Private char­ity out­paces, out­per­forms gov’t for­eign aid

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - By Tom Carter

For more than 10 years, Pas­tor Kirk­land Wal­ton of St. Peter’s Bap­tist Church in Glen Allen, Va., has passed a sep­a­rate col­lec­tion plate for Africa on Sun­days.

That of­fer­ing is then passed on to Africare, a char­ity that was just awarded four stars, Char­ity Nav­i­ga­tor’s top rank­ing, for de­liv­er­ing more than 90 per­cent of each dol­lar it re­ceives to Africans in need.

“The African-Amer­i­can com­mu­nity has al­ways been in the trenches in our own com­mu­nity, and we un­der­stand that there is a tremen­dous need to re­mem­ber our brothers and sis­ters in Africa,” Mr. Wal­ton said.

In the past five years, Africare has given more than $300,000 in do­na­tions from black churches through­out the United States.

“Peo­ple know that when they give to Africare, they’re in­vest­ing di­rectly in pro­grams that reach the peo­ple of Africa,” said Africare Pres­i­dent Julius E. Coles.

Ac­cord­ing to Africare and cer­ti­fied by Char­ity Nav­i­ga­tor, more than 93 cents of ev­ery dol­lar spent by Africare dur­ing the 2006 fis­cal year went to pro­gram-re­lated ex­penses — about $37 mil­lion spent on de­vel­op­ment work and hu­man­i­tar­ian aid.

Char­ity Nav­i­ga­tor lists more than 100 char­i­ties deal­ing with some as­pect of Africa — food, wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion, HIV, per­se­cuted Chris­tians, sav­ing wildlife — and 44 earned four-star rat­ings.

Africare — which is funded in part by U.S. gov­ern­ment money, dozens of other Africa char­i­ties and parishes such as Mr. Wal­ton’s — is just one ex­am­ple to il­lus­trate that Amer­i­cans are hands-down the most gen­er­ous peo­ple on the planet.

In 2005, Amer­i­cans do­nated more than $95 bil­lion to the de­vel­op­ing world. That is al­most four times what the U.S. gov­ern­ment gives in for­eign aid and many times more than what Euro­peans give in pub­lic and private do­na­tions, ac­cord­ing to a study by the Hud­son In­sti­tute, to be re­leased this month.

“There is a whole new world of phi­lan­thropy out there, and it is be­ing led by the United States,” said Carol Adel­man, di­rec­tor of the Hud­son In­sti­tute’s Cen­ter for Global Pros­per­ity.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment is of­ten crit­i­cized for be­ing stingy. De­spite spend­ing more than $2.3 tril­lion in de­vel­op­ment aid since the early 1960s, it ranks just 23rd among the top 25 de­vel­oped na­tions in terms of gov­ern­ment aid as a per­cent­age of na­tional in­come. Private donors step in

But since 1990, private phi­lan­thropy has far ex­ceeded gov­ern­ment fund­ing. U.S. private donors coughed up an es­ti­mated $95.2 bil­lion in 2005 — nearly four times the $27.6 bil­lion spent in of­fi­cial for­eign aid — for schools, or­phan­ages, med­i­cal clin­ics, sup­plies and other de­vel­op­ment pro­grams in Africa, Latin Amer­ica, Rus­sia, East­ern Europe and Asia.

Bill and Melinda Gates and War­ren Buf­fett got the head­lines for private pledges of bil­lions of dol­lars in health and ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams abroad, but much more comes from or­di­nary, church­go­ing Amer­i­can fam­i­lies.

“It comes down to re­li­gios­ity, those who go to church. Those who go to church do­nate more than those who don’t,” Mrs. Adel­man said.

Ac­cord­ing to Arthur C. Brooks, au­thor of “Who Re­ally Cares: Amer­ica’s Char­ity Di­vide, Who Gives, Who Doesn’t and Why it Mat­ters,” 91 per­cent of peo­ple who at­tend reg­u­lar re­li­gious ser­vices do­nate to some char­ity or an­other each year, as op­posed to 66 per­cent who rarely or never go to church.

“Re­li­gious peo­ple do­nate more money than non­re­li­gious ones, even to sec­u­lar causes. And since Amer­ica is a more re­li­gious na­tion than are most Euro­pean democ­ra­cies, char­i­ta­ble giv­ing here oc­curs at a higher rate,” Mr. Brooks writes.

