Accountability & Aid in Afghanistan: Ensuring Donor Dollars Are Used Effectively & Transparently
The following resource helps to explain how we, as a volunteer-based charity, are able to undertake responsible, sustainable and well-managed development programming in the challenging environment of Afghanistan (this information is also available in the pdf file below).
- What has CW4WAfghan accomplished in Afghanistan?
- How do I know that my donation will help the projects in Afghanistan?
- How do I know that the organization is legitimate?
- Can you issue Income Tax Receipts?
- Has there been any improvement in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban?
- There are so many worthy charities. Why might I choose to support CW4WAfghan?
- What are the sources of funding for the organization?
1. What has CW4WAfghan accomplished in Afghanistan?
We're dedicated to human rights. Through our long-term commitment and effective education projects, CW4WAfghan has been able to improve the lives of tens of thousands of women and girls in Afghanistan. It is, however, the Afghans themselves who have accomplished the real ground-breaking change in their country: the millions of girls who head off to school every morning, or widows learning to read for the first time, the thousands of Afghan teachers who go to work every day, or teachers who graduate from our training and work hard to shape their charges' young minds. We, as Canadians, are proud of all the contributions we have made—our time, talents, resources, and funds—towards these remarkable accomplishments.
We have 13 chapters and 800 members. We have established a fabulous network of 800 Canadian members and thirteen volunteer community-based chapters all across Canada. Thanks to the hard work of our members, we have raised $6,000,000 to support women and girls in Afghanistan since 1996, and those funds come mainly from individual Canadian donors.
2. How do I know that my donation will help the projects in Afghanistan?
We're accountable. Afghanistan presents a complex and challenging environment in which to manage development projects. It’s true that corruption and waste can be rampant, and business opportunism often tries to pass for genuine charitable objectives. That’s why we’ve worked hard since our establishment in 1996 to constantly evolve a system of accountability. We use numerous policies, checks and tools to ensure financial accountability including the prevention of fraud, results for investment, sustainability of projects, and quality control. We closely monitor all projects, work with our partners to strengthen their capacity in areas such as good governance and project management, and we enforce a zero tolerance policy for financial mismanagement (click here to view our Anti-Corruption Policy). We are audited annually and our financial statements are publicly viewable on our website. Our Project Management Team, including our Country Director in Kabul and our Financial Officer in Canada regularly monitor expenditures, receipts and reporting. Close monitoring of all projects is facilitated by our 20-member staff team in Kabul.
We're small and therefore nimble. The small budgets of our projects make project operations manageable and allow us maximum control over their outcomes. We enjoy close collaborative relationships with our implementing partner organizations and we have an accurate picture of the evolution of our projects on a daily basis as a result of our hands on approach and our consistent interest in capacity building for better project results. Our Project Management Team applies their collective expertise in project management, budgeting and sustainable planning, and works closely with our team of Afghan field staff who manage our Country Office in Kabul. Both Canadian and Afghan team members contribute to monitoring and evaluation activities, regularly collecting data as projects are implemented, in order to evaluate progress towards results. The modest budgets of our projects help ensure resources are stretched to maximum effect, leaving little room for waste.
We're long-term. We select our partners carefully and then commit to supporting them for many years. These long-term relationships mean that we can build on results from one year to the next, continuously improving our methods and impact, and documenting our lessons learned. We can work with our partners to improve their capacity to run excellent projects and to meet new needs as they emerge. We understand and listen to our partners, who in turn understand the communities where they work, and we rely on mutual trust as the basis of these sustained relationships. Further, CW4WAfghan has a long-term presence in several provinces where we have implemented educational activities over a period of years, so we have a good grasp on local needs, challenges, as well as acceptance in the communities where we work.
We're volunteers. We do this work not for financial gain or credit, but because we are deeply committed to the human right to education and to standing by the women and girls of Afghanistan as they seek to empower themselves. We are ordinary people from all walks of life who give our skills and time to a common purpose. We want to see results from our work, and we want to be accountable to our many supporters and donors who have placed their trust in our project management.
