The World Vision controversy continues
Posted on February 23, 2011 at 12:53 pm
World Vision has been writing a series of posts explaining their gifts-in-kind (GIK) program on their blog. Their posts have been polite and provide a little more detail about their programs. Unfortunately, their explanations raise as many questions as they answer.
For instance, in their latest post The financial costs and benefits of sending shirts overseas, World Vision says that these particular t-shirts cost $0.58/shirt to send. This means that World Vision is paying approximately $0.58 x 100,000 or $58,000 to send these unwanted shirts overseas.
World Vision states:
“A quick survey of some of our staff overseas shows that the cost for medium-quality shirts ranges between $2-$3 (Myanmar) and $3-$8 (Mongolia) each. Comparing the World Vision GIK costs shown above and the most conservative estimate for local purchase of $2, there would be a difference of $1.42 per shirt. In this case, a person in need of the shirt would theoretically save $1.42 that could then be used to purchase other needed goods in the local market.”
This begs a few questions. First, where is the research that proves that without receiving these shirts the recipients would indeed purchase $2.00 shirts from the marketplace? Is there clear evidence of the critical need for a shirt per person or is it just one more shirt that they will now own? If these were really poor people, would they be purchasing “medium quality shirts” or something cheaper? And given the choice, would they purchase clothes at all or would they instead make do with what they already have and spend the money on something they felt was more critical? It’s a pretty big claim World Vision is making and they need a little evidence to back it up.
World Vision has already admitted in their response to Aid Watch that the quality and rigor of needs assessments vary from country to country and that they have not done an overall assessment of the need for gifts-in-kind. They also admit to having no overall evaluation of the impact of their GIK programs.
I am still shocked that World Vision has never done a multi-country evaluation or meta-evaluation of the impact, efficacy, and efficiency of their GIK program which is one quarter of their annual “revenue”. Although they claim GIK is not a program but part of other program, at $251 million a year, or more than $1 billion over the course of three years, it would seem both prudent and professional to evaluate such a large part of their work – however you want to classify it. At $251 million per year, the amount World Vision claims in GIK is more than the annual revenue of most nonprofits in the United States.
See Tracking the World Vision / NFL Shirt Donation Controversy for all posts on this debate.