Thursday, May 08, 2008

What to do For Burma ?

I have no useful insights. I just clicked on how to help at

I have some thoughts on the options.

First an acceptable ratio of actual assitance out of total spending including administration and fund raising is roughly 90%. In fact, if you check, you are likely to find the ratio of almost exactly 90%. I think it has become a norm that the minimum acceptable ratio is 90%, so fund raising spending is set at 0.9(funds raised - administrative expenses).

If the organisatio does not report this ratio prominently (say a pie chart on their main web page or one click away) I wouldn't fork money over to them with a ten foot pole.

Second, I'm not John Bolton, but I have worked for an international orgnanisation and I noted high untaxed salaries. A friend of mine who works at the World Bank says go NGO. I'm not sure this applies to disaster relief and I have no sense about the international red cross/red crescent.

Third, a lot of US based NGOs have discovered that it is much easier to raise money if some of it is spent helping the poor in the USA. I'm sure this is good strategy, but it is a compromise (a wise compromise). If you are not nationalistic, it shouldn't be needed to get you to open your wallet, so I tend to check that the NGO sends the money where it is needed most (out of the USA) before deciding to put off giving and think about it another day (see I just confessed).

But really I don't know anything.

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