Your Questions About Foreign Requests Answered

Updated: Jan 26

Q: An overseas orphanage is asking for help. They sent me pictures of children I could support, assuring me I would receive updates. They even sent an image of their registration. What should I do?

A: There are many people doing good in the world seeking assistance. But, unfortunately, there's also a lot of corruption. So to be good stewards of the resources we have, we must evaluate the need and who is doing the asking.

This isn't always easy, as emotional requests are often compelling. We end up making a contribution and hope for the best. Support often continues because the effort to evaluate more than the immediate situation is beyond our scope. Further, it would be a big blow to us if we came to find we'd been duped.

Recognized charities with offices within our home country seem to be a safe way to start charitable giving and within our grasp to investigate. An organization like ours constantly seeks legitimate opportunities in other countries. We vet trusted indigenous partners to work alongside, and our accountability level produces a threshold of dignity that native aid workers desire. Other organizations that operate on foreign soil may employ aid workers or recruit volunteers to meet the practical needs of people throughout the world. Those organizations we know closely or associate with are likely responsible support venues since they provide updates on projects and financial accountability. In addition, looking at their compliance with government regulators can help you determine how they manage funds, as low compliance is an indicator of abuse or misdirected funds.

Q: But what about a request from those that exhibit a need and may not have the resources to represent themselves well? Don't they pose a huge opportunity to help those genuinely hurting?

A: Well… yes and no. While you might connect with a need through email, mailings, or social media, if the one requesting funds neglects common, law-abiding practices, then it is very likely that goodwill will end with a bad result.

Even a bad government may set these regulations; however, they will protect the donor and ultimately the vulnerable that the donation is meant to support. Why? No government wants to deal with a backlash of human rights watch groups exposing abuse, neglect, and corruption. (Especially true when world banks fund and western aid prop the operating expenses of their government).

Q: What about that certificate shown to me, or the pictures of the children… Are they real?

A: They are real, indeed. Real children, and actual paper. But they don't paint the whole picture. Local authorities routinely issue meaningless certificates for the right price. Children will pose for a camera under a banner when assembled for a piece of bread or during an outreach of a local house of worship.

As of this writing, over 50,000 unregistered orphanages are operating illegally in Uganda, taking in one-quarter of a billion dollars. Yet, local authorities have issued certificates for as little as $250, which provide the holder local protection to operate without question until regiona