Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lindsay Mitchell: Child sponsorship in NZ

Variety has started up a scheme for New Zealanders to sponsor a New Zealand child. The money involved is the same as international sponsorship - $35 monthly. I'm not going to write in criticism of the scheme. It's charitable and voluntary. Whether the 'need' being met could be sorted differently, or whether meeting the need will just grow more of it, are issues for consideration. But assuming donors have thought through these, it's their prerogative to give.

But this is what I want to highlight.

Variety chief executive Lorraine Taylor said donors could write to their sponsored child, receive regular updates about their health and wellbeing, and were provided with a breakdown at the end of the year detailing where their money went.
This is exactly why private charity trumps state aid. The charity has to be accountable, which in turn means the person receiving the donation has to be accountable. Real progress can be made.

So why not apply these principles to government assistance? Heavens no. Imagine the administrative costs, the invasion of privacy,  and the denial of human rights!

Imagine government having to report on the health and well-being of every individual child on a benefit. Some of the reports would be deeply disappointing and deeply disturbing. The donor would immediately withdraw or turn to a different charity with a better track record.

Oh but I forget. We are taxpayers, not willing donors. We must put up and shut up.

(The Greens say, "We shouldn't need to sponsor kids in NZ". An admission that their variety of caring and sharing must be monopolised by the state.)


Kiwiwit said...

One of the sillier Labour Party MPs (I forget her name) objected saying, "That's the Government's role!"

Really, have we got to the stage where charity should be outlawed?

Richard and Shane said...

Interesting thoughts Lindsay. We have sponsored children through World Vision for a number of years and have nagging concerns about the transparency of that organisation and what it really represents. One reason for this is that direct contact with the sponsored child is "through" World Vision. So we wish Variety well with their scheme. We would go further and suggest welfare is an ideal privatisation concept. Get rid of the self serving bureaucrats of WINZ etc, and have organisations like the City Mission and Salvation Army tender for provision of services. These would have measurable delivery outcomes. Contemporaneously we taxpayers should be allowed the option to choose to support particular transparent welfare delivery organisations directly, rather than have our proportion of tax allocated to vote WINZ to go wherever with no clear picture of its distribution or effectivemness. On that basis we could also do away with the bureaucratic costs associated with the paltry tax rebate on donations.

Bruce said...

In reply to Richard and Shane: For many years I had the responsibility for the accountability of World Vision sponsorships in Africa. Replace "Variety" with "World Vision" in the press release, and the parallels are obvious. Your sponsorship has made a huge difference for children and families. I'd expect Variety's plan to have great impact too.

Lindsay Mitchell said...


As a World Vision sponsor that's reassuring. Our sponsorship has endured because of the reports we receive about the work done in the child's community. And the fact that at some point the project is finished, and we are allocated someone new.

But the Variety concept is something else not least because, as Richard and Shane have touched on, our tax should already serve these purposes. I'd like to see private charity supplanting state assistance; not complementing it.

Anonymous said...

What really matters for our wellbeing is caring for others wellbeing so being able to follow up and watch how gift and charity really help is of most importance for our willigness to give. That should even our governments take to their heart. Our willigness to pay taxes needs to increase because otherwise we are all left on our own in diffilculties.

ishan said...

haha very interesting thoughts lindsay, got me thinking.

Thanks for a good read.

Keep writing!