Of­fi­cial gov­ern­ment aid is usu­ally cal­cu­lated as a per­cent­age of gross na­tional in­come (GNI), for­merly known as gross na­tional prod­uct, or GNP.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment de­votes just 0.22 per­cent of its GNI to for­eign aid, while Nor­way’s gov­ern­ment, which ranks No. 1, gives 0.94 per­cent.

How­ever, in to­tal amounts, the United States gov­ern­ment and private donors spent nearly $123 bil­lion in over­seas as­sis­tance in 2005, six times more than any other na­tion. Bri­tain fol­lowed in sec­ond place with $19.8 bil­lion and Ja­pan in third with $19.68 bil­lion.

“Amer­i­can col­leges and univer­si­ties give more in schol­ar­ships to for­eign stu­dents than Nor­way, Fin­land, Swe­den or Den­mark each gives in [to­tal] for­eign aid,” said Mrs. Adel­man.

Col­leges and univer­si­ties do­nated $4.6 bil­lion in for­eign schol­ar­ships in 2005. Churches and re­li­gious or­ga­ni­za­tions gave $5.4 bil­lion. Sec­u­lar or­ga­ni­za­tions gave an es­ti­mated $16.2 bil­lion, which in­cludes vol­un­teer time, or the la­bor of Amer­i­cans who trav­eled abroad to build churches and schools, or work in clin­ics. Money for home

By far the largest fig­ure in U.S. private do­na­tions came from re­mit­tances, money that im­mi­grants send home. Ac­cord­ing to the Hud- son study, U.S. im­mi­grants sent home — mostly to Latin Amer­ica — $61.7 bil­lion in re­mit­tances in 2005. In other words, two-thirds of U.S. private phi­lan­thropy over­seas is in the form of re­mit­tances from le­gal and il­le­gal im­mi­grants.

Us­ing fig­ures from the In­terAmer­i­can De­vel­op­ment Bank, the World Bank and the U.S. Bureau of Eco­nomic Anal­y­sis, the Hud­son study found that the es­ti­mated 12.6 mil­lion im­mi­grants liv­ing in the United States earn about $500 bil­lion a year, and more than 10 per­cent of that is sent home.

“Some peo­ple say we should not in­clude th­ese fig­ures, be­cause that is just fam­ily mem­bers giv­ing to fam­ily, but the stud­ies clearly show that re­mit­tances re­duce poverty,” Mrs. Adel­man said.

She said there is no way to de­ter­mine if the im­mi­grants send­ing re­mit­tances home are le­gal or il­le­gal im­mi­grants, but the 12 mil­lion fig­ure is of­ten used to de­scribe the num­ber of il­le­gal aliens in the United States.

Mrs. Adel­man said the for­eignaid com­mu­nity is loath to in­clude re­mit­tance fig­ures, be­cause it un­der­mines the ar­gu­ment that more gov­ern­ment for­eign aid is needed.

“Re­gard­less of the mo­tive, re­mit­tances are re­duc­ing poverty, and it is a sig­nif­i­cant flow,” she said. “Re­mit­tances are prob­a­bly the great­est poverty-re­duc­ing agent in the world to­day.”

Re­gard­less of their sta­tus, she said, Latin Amer­i­can im­mi­grants in the United States are do­nat­ing in church, form­ing home­town as­so­ci­a­tions, hold­ing bake sales, col­lect­ing do­na­tions and par­tic­i­pat­ing in “tra­di­tional Amer­i­can phi­lan­thropy.”

And Latin Amer­i­can im­mi­grants tend to be re­li­gious. Many are de­vout Catholics and fol­low the pat­tern that re­li­gious peo­ple tend to give.

Jeremiah Nor­ris, also at the Hud­son In­sti­tute and a re­searcher on the re­port, said that the re­mit­tance num­ber is un­der­es­ti­mated by as much as 50 per­cent.

“This num­ber does not count the ma­te­rial goods sent home — the Nike sneak­ers, or re­frig­er­a­tors and ap­pli­ances that are sent home,” he said.

Some or­ga­ni­za­tions are un­com­fort­able with the Hud­son find­ings, but “our num­bers have not been

chal­lenged,” Mr. Nor­ris said. He also main­tained that private aid is far more ef­fi­cient than re­lief that is con­trolled and dis­trib­uted by the gov­ern­ment. Much money, lit­tle ef­fect

In March, a Cana­dian gov­ern­ment com­mit­tee on for­eign af­fairs con­cluded that, af­ter 40 years of aid, lit­tle has been done with its $12.4 bil­lion in bi­lat­eral as­sis­tance to pro­pel Africa from eco­nomic stag­na­tion or to im­prove the qual­ity of life on the con­ti­nent, Mr. Nor­ris said.