We have low administrative (3%) and public engagement/operational costs in Canada (7%). Our staff, executive and volunteers all operate with minimal overhead, ensuring that funds are directed to the targeted programs and beneficiaries in Afghanistan. Our expenses are kept to a minimum through volunteer contributions, by maximizing in-kind services and by taking advantage of the cost-savings offered by modern means of electronic communication such as SKYPE, texting, email and social media tools, working from our own residences and reducing operation expenses for rent and utilities, etc. Because of this organizational structure, every dollar donated will be spent towards directly impacting the quality and sustainability of our education programs for Afghan women and girls and for CW4WAfghan as an organization. Please note that if donors choose to contribute using CanadaHelps.org, that website charges 4% for their service.
CW4WAfghan has a proven track record whereby all of our donor investments are well managed, systematically monitored and evaluated, and most importantly the funds produce direct and immediate results. CW4WAfghan practices the values of "small aid", whereby we operate with minimal overhead, ensuring that funds are directed to our targeted beneficiaries: Afghan women and girls.
3. How do I know that the organization is legitimate?
We are a registered Canadian charity. CW4WAfghan operates in good standing with the federal government (Canada Revenue Agency #887718203RR0001). We are also registered as a limited liability non-profit corporation through Industry Canada. We are audited annually and publicly disclose our audited annual statements. You can peruse this website to see our financial records as well as tracking of all donations from fundraising events held across the country. Revenue Canada enforces rigid accountability standards for registered charities. In Afghanistan, we are a registered international non-governmental organization with the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Finance, to whom we submit detailed financial and project reports every six months in Kabul. The Ministry of Economy also monitors our projects in the field.
4. Can you issue Income Tax Receipts?
We provide tax receipts. We provide CRA approved income tax receipts automatically for all donations of $30 or more. For donations under $30, we are happy to provide tax receipts upon request. As indicated above, our organization is run entirely by volunteers. Because the return is very minimal on small sums of money in terms of tax returns, and in order to save stationery and postage expenses associated with mailing receipts, we send income tax receipts for smaller amounts only upon request.
5. Has there been any improvement in Afghanistan since the overthrow of the Taliban? Am I throwing my money away?
We have lots of good news stories. Through our work as a non-profit organization with a long history working in Afghanistan, we see many positive improvements in Afghanistan on a regular basis through our work on the ground. We are very proud to see the incredible impact from our efforts through the dozen education projects we are supporting in any given year, and how this long-term commitment has provided tangible and meaningful support to Afghan women and their families. All projects are fully described on our website, in our annual Impact Reports, and in our regular newsletters.
Afghanistan continues to struggle with enormous challenges, and the media tends to focus substantially on those challenges. However, a more balanced report would celebrate such gains as the following:
- A new constitution and a democratically elected parliament have proven a foundation for democratic process. In 2014, Afghanistan held its third presidential elections, with high voter turnout, including among women – a clear signal from Afghans that they are ready to invest in the democratic process, and reject the authoritarianism of the Taliban, who tried and failed to deter people from voting with the threat of violence;
- Greater percentage of Afghan MPs are female than in Canada’s parliament; and the Afghan parliament is increasingly effective and efficient in passing legislation and serving as a check on the executive;
- 3 out of 4 children have been immunized against childhood disease;
- 8 in 10 Afghans now have access to basic medical services;
- Over 10 public universities are operational, with many more private universities, the American University of Afghanistan opened in Kabul several years ago, with more public universities expected to open in more remote provinces soon;
- Afghanistan has a thriving independent media sector, one of the post-Taliban period’s standout successes, and a great contributor to democratization. There are at least 7 national television stations and a lively media sector are serving as an important check on the government;
- The maternal mortality rate has decreased significantly since 2002; maternal mortality was estimated for the period 1999-2002 to be between 1,600 and 2,200 (mothers who died of pregnancy related causes per 100,000 live births). In 2010, the Afghanistan Mortality Survey found it had dropped to 329 per 100,000 births;
- The construction of numerous major highways, tunnels, bridges and road systems throughout the country have facilitated trade and economic growth;
- Major infrastructure development and repairs, and improved local governance in municipalities and provincial governments across the country;
- A reforming justice system as hundreds of laws are being revised and that has slowly increased protections for women and girls;
- Dramatically increased size and capacity of the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police and progress in training the security sector, including in delivering literacy classes to most soldiers and police;
- Significant progress in demining throughout the country, allowing people to return to farming, and to access previously unusable land;
- Over 8 million children are enrolled in the school system, including over 3 million girls;
- Women are visible in public life in many parts of the country – as politicians, media personalities, businesswomen and civil servants –and increasingly active in the political, economic and cultural spheres;
- Micro-credit and entrepreneurship support assistance is widely available to women and thousands of women have started businesses of all sizes and in diverse industries.
