Many British charities are experiencing a decline in donations, thought to be linked to recent scandals involving charities. The Charity Commission for England and Wales has recently published its Trust in Charities 2018 report, which finds that charities now have an average score of 5.5 out of 10 on trust. Previously, charities were rated consistently at 6.7. The Report also compares trust in charities with other key contexts, finding that charities are less trusted than doctors (7.4), the police (6.4), and the average person in the street (5.7).
The majority of respondents in the Report indicated that their trust in charities has decreased because of recent negative media stories (including Oxfam, Save the Children and others) and due to high overheads in the charitable sector.
As a Christian charity, Barnabas Fund seeks God’s wisdom and guidance to be good stewards of His money, generously entrusted to us to serve and support His persecuted Church around the world (Galatians 6:10). We acknowledge and respect that the trust of Christians around the world, both those who donate to us and those whom we assist, must be earned.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. (Galatians 6:10)
We set out below the position of Barnabas Fund concerning issues affecting trust in charities highlighted within the Report. We hope and pray that this will reassure our current supporters, and also provide answers for those who ask these very legitimate questions.
Barnabas Fund is a charity providing practical aid for persecuted Christians. We operate in the same way that Barnabas and the apostle Paul did when they took gifts from the church in Antioch to the church in Judea at a time of famine (Acts 11:27-30). Barnabas Fund does this by channelling money from Christians through Christians to Christians (local churches or Christian organizations already established in the places of pressure, harassment and persecution).
For every £1 we receive in donations, we send more than 88p to be used for our charitable work globally. Charitable work refers to the projects developed by the local persecuted Christians we are supporting, which means that more than 88p of every £1 directly helps the beneficiaries. This does not include our work in Western countries to raise awareness, encourage prayer and provide advocacy for persecuted Christians; all of these activities, as well as our general administration costs, are included in our 12% global overhead costs.
Some other charities present their figures differently, making their overheads appear lower by including activities such as raising awareness and advocacy in charitable work costs. In this way, they appear to be giving more to their beneficiaries than what is happening in reality.
If you allocate your donation to Barnabas Fund to a specific need or project, 100% of your donation will be used for that project and its costs. Nothing will be deducted from your donation for Barnabas Fund’s overheads. The costs of overheads are taken from donations to our general fund.
Some of our work is done by unpaid volunteers, and supporters may wonder whether we could cut our overheads even further by using more volunteers instead of paid staff. However, the level of professional skill and specialist knowledge required to process hundreds of project requests and grant allocations every year means that we do need a central body of full-time paid staff. We must also be compliant with all statutory requirements. We do not pay the shockingly high salaries that some charities give their senior staff.
How we raise income
We receive the vast majority of our funding from Christian individuals and churches. We are also thankful to a small number of Christian trusts who support us.
Barnabas Fund does not receive government funding, apart from Gift Aid in the UK i.e. tax already paid by donors, which is reclaimed by the charity. This means that we can remain entirely independent of government restrictions on who our beneficiaries can be and Barnabas Fund can continue directing aid only to Christians.
We raise most of our funds through our bi-monthly magazine Barnabas Aid. We never “cold call” our supporters or other people to ask for money. We are registered in the UK with the Fundraising Regulator and fully GDPR compliant.
Recent charity scandals
Barnabas Fund uses the money raised by donations to fund projects developed by local Christians in their own communities, countries or regions. The funds go to them directly as the beneficiary. We do not send people to deliver or administer projects in a foreign country. This avoids the damaging situations that have affected some other aid agencies.
Additionally, Barnabas Fund has a robust Safeguarding Policy, which covers children, vulnerable adults and women. We require our project partners globally to ascribe to its minimum requirements as a prerequisite to receiving funding. Our Regional Coordinators monitor its implementation.
Transparency and relationships
We aim to be fully transparent in all that we do. Because we specifically help Christians, donors in Australia cannot reclaim their tax. Neither can donors in New Zealand unless their donation is for the running of the Barnabas Fund office in New Zealand. In early 2016, we even published a booklet that set out very clearly the difficult times the organisation had faced internally. The aim of this booklet was to be open and honest with our supporters.
We aim to act as equal partners with the persecuted Church, whose leaders often help to shape our overall direction. We encourage, strengthen and enable the existing local church and Christian communities, so they can maintain their presence and witness. We do not set up our own structures. In this way we also avoid entering their contexts with a Western “superiority complex” and view.
Our sincere hope is for you, our supporter, to understand clearly how we raise donations and to trust that we will continue to spend as much as possible, given operational and regulatory realities, on the persecuted Church. We also aim to convey to you our Christian ethos and purpose and the way we provide help.
We trust that you, our supporters, remain assured that Barnabas Fund uses your generously donated money efficiently and responsibly, that we respect our beneficiaries as brothers and sisters in Christ, that we remain true to our values and ethos, and that we operate with full transparency.
Barnabas Fund, barnabasfund.org