Oxfam Hong Kong has always relied on individuals – it was volunteers who set up the agency in 1976 in Hong Kong, and it is individuals who keep it running: staff, volunteers, campaigners and donors.
Over 90 per cent of our funds come from the public. In the 2015/16 fiscal year, public donations reached close to HK$247 million, or 96.8 per cent of our total income.
Oxfam Hong Kong aims to allocate as much funds as possible to programmes. In the 2015/16 fiscal year, overall programme expenditure amounted to HK$227 million, representing 84 per cent of total expenditure. Management and administrative cost represented 3.9 per cent while fundraising and marketing costs represented 11.1 per cent. Together with all our supporters, we implemented a total of 910 projects in 45 countries and regions, and more than 7.2 million people were benefited from our poverty alleviation work last year.
Most of our donors are individuals, and many give what they can every month. These 100,000-plus monthly donors provide us with a high degree of autonomy, flexibility, integrity and stability, and we provide them with regular updates, reports, invitations to workshops, and an annual gathering with our staff.
Oxfam Hong Kong does not receive regular funding from the Hong Kong SAR Government. We only ever receive funds for specific emergency efforts, and we apply for those funds from the Hong Kong SAR Government Disaster Relief Fund (DRF). During the 2015/16 year, the DRF granted us HK$ 3.09 million for our responses to floods in Southern India.
Oxfam Hong Kong is also not a subsidiary of an international body. We are an independent development and relief agency base in Hong Kong. We do not receive regular funding from any overseas headquarters. Funding support from Oxfam affiliates generally only comes for specific projects (In 2015/16, this totaled HK$0.92 million.)
To be transparent and accountable, we have prepared this FAQ on how Oxfam Hong Kong uses donations. We hope it is clear and helpful.
If you have questions, please contact us at 3120 5000 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
These financial highlights are based on Oxfam Hong Kong's financial accounts for the year ended 31 March 2016. The full audited financial statement by KPMG could be downloaded here. All figures are in Hong Kong dollars.
1) How does Oxfam Hong Kong make sure that donations are properly spent?
A. For programmes with poor people in Hong Kong, Mainland China and overseas, monitoring and evaluation procedures are an important part of an integrated cycle of activity.
- The cycle includes a needs assessment, project plan development, an appraisal, implementation, monitoring, and the evaluation of projects.
- Each stage is conducted by colleagues of Oxfam, together with our partners and the beneficiaries themselves.
- External consultants evaluate the impact as needed.
- Professionals from like-minded organisations help conduct peer reviews as needed.
- Financial accountability procedures are managed by colleagues at our field offices in several countries and by the colleagues at the head office in Hong Kong.
B. When we make a public appeal for a specific humanitarian disaster, after deducting the direct fundraising cost, all donations raised from the public go to the urgent work at hand.
- When Oxfam Hong Kong responds to an emergency and makes a public appeal, we set up a separate bank account. We cover core operational costs from our central funds. After deducting the direct fundraising cost for the appeals, all donations raised go to relief and rehabilitation projects, including the respective programme monitoring and management costs.
- A programme management system ensures that the money is spent on the emergency: from supplying urgently needed relief items to rebuilding homes and community infrastructures and restoring people livelihoods, all in a sustainable way. This management system includes an assessment of needs, appraisals of project proposals, the monitoring of the expenditure, and the preparation of progress reports. One practical policy in place is that relief items are sourced as locally as possible – this supports the local people affected by the crisis and reduces transportation and other logistical costs.
- Auditor's reports are produced for any grant contributed by the DRF. Unspent funds granted by the fund are returned to the government.
- Should there be any unused donations from the emergency appeal, Oxfam Hong Kong will use the funds for other emergency, rehabilitation or community development work in other countries and regions.
C. Oxfam Hong Kong's governing bodies – the Council and Executive Committee – are made up of community members who volunteer their time and expertise.
These community members guide our staff in implementing projects and in monitoring the expenditure of the projects. Our colleagues report to the Council and Executive Committee via unit reports, financial statements and audit reports.
The Council approves and monitors year plans, budgets, and mid-year and annual financial reviews, sets guidelines on fundraising and grants, and monitors whether these guidelines are being observed; the Executive Committee, appointed by the Council, makes executive decisions.
D. Our Reserve Policy requires us to hold general reserves equivalent to three to six months of total unrestricted expenditures to provide leeway for any significant and unexpected downturn in revenues, to ensure that programmes can continue as planned.
E. Oxfam Hong Kong is legally registered in Hong Kong and must abide by Hong Kong law. Our programmes launched elsewhere must also follow the laws of the respective countries.
2) How much of my dollar goes to poor people?
In 2015/16, Oxfam Hong Kong’s administrative costs stood at 3.9 per cent and fundraising and marketing costs at 11.1 per cent.
Oxfam Hong Kong has many practices in place to keep administrative and fundraising costs as low as possible, such as:
- We encourage our donors to donate monthly; this reduces appeals work by a lot and can keep both fundraising and administrative costs to a minimum.
- Thousands of volunteers also donate their time; they do a significant part of our data input, translate many texts, and help run our second-hand shop. More than 3,000 volunteers help at our annual Oxfam Trailwalker event, and another 3,000 people at the annual Oxfam Rice Sale.
- We pool resources with other Oxfam affiliates for major emergencies, large-scale programmes, and global advocacy (such as against climate change).
- We always seek free or discounted space in newspapers, magazines, the MTR, tunnel crossings, shops, and so on to minimise promotional costs. We seek sponsors for the printing of materials.
3) What constitutes your administration cost?
Oxfam Hong Kong complies with the Oxfam Confederation Financial Standards and the International Non-Governmental Organisations Accountability Charter. Management and administration expenses contributed to the organisation’s governances, financial management and information technology systems, audit and legal services.
4) What about audits?
The financial statements of Oxfam Hong Kong are audited in accordance with the Hong Kong Standards on Auditing, issued by the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Each year, our external auditor forms an independent opinion on whether the financial statements give a true and fair view of the state of Oxfam’s affairs, and of its surplus/deficit of income over expenditure and cash flows, in accordance with the Hong Kong Financial Reporting Standards. It also forms an opinion on whether these have been properly prepared in accordance with the Hong Kong Companies Ordinance.
Oxfam has established an internal audit team aimed at providing assessments of its internal processes. The establishment of the internal audit team enables Oxfam to evaluate and improve the effectiveness of its risk management practices, control framework and governance processes. The internal audit team reports directly to the Finance and Audit Committee of the Council, which is chaired by an honorary treasurer.
5) How can I learn more about Oxfam's use of funds?
Oxfam Hong Kong communicates details of its use of funds through various channels, such as:
- Our publications (annual reports, Oxfam Books, Oxfam Express, Oxfam e-News and the Oxfam Blog)
- Our main web site and minisites (e.g. that for Oxfam Trailwalker)
- Articles in the mass media
- Direct mailing materials
- Trips to project sites for supporters (e.g. volunteers, Trailwalkers, and monthly, major and corporate donors)
- The Oxfam Supporters Gathering (for donors and volunteers)
6) Are my contributions tax-deductible? (Applicable to Hong Kong residents only.)
To encourage donations, the Hong Kong SAR Government exempts up to 35 per cent of assessable income or profits on donations to recognised charitable organisations. Oxfam Hong Kong is one of these organisations. If your total donation (in money terms) for the year exceeds HK$100, your contribution(s) to Oxfam Hong Kong are tax-deductible as per the Inland Revenue Ordinance.