As one of the countries with a greater level of wealth than the rest, Australia has long fostered a charitable spirit among its citizens. This spirit is present both in macro and micro levels. In the macro level, Australia, as a country, gives aid to developing nations and countries in need by processing them through state government channels. Here, the government of Australia reaches out to the governments of states and countries they wish to help and the aid they give is allocated from the Australian tax revenues. On the other hand, Australian charity in the micro level pertains to individual charities and non-profit organisations that work in different advocacies. Australia houses over 60,000 registered charities and hundreds of thousands not-for-profit organisations.

The Filipino-Australian community shares an interest in charities achieving the best outcomes in the best way, whether that’s for typhoon victims, sending poor kids to school or easing the hunger and suffering in the Philippines. Filipino organisations here conduct fundraising events such as dinner-dances, concerts, raffles, selling of tickets, festivals, and beauty contests. However, charity work has lost its traction in the form of fewer donors ever since the global financial crisis and sustained negative appeal due to transparency problems of the fundraising groups.

The problem

Filipino fundraising events face scrutiny from supporters due to issues including, but not limited to, transparency, mismanagement, and leadership problems. For example, a long-time organisation with a leader who has been sitting for more than 15 years with charity events yet the community cannot see any concrete Filipino centre or charitable group in the Philippines that benefitted from them will surely trigger a low trust rating from supporters.

In addition, fundraising has become too saturated with organisations competing for donations and a shrinking attendance. With so many charities, it seems more like a marketplace competing for donors rather than a healthy platform to do good to those less fortunate.

Donor fatigue, in which people no longer donate, although they have in the past, is being felt now. Organisations doing fundraising events are also being criticised because of transparency issues. According to Tim Costello, Chair of the Community Council for Australia and World Vision Australia Chief Executive, “Donors of all kinds — whether they be individuals, businesses, governments, and philanthropic bodies — do trust Australia’s charitable organisations to address issues they are concerned about.” But they worry about the actual effectiveness in bringing about the changes in people’s lives that these organisations promise to deliver.

Solution

Charity events of Filipino organisations need to be reformed with full disclosure of their activities and proceeds to their donors and stakeholders. They need to adequately provide the evaluation of their programs, and to ensure transparency and good governance. One of the recommended policies they could implement are yearly reports of proceeds to donors, detailing how the funds raised go to the right beneficiaries (i.e. feeding program, financial donations, scholarship, donation of goods and more). They also need to possibly meet with donors and discuss concerns and suggestions for progress.

For donors and those who still plan to, the most important thing is to research. Donate and support only credible fundraisers. Be vigilant and report fraudsters who veil their corruption in seemingly charity-oriented organisations/individuals. If you see them, report them to authorities like the police, media or government-regulating bodies. It is only this way that the natural will to give flourishes to lift up an impoverished community or cause.

The Philippine Times, November 2017 Edition

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