“So what makes you different?” It was a question I was asked at a summer barbecue last weekend and as I start my last 3 weeks as CEO at Action on Poverty I surprised myself at how easily the answer came;
1. we make a difference which is permanent in people’s lives. Unlike the charities which focus on the dying child, we focus on the long term, the key issue which is people’s ability to earn for themselves and live a life of dignity and self respect. For an investment of £50 per person, we change their lives for good. That’s less than £5 a month over a year to help someone escape poverty forever.
2. we have a very specific focus which has been on developing community based solutions to livelihood development with people who really are in the most marginalised situations. We don’t give out money, we don’t even give out loans. We provide a tried and tested methodology which enables people living in poverty to escape that poverty and earn a living for themselves and their family through building the capacity of local livelihood development focussed organisations.
3. we make sure that over over 95p of every £1 we raise goes to help those who need it most (the same figure for Oxfam is 74p). That means that we don’t have big offices, overseas staff, a huge marketing budget or telephone fundraisers. We simply try to raise what we need to run successful and effective projects whilst keeping our overhead costs as low as possible.
So yes there are bigger brands out there in the international charity world. But are there many who make a bigger proportional difference than Action on Poverty? Well if there are, I haven’t met them yet.
Chief Executive Officer