The com­mit­tee found that Canada’s In­ter­na­tional De­vel­op­ment Agency was in­ef­fec­tive and or­dered an im­me­di­ate re­view, with the pos­si­bil­ity of clos­ing it down or fold­ing it into an­other agency.

A study pro­duced by the Cato In­sti­tute, a lib­er­tar­ian think tank, in 2006 — ti­tled “Does For­eign Aid Help?” — con­cluded that “the em­pir­i­cal ev­i­dence on the ef­fec­tive­ness of for­eign aid is dis­cour­ag­ing.”

The Cato re­port by Simeon Djankov, Jose G. Mon­talvo and Marta Rey­nal-Querol said that “re­cent lit­er­a­ture [. . . ] pro­vides am­bigu­ous re­sults on whether [gov­ern­ment] for­eign aid helps or hin­ders de­vel­op­ing coun­tries.”

In fact, “for­eign aid has had a neg­a­tive im­pact on the demo­cratic stance of de­vel­op­ing coun­tries, and on eco­nomic growth by re­duc­ing in­vest­ment and in­creas­ing gov­ern­ment con­sump­tion,” said the study.

An­other prob­lem is that U.S. gov­ern­ment aid is tied up with mul­ti­ple le­gal con­straints. Food aid pur­chased with U.S. tax dol­lars, for ex­am­ple, must be bought from Amer­i­can farm­ers and shipped on U.S. ships. In­ef­fi­cient aid

This makes U.S. food aid far more ex­pen­sive than if it were bought in the re­gion, and in the event of a drought, it takes much longer to reach those in need. In ad­di­tion, food aid bought in the re­gion could put money in the pock­ets of the farm­ers most in need and prime the lo­cal econ­omy.

Rep. Jim McDer­mott, Wash­ing­ton Demo­crat, touched on this is­sue when he re­ported to his col­leagues in tes­ti­mony in 2003 re­gard­ing the HIV epi­demic in Africa “that 53 cents out of ev­ery dol­lar that we put out for AIDS never left Wash­ing­ton, D.C.”

But it is not all Wash­ing­ton’s or Lon­don’s fault.

In his new book “The Bot­tom Bil­lion,” Ox­ford econ­o­mist Paul Col­lier dis­sects the fail­ure of for­eign benev­o­lence to drag the de­vel­op­ing world out of poverty.

Mr. Col­lier iden­ti­fies cor­rupt gov­ern­ments as one of sev­eral prob­lems. In one heart­break­ing ex­am­ple, he fol­lowed funds re­leased by Chad’s Min­istry of Fi­nance to rural health clin­ics. Just 1 per­cent reached the in­tended. Ninety-nine per­cent went into the pock­ets of cor­rupt of­fi­cials.

As a re­sult, Mr. Nor­ris said, more than 50 per­cent of health care de­liv­ered in Africa is de­liv­ered by mis­sion­ar­ies work­ing for private char­i­ties.

“The pros­e­ly­tiz­ing end has di­min­ished. They are re­ally fo­cused on de­vel­op­ment,” he said.

“We do not op­pose gov­ern­ment aid,” the Hud­son In­sti­tute’s Mrs. Adel­man said. “I don’t say that all gov­ern­ment aid is a waste of money, just that cer­tain forms don’t work.”

Dis­as­ter re­lief has worked pretty well, she said. Na­tional-se­cu­rity sup­port funds, such as the aid that has gone to Is­rael, Egypt and more re­cently Pak­istan, “has a mixed record.”

“It is de­vel­op­ment aid that hasn’t worked very well at all,” she said.

But Mrs. Adel­man said she is op­ti­mistic, be­cause Amer­i­can churches, mosques and syn­a­gogues have stepped into the gap.

“We are very pos­i­tive about what is go­ing on in the private sec­tor re­gard­ing giv­ing. We are very high on churches. It is the private sec­tor where the ac­tion is, where the fu­ture is.”

Africare is one of the high­est-rated char­i­ties on Char­ity Nav­i­ga­tor. In five years, Africare has been given $300,000 by black churches.

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