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Public trust in the Irish charity sector has undoubtedly been rocked in recent years, as the actions of a small minority of organisations have left many people questioning the value of supporting charities. 

As recipients of public donations and government funding, all charities must be held accountable to our donors, to the public and to the people that we serve. Aidlink absolutely condemns the abuse of charitable funds and it is deeply disappointing that the actions of a small number of organisations have impacted on the reputation of the sector as a whole, while the vast majority of charitable organisations operate with integrity and professionalism, providing high-quality, essential services to people in need.  Aidlink fully supports the Charities Institute Ireland’s statement on best practice and remains committed to good corporate practice, procedures and effective governance, to ensure that we reach the highest standards of accountability, transparency and public trust.

Donating your time, money or other services to a charity working towards a goal you believe in is a generous and meaningful way to contribute to positive social change. But it is important to make an informed choice. This excellent list of “relevant questions to ask before donating” comes from GoodCharity.ie  and is a great way to gain a clearer picture of the quality of a charitable organisation.

Is it in fact listed on the Register of Charities?

Aidlink is registered with the Charities Regulatory Authority, see here.

Is the charity trying to address a real need?

Aidlink works to alleviate poverty in Africa, specifically Kenya, Uganda and Ghana. Aidlink works with some of the world’s poorest and most isolated communities in the world, where access to basic resources such as water, sanitation, health, education and food remain a major challenge.

Does the charity’s approach to addressing that need make sense?

Aidlink works through a cost effective, impactful and sustainable model known as the partnership model. We believe the key to long-term development is a strong and vibrant African civil society, whereby local people are empowered to tackle poverty and catalyse change. From a small HQ in Dublin, Aidlink works through partnership, meaning there are no Aidlink staff or Aidlink offices located in Africa. Instead Aidlink partners with local, African community based organisations, through which our projects are delivered. Aidlink also commits to the development and capacity building of our partner organisations; training staff, training boards of management and funding organisational development, to build strong, sustainable, independent, local organisations that can lead development in their own communities. For more on our partnership approach to development see here.

What has the charity achieved to date?

In 2016 alone, working throughout Kenya, Uganda and Ghana, the Aidlink Development Programme brought cleaner and safer drinking water to 15,000 people, delivered water, sanitation and hygiene improvements to 52 primary schools, made improved Mother and Child Healthcare available to 36,000 mothers and 115,000 children and trained 596 farming households in the necessary skills to improve food and income security. For more on our achievements in recent years see our annual reports here.

Does the charity use quality research to learn and improve?

Aidlink engages in rigorous monitoring and evaluation to ensure that we can continue to learn, improve and best serve communities with quality programmes. Aidlink engages in both internal and external, independent evaluations and publishes findings and reports publicly on our website. For more see here.

Is the charity signed up to the Governance Code?

Aidlink meets the Triple Lock standards of Charities Institute Ireland and has formally adopted the Dóchas Code of Corporate Governance. For more on governance see here.

Does the charity have good leadership?

Aidlink is governed by a voluntary Board of Directors with a range of relevant professional backgrounds, recruited using a number of platforms most notably Boardmatch.ie. The Board of Directors are responsible for providing leadership, strategic direction, financial oversight, and good governance. See our board member’s professional biographies here.

Does the charity have good volunteers and/or paid staff?

Day to day operations of the organisation are managed by the Executive Director who is appointed by the Board. Three staff members report to the Executive Director; the Senior Programme Officer, the Grants Officer and the Communications and Administration Officer. The team is occasionally assisted by volunteer interns. All staff members and volunteers are suitably qualified, trained and supported to carry out their duties.

 Do the people using the charity’s services have a say in how it is run?

Participation is a fundamental principle of Aidlink’s approach to development. Aidlink encourages and promotes this approach at all stages of the partnership process and in all aspects of project implementation. The principle of participation also applies to partners in Ireland and Aidlink works with them to ensure they can actively participate in the work of the organisation. For more on our partnership approach to development see here.

Has the charity signed up to the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising?

Aidlink has formally signed up to the Statement of Guiding Principles for Fundraising, see our Donor Charter here.

Is the charity transparent about its finances?

Aidlink’s 2016 annual report and financial statements are available here and reports dating back to 2008 are available here. Our annual report and financial statements are prepared in line with the Statement of Recommended Practice for Financial Reporting by Charities (SORP) including disclosure of the Executive Director’s Salary.

We are proud of our extremely high standard of financial reporting, as demonstrated by the shortlisting of our annual reports for the Chartered Accountants Ireland Published Accounts Awards in both 2016 and 2015.

Is the charity financially secure?

At the end of the most recent financial year (2016) Aidlink held total funds of €435,721 of which €25,532 were restricted funds and €410,189 were unrestricted funds. Unrestricted funds, considered Aidlink’s reserve funds, exceed Aidlink’s six month reserve policy, representing approximately 24 months’ operating costs. See here (page 35).

Does the charity manage its finances and operations well?

Aidlink’s finances and operations are managed to a high standard. Aidlink is audited annually by Deloitte, and annual reports and financial statements dating back to 2008 are available here. Aidlink’s operations are managed within the context of strategic plans, current plan 2017-2021 available here. Aidlink manages projects and programmes using a results-based-management system, ensuring results are monitored and reported against targets and budgets, and that all activities contribute of the organisation’s strategic objectives.

 Does the charity make efficient use of its resources?

As per the Statement of Recommended Practice for Financial Reporting by Charities (SORP), in 2016 Aidlink expended 95.9% of funds on charitable activities and expended 4.1% of funds on fundraising. See here, page 54 and 55, for a detailed breakdown of expenditure.

 If you have more questions or require more information about how Aidlink operates feel free to contact us: info@aidlink.ie or 01 473 6488