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Saturday, March 5, 2011

World Vision Responds

World Vision, one of the world’s largest relief organizations, which serves almost 100 million people around the world, was recently criticized for irresponsible gift giving. World Vision planned to give 100,000 unwanted, misprinted NFL t-shirts leftover from the Super Bowl to Zambia, Armenia, Nicaragua and Romania. Donating free t-shirts puts the local people who sell clothes out of business, and is not a long-term solution to poverty, as communities just become more dependent on charity. For more detail on the story, read GlassFrog’s recent post on the issue.

Despite World Vision’s pleas for its employees and employees of associated companies to not blog about the issue, piles of articles and blogs have been written, criticizing World Vision and challenging them to justify their actions. So what was their response? Jeffery Wright, operations director for humanitarian and emergency affairs for World Vision, gave a number of statements about the situation:

On bloggers who have criticized World Vision…
“We need to take this seriously … [They] are raising good points. We do need to be using all of the resources at our disposal to do the best possible aid we can do.”

On how the market value of the t-shirts was calculated…
“World Vision hasn’t valued this year’s donation of NFL-related clothing because we have not received the products yet. Unfortunately, the numbers listed in the blog post and a press release shouldn’t have been released – they were rough estimates that weren’t related to each other and don’t reflect how World Vision will value the clothing.”

On World Vision’s use of gifts in kind (GIK)…
“Will we change our GIK practices immediately? … I can’t promise that. But I can promise that we absolutely will take it seriously”
“The GIK issue is bigger than just World Vision. Accepting such gifts is standard practice throughout the foreign aid community, and there are other organizations that accept GIK in far greater proportions than World Vision does”

On whether World Vision has evaluated if the t-shirt-giving program they have done with the NFL for the past 15 years has allowed for sustainable development in developing countries…
The short answer is “no” because the Super Bowl clothing isn’t a program. It’s a donation. We evaluate the results of our programs.  Some programs are successful. Others less so.  But their success is based on the quality of the program’s assessment, design and implementation, not solely on the use of one tool or another.
Many of the programs where we use GIK have been enormously successful in facilitating good, sustainable development.  Our evidence for that would be individual program evaluations from a variety of national offices, but we can provide some examples if those are helpful.

Sources/more reading:

GlassFrog blogger, Sherisse 

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