6. There are so many worthy charities. Why might I choose to support Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan?
We believe in the power of education. If you do too, we may be a good match for your support through our shared goals to make social change and create peace and social development through education. We are a group of Canadians working together to support human rights for Afghan women and girls. Our projects are all education-focused and we have a solid track record of results: we have contributed to quality education for thousands of students each year, and since 2008 have graduated over 5,500 teachers. We fund successful projects in teacher training, libraries, literacy programs, and community development. We document these results carefully to be able to measure the change we seek. We’re confident that to make lasting social change the best place to invest is in education, and specifically in the empowerment of girls and women and facilitating their access to literacy and educational opportunities. We know this from a wealth of scholarly research that proves it, and from having witnessed change every day on the ground in our projects as lives are profoundly transformed by the power of literacy and access to education opportunity. Decades of international development policy and practice have proven that when women and girls have an education, the whole society benefits. We invite you to be part of this change through your support.
7. What are the sources of funding for the organization?
Breaking Bread Potluck Dinners: CW4WAfghan benefits from contributions from communities across Canada through Breaking Bread Donations: Donations to CW4WAfghan each month come mainly from individual donors through our Breaking Bread fundraising initiative. Canadians participating in this fundraising project will host a dinner in their home or community, and strive to raise between $750 and $1500 to help pay teachers salaries and education resources for the projects we support. A full list of every event held since June 2002 (over 1200!) and the amount received for each dinner (averaging $750) is on our web site under SUPPORT where donors are able to confirm their donations have been received.
Sustaining our projects with help from our Monthly Donors and General Donations: Individual Canadian donors have set up a monthly donation or donate each year by cheque or online through CanadaHelps.com on a regular basis to help sustain our programs in Afghanistan.
Foundations and Institutional Donors: We have a close partnership with The Linda Norgrove Foundation in the UK, founded in memory of slain Scottish aid worker Linda Norgrove, working with them on the unique Afghanistan Reads! Community Library and Literacy Program, now also supported by USAID. In addition, we receive donations from several small community, private or family foundations in Canada, details of which may be found in our annual reports.
Government Funding: We have received funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) for teacher training project: Excel-erate (2008-2010 $500,000) and Fanoos (2011-2013 $500,000), as well as past support for several public engagement activities for CW4WAfghan members in Canada. In 2013, the Canadian Embassy in Kabul contributed $25,000 for the provision of School Science Lab Starter Kits for 25 schools in Parwan province, through the Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI). Funds have also been provided ($66,000) from the Government of Alberta’s Community Spirit Initiative for several projects supporting library and literacy activities in Kabul.
Author, Deb Ellis “The Breadwinner” Book Royalties: The royalties from "The Breadwinner" and "Parvana's Journey" by Canadian author Deb Ellis have been allocated to our projects supporting education in Afghanistan. An incredible amount of over $1,360,000 has been received since 2000 thanks to this generous commitment from Deborah Ellis. A portion (10%) of these royalties is used towards our operating and administration expenses.