Sunday, February 25, 2007

Corruption Item 6: Hold Non-Profits Accountable

6) Hold non-profit adoption agencies accountable for how donations and money for "humanitarian projects" are spent. Demand an accounting.

--Research sending country non-profit agencies' financial statements on-line and understand where the money from fees and donations goes. Ask about anything that doesn't make sense.

--"Donations" and money for "humanitarian projects" can represent sizeable amounts of money, especially after they are converted into foreign currency and understood in the context of the sending country. This money, when not used as reported can easily become the incentive for corrupt, fraudulant, and illegal adoption practices.(If you want to know how easily such donations are diverted and how no one is currently keeping track, watch the video, "What Really Happened in Cambodia" by US Special Agent Richard Cross: ) KNOW WHERE THE MONEY GOES. Hold agencies accountable.

--If agencies claim to have a "humanitarian project," ask for an accounting of how funds are spent within that program. Ask specific questions until you understand how things work and where the money goes. If an agency has a "humanitarian feeding program" what does that mean? Does it mean that they hand out a dozen cupcakes to passersby on a deserted corner once a year or does it mean that theyhave an ongoing commitment to hand out 20 pound bags of vital protein like legumes to 100 impoverished and pre-qualified families on the first day of each month in such and such a village and they've been doing it for 10 years now? Who can verify that this is so? The label "humanitarian project," should not be allowed to be a vague hiding place for the lack of accountability.

--Agencies have legitimate costs in doing business. Everyone understands this and no one should lose sight of that fact. However,agencies, as all businesses, must be held accountable for their handling of money. This is especially true in the international context where foreign exchange rates change large amounts of money into enormous fortunes and where the agency stands in the gap between enormous power and economic divides. Agencies MUST act responsibly.

--Refuse to cooperate with illegal practices. Refuse to accept obviously bogus explanations. Where something looks and smells fishy, it often is. For example, when we are told as AP's that we must give a mandatory "voluntary" donations—come on, it's an oxymoron and yet we as AP's go along with such nonsense. When in doubt, go to the appropriate NGO's or authorities and ask….does this seem a little fishy to you too…?...

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