Why, unusually, I support this charity, by Ian Tait


Nowadays I rarely give money to charity. Why? Because so many of them are inefficient, spending substantial sums on themselves rather than using donated funds for the actual purpose intended.

A US survey in 2014 found that almost 37% of charity expenditure was spent on administration and fundraising activities, with the balance going to good causes. And similarly, more recent research by Channel 4 News in the UK (14 Aug 2017) found that between 60% – 70% of charities’ annual spend goes on ‘charitable activities’ ie ‘providing the services or fulfilling the duties that the charity exists to provide’. This followed the shocking case of the UK’s National Hereditary Breast Cancer Helpline which in financial year 2014 – 2015 spent only 3% (roughly £27k) of its total annual expenditure (over £800k) on charitable activities. That is, the charity gave only 3% of its spend to good causes. And according to the Charities Commission, fourteen UK-based charities have staff members earning over £300k per annum, with the average boss of the UK’s top 100 charities paid £255k a year. That’s why I rarely give money to charity.

Professors Malcolm Harper and Gerry Johnson of the Cranfield of Management were teaching  in India in 1992 when they discovered a small local residential school which took in the orphaned daughters of local sex workers. They decided to support the school from UK, and set up ‘Friends of the Children of Orissa’, raising small amounts of money and sending the funds to India. The school has grown from 25 pupils to some 300, including  50 mor so ‘day girls’ from local slums.  Malcolm visits the school several times a year, all his costs being covered from other work, and  friends and neighbours in the UK give their time and occasional ‘in-kind’ help to cover all  expenses. Thus all the money which is donated to help the children  goes to India and is spent entirely in supporting the school.  Many girls have  ‘graduated’ from  the school and are working in a variety of careers, including teaching, nursing and work in the many local software and other IT businesses. You can see some photos and videos on the charity’s website (link below). In addition to the school, the charity now supports another small  local  charity which rescues lost and runaway children who are found on platforms in railway stations. These children are in danger from unscrupulous kidnap gangs who seize (mostly) boys for their own purposes, often ending in the child’s death, and the charity rescues about 1000 children a year and reunites them with their families.  The film and book ‘Lion’ described the life of one such child who was eventually adopted by an Australian family, and was able to tell the story of his life in some detail.

So, this charity not only does excellent work in helping destitute small children in one of the poorest parts of India; it sends your donation where it belongs – to the children. I encourage you to make a contribution and to spread the word about the valuable work done by The Friends of the Children of Orissa.