The recent Oxfam scandal is the perfect example of a reputation hard won and easily lost, as over the weekend they were left scrambling to contain a scandal that could cost them their funding. In the wake of this, the International Development Secretary has stated that she will be cracking down on the aid sector in relation to safeguarding all aspects of charity work.
What is the Oxfam scandal about?
Oxfam was accused on Friday of their aid workers paying prostitutes, some of which were potentially underage, whilst providing assistance in Haiti in 2011. This has resulted in the launch of an inquiry by the Charity Commission into how truthful Oxfam has been in disclosing information regarding sexual abuse there. Following this, the charity’s deputy chief executive, Penny Lawrence, resigned with the statement that she took “full responsibility” and was deeply “ashamed” at how Oxfam handled staff behaviour.
This has since been followed up with allegations by Oxfam’s former head of safeguarding, Helen Evans, that the abuse is also prevalent for teenage volunteers in UK Oxfam stores, and said that what happened in Haiti was not an “isolated incident”. She went on to blast bosses who ignored her evidence and pleas for more assistance in tackling abuse, which caused her to eventually quit and said that she believed Oxfam was intentionally covering up further incidents. Further evidence of prostitutes being used in Chad in 2006 only deepens the scandal at hand.
How could this affect other charities?
In the wake of the scandal involving one of the UK’s largest and most recognised charities, members of the public have since admitted that they are now doubtful about donating to any charity at all. They raise concerns such as not knowing what occurs behind the scenes, the wages paid to executives, and expressed doubt over how much donated money reaches the intended cause.
International Development Secretary, Penny Mordaunt, has stated that she will be setting up a dedicated unit to “urgently review safeguarding across all parts of the aid sector”, whilst Daniel Fluskey of the Institute of Fundraising, stated that charities need to focus on inspiring public trust and confidence “in all areas”, and that they are “open and transparent” to avoid repercussions from officials and public alike.