in the provision of much needed primary welfare services. This gap is increasingly being filled by NGOs, whose numbers continue to grow exponentially, as has the scale of resources entrusted to them.  Mirroring the rise of multi-national corporations half a century ago, a number of them now control annual budgets the size of small economies! An example of this is World Vision International, who, in 2013, reported a total worldwide income of US$2.67 billion, a figure equal to Burundi’s economy, and higher then the GDP of twenty-nine other nation states! Other international NGOs (INGOs), such as Save the Children International (with a total 2013 income of US$1.9 billion), are key recipients of taxpayer funded overseas development aid, with 53% of their income sourced from governments. ActionAid, another INGO, have positioned themselves to take a key role in helping shape a number of nation’s policy formulation and service delivery. Given this size and influence, just how accountable are INGOs (and other) operating in the non-profit sector? More