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Your questions, answered.

Supporters attending Oxfam Connects 2012

Supporters attending Oxfam Connects 2012

At Oxfam, we love getting questions from our supporters: listening to you makes us
better at what we do.

Thank you, therefore, for your interesting and challenging questions. And thank you for taking the time to hear what we have to say.

  • Where does the money go? What percentage of the money that is donated to Oxfam goes into the hands of those that need it?

    It will not surprise you to know that we make every penny count while running a huge world changing organisation. 76 p of every £1 is spent on development work and emergency response, 7p on campaigning for change and getting politicians to take notice and take action, 7p on raising money we can put in the hands of those who need it, and only 10p on support and running costs.

    Want to know more? And go deeper into the topic in an interactive manner with photos, stories, and films from around the world that illustrate the difference your money makes? We have just the thing for you: our new interactive guide: Where Your Money Goes.

    And if you want even more detail, take a look at our Annual Accounts 2010-11. It will give you a complete breakdown of what we earn and how we spend it to help those who need it most. 

  • More and more people are concerned about the effects of giving on the people who receive aid. Can you reassure us that we are not doing more harm than good?

    We recognise that while aid is not sufficient by itself, it is most certainly necessary. And what's more, aid works! As the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof says aid is "a kind of lubricant, a few drops of oil in the crankcase of the developing world, so that gears move freely again on their own". 

    International aid is a vital component to reducing poverty and suffering. Aid saves the lives of millions of men, women and children in the aftermath of disasters and it transforms the lives of millions more by kick-starting economic growth, helping parents feed their families and providing vital healthcare. 

    Every year, humanitarian aid helps millions of people survive the most extreme disasters and conflicts, and development aid not only protects people from the worst effects of poverty, it also increases the options available to them and encourages enterprise. Aid pays for the roads and the ports. Aid pays to educate the entrepreneurs and business people of the future. A farmer who receives fertiliser and seeds paid for by aid can grow enough food for her family, and have a surplus to sell in the market to invest in educating her children and investing in new farm equipment to grow even more. All this contributes to economic growth. Growth means more taxes are raised, so poor country governments are able to pay their own way with less reliance on aid. Here is an example of what aid achieves:

    • 485 children are saved every day by mosquito nets and malaria medicines paid for by aid. That is the equivalent of 16 primary school classes.
    • Malaria costs the African economy £33 million-a-day. Eliminating malaria would boost economic growth by 1.2 per cent per year.

    Want to know more? Sign up for our new online course Aid Matters.

  • With an ever-increasing population, especially in areas already facing food shortages, are Oxfam and other agencies doing all they can to enable women to limit their family size?

    We believe that the key issue is not to limit family sizes, but to ensure that everyone has a quality education and equal voice in society so they can realise their sexual and reproductive rights. This will be achieved through both empowering women to decide when to have children and through government provision of free, comprehensive health services including sexual and reproductive health services.

    As such, our education programmes specialise in promoting the education of girls and marginalised communities, and support community involvement and social accountability in education.

    Find out more about Oxfam's work on women's rights.

  • What and how much is Oxfam doing to combat poverty in the currently hardest-hit areas of the UK?

    Oxfam's work in the UK focuses on supporting people experiencing poverty to build more secure livelihoods for themselves and to gain a stronger voice in influencing policies and services that affect them. Our programme includes some 40 projects across Great Britain. Here are some highlights from just the last year of our work within the UK:

    • We have helped to build a network of 15 BME (Black and Minority Ethic) women's organisations across the north of England with a total membership of some 300 people. This network is influencing service providers and helping their members develop local enterprises.
    • In partnership with the Trussell Trust, we are helping thousands of people facing destitution in north-west England to secure access to emergency food via food banks.
    • Our livelihoods support work in south Wales has helped around 100 women and young excluded people develop formal skills and help them move closer to securing jobs.
    • Over the last year we have helped 40 people working in Salford to secure their legal and employment status by moving from the informal "black" economy into formal work. This is a pilot project which is likely to influence national policy and practice.
    • The Cutswatch Cymru coalition, launched by Oxfam Cymru, is having a major impact on Welsh Government policies to mitigate the most harmful impacts of Welfare Reform.
    • Our Humankind Index, pioneered by Oxfam Scotland, is offering a radical new way of measuring human wellbeing that goes far beyond the  GDP measure used conventionally. This is attracting strong interest from policy makers and academics across Scotland and a number of other countries globally.

