12 February 2011

World Vision Politik

Friday evening, World Vision published a response to the the outpouring of criticism centering around their sending of 100,000 articles of clothing to selected countries in conjunction with the NFL.  I will save you the time reading a very lengthy response that does little to address the concerns of the critics of the program.

World Vision says that the debate reached their offices but still has them deciding to continue with their programs because they make targeted donations, staff make requests for needs, there will be no 'measurable impact' on the economies where the goods are distributed.

Taking the time to respond to criticism is something which should be commended.  World Vision is so big that they do not have to address the concerns of a few vocal bloggers and comments.  However, Saundra of Good Intents is not happy commenting:
Easy claims to make, but can you back them up with documentation? Especially since other non-profits of similar size and mission - Oxfam, Save the Children, American Red Cross, Plan USA - claim very little as gifts-in-kind on their financial statements. So how is it that World Vision needs even more than the quarter of a billion dollars worth of gifts-in-kind each year to run their programs? To be believed, you will need to back up your claims with documentation including: needs assessments, a market analysis of what is available in the local markets and the impact on the market of donated goods (staff requests do not equal a market analysis), an independent evaluation of both the NFL donations (after 15 years you should have done at least one evaluation) and an independent evaluation of your entire gifts-in-kind portfolio. You should also share the math behind how World Vision determined that the NFL shirts had a Fair Market Value - on the date of donation - of approximately $20 each. And this doesn't even begin to hit on the issues with World Vision's marketing campaigns around GIK. Why keep perpetuating the Whites in Shining Armor image.
 Needless to say, Saundra is fired up.

World Vision has made a positive set in their response, but have not addressed the main questions that have been posed:
  1. What impact does the distribution of the clothing have on the local economies?
  2. What role does this partnership play in the printing of more shirts?
  3. Are there no alternatives to the current plan?
  4. Why is quality clothing not available in some communities? How does distributing free goods resolve this problem?
Though a very kind gesture, the response by World Vision will not appease its' critics.  I remain a skeptic, but patiently await more information.  It is evident that World Vision has been thinking long and hard about this issue.  It might be best to offer some more information and a little less Politik.