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Keeping Aid Accountable: CalAid and Prism the Gift Fund

Keeping Aid Accountable: CalAid and Prism the Gift Fund
8th March 2017 Owen McCarthy