    We are also raising the profile of the UK Poverty Programme in three ways:

    1. By involving more assertive media work on policies affecting people experiencing poverty.
    2.  Having stronger story-telling work about our programmes.
    3.  Creating a new campaign on key issues affecting poverty.

     By using a combination of traditional and new media, political lobbying and public events we shall bring the realities of poverty in the UK closer to the public and politicians. We shall portray both the real challenges and problems faced by people in poverty and a realistic picture of the positive efforts people make to cope whilst facing real hardships.

    More information about our work in the UK

  • How does Oxfam ensure that aid is spent wisely, effectively and productively and not given to corrupt governments or businesses?

    Oxfam never gives money to governments. Oxfam works with local partner organisations in developing countries to deliver humanitarian and development assistance and is always  accountable to donors for how money is spent.

    Oxfam also works alongside governments that receive aid and governments that give aid, including the UK Government, to monitor how aid is best spent in the interest of poverty reduction.

    Want to know more? Sign up for our new online course Aid Matters.

  • How does Oxfam measure and monitor the effectiveness of its work? Is there external scrutiny?

    Oxfam spends a lot of time in monitoring the work it does and how effectively it uses the money it receives. This has always been the case, but the worsening economic climate has made us even more determined to do so - as such Oxfam works to a Global Performance Framework against which it reports on an annual basis. As part of this system, countries and regions report on the projects they have delivered during the year, these numbers are collated and summarised in Oxfam's Annual Report.

    Oxfam projects are required to undergo 6 monthly monitoring reviews and end of project evaluations. At the programme level, Oxfam's evaluation policy states that we will evaluate all major campaigns and programmes with a value of more that £1m, as well as all high profile or risky programmes. Process evaluations are also undertaken of all rapid-onset humanitarian responses, which aim to improve the quality of practice in 'real-time', as the response is developing. Additionally, as described above, a set of randomly selected projects are assessed each year using a specific and rigorous methodology that seeks to capture and quantify the impact that an Oxfam intervention has had on the lives of people involved in its projects.

    Oxfam has committed to the standards of the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) and therefore publishes a range of project information, including budgets. Evaluations are normally undertaken by external consultants, and they are all published on Oxfam's Policy and Practice website, so they are open to public scrutiny. Information entered into Oxfam's programme information system is periodically checked for quality by a central team.

    Want to know more about Oxfam's projects around the world? Explore our Policy and Practice website to read all our publications, evaluations and reports.

  • Where is Oxfam working around the world?

    Oxfam GB has country programmes in different countries around the world. Together with local partners, we work in 92 countries as part of the Oxfam International confederation, to tackle the root causes of poverty and respond to emergencies.

    Find out more about the countries we work in and the programmes we deliver

  • How can I get more involved with Oxfam?

    Many of you also asked about how to get more involved with Oxfam, either by volunteering, campaigning or fundraising.

    Want to move people to action and making governments take notice of the injustice in the world? Get involved in Campaigning. It'll just take a second.

    Want to get directly involved in the work that we do? Volunteering's just the ticket for you.

    Want to raise funds for our causes? Here's where you can do this.

    If you have more specific questions about what is going on in your region, please get in touch directly with your local Activism Coordinator or your Regional Fundraising Manager.

    Undecided exactly how you want to help? Visit our Get Involved page to learn more about the different ways you can help in the fight against poverty and injustice.