Busting 5 myths about large charity organizations

Faced with so many conflicting voices, people are suspicious about some charities. To filter the noise, read these 5 myths about large charity organizations.

Fundraising team
UNICEF South Africa/Pirozzi
20 March 2020
When it comes to donating to charity organizations, people sometimes have a sense of suspicion or wariness. (Read these top 4 questions to ask before donating to a charity organization). Larger charities, in particular, often become the subject of debate and cynicism. Faced with many conflicting voices, a deluge of fake news, and ongoing social media commentary, how can you filter out the ‘noise’ and discern the facts about global humanitarian organisations?

To help you clear up the noise, we’re addressing 5 common myths and misconceptions about big charity organizations.

Myth #1: Large charity organizations spend too much on admin

Expecting charity organizations to have little-to-no administrative (or ‘overhead’) costs is unreasonable. While Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) do not amass profit for private individuals, they should build a measure of ‘profit’ – AKA, funds – that will enable them to achieve their mission successfully. Administration and operation costs (such as bills, rent, and equipment) are necessary for day-to-day running. Without funds, organizations won’t have the infrastructure and staff they need in order to have a sustainable and measurable impact.

Food for thought: bigger charity organizations tend to have a bigger impact, which will require bigger organizational funding. At UNICEF, only 2.9% of our expenses go to admin costs and 8% go to paying for fundraising.

This means that more than 89% of our expenses are set aside for on-the-ground work.

Myth #2: Large charity organizations shouldn’t have paid staff

While volunteer work goes a long way, their involvement is often ad-hoc. Charity organizations inevitably require the services of qualified full-time staff, who are equipped to manage charity work well and achieve real transformation in communities. A seemingly ‘high salary’ line item on a charity’s budget does not imply misappropriation of funds. In fact, professional skills are required to make sure that funds are well spent to achieve charitable outcomes. Plus, the bigger the mandate of the organization, the bigger the need to have highly skilled staff.

Food for thought: A children’s charity is not ‘child’s play’ and should always be taken seriously.

UNICEF’s staff is made up of dedicated and talented individuals, who are passionate about building a better future for children everywhere.

Myth #3: Large charity organizations have large resources

People often assume that because charity organizations, like UNICEF, are well-known and often connected to global organizations, they require less funding from donors. UNICEF South Africa’s connection to UNICEF headquarters extends to the shared brand, campaigns, organizational structure, and core mission, but does not cover much of the financial requirements. Donations – particularly monthly donations – are still our primary financial resource.

Food for thought: The fewer donations UNICEF receives, the less we are able to transform children’s lives in South Africa.

UNICEF South Africa receives only 10% of its funding from UNICEF headquarters. The rest is dependent on local donations and pledge donors.

Myth #4: Large charity organizations won’t be impacted by my small donation

In an instant world, people like to see immediate, visible results. This is not always possible when it comes to individual donations to larger charities. However, because these charity organizations are often making large-scale reforms on the frontlines, every donation goes toward a valuable impact.

At UNICEF, donations help us have a voice where it really matters – as we strive to hold governments, policymakers, and those with power accountable. Regular small donations from many small donors help bring reform at both a governmental level and on the ground. It takes a village to save a child!

Food for thought: Ultimately, we aim to treat not only the immediate symptoms that threaten children’s rights, but also the longer-term causes.

At UNICEF South Africa, even small monthly donations enable us to address the ongoing challenges facing children and also equip us to deal with unexpected disaster relief and large-scale humanitarian crises.

Myth #5: Large charity organizations aren’t transparent about their spend

In fact, larger charity organizations are often held to a higher standard of accountability. As a global humanitarian organization, UNICEF is committed to transparency and accountability.

Food for thought: View UNICEF South Africa’s Annual Reports and budget briefs.

At UNICEF South Africa we believe that every child has a right to a future. Our commitment to children’s rights involves complete accountability and openness when it comes to our fiscal spend.

You can find out why UNICEF is one of the best and most trustworthy charity organizations to donate to.

Do you want to join us in saving the lives of South African children and advocating for their rights in South Africa?

Become a monthly donor!