Charitable transparency: an FOL statement

Where does the money go? That’s a question we’re occasionally asked, not just by the general public but also by our supporters and volunteers.

For the last number of years, on this site we publish our annual audited accounts including details on staff salaries, not just to answer those questions but also because we feel it is the duty of a well-run, open and honest charitable institution to do so. However, in the last few weeks there have been many more enquiries, inspired by revelations about top-up payments for senior executives in a number of voluntary healthcare providers. The question of governance and transparency of charities is highly topical these days. And so it should be. The Irish public is right to ask where its donations and tax euros go and insist on good governance and transparent procedures.

At a time when Ireland is still emerging from its worst recession in decades, people who give donations – donations that they themselves may have difficulty affording – expect them to be spent wisely. As a recipient of grant money from the Irish government through Irish Aid, we have complied with all requirements such as inspection visits, regular reporting, monitoring and evaluation of projects.

We agree with Deirdre Garvey, CEO of The Wheel, a leading support and representative network for the community and voluntary sector in Ireland, who said in the Irish Times that the issue has nothing to do with the way in which the vast majority of highly effective and efficient charitable organisations are run. But we also know that as Anne Hanniffy, CEO of Fundraising Ireland, put it, that the revelations are having a “disproportionate and unfair impact on the funding efforts of charities and, critically, people reliant” on such charities. We are delighted that the – long overdue – establishment of a charity regulator in Ireland will take place in 2014 and we intend to fully comply with it. Last year we voluntarily took steps to become compliant with the Governance Code and to implement best practice guidelines in relation to fundraising.

Our job is not just to work with the funds that people donate to Friends of Londiani to help with community development in Kenya. It’s also to show that FOL, like most of Ireland’s many charities, is run to the highest possible standards. So we, like Deirdre Garvey, believe that, until a regulatory body is finally established, charities should take the lead in underlining their commitment to transparency by publishing detailed accounts on their websites, or other places accessible to the public.

As we have said, our annual reports and annual accounts are freely available online. However, in the light of recent events, we felt that we needed to reinforce the message that we are using donor money and grants received wisely. So that is what we have done. Click here and you will find a Friends of Londiani Statement on Governance and Transparency. The Irish people are rightly proud of their generosity to many charitable causes. It’s a generosity that cannot be taken for granted or squandered. We never have – and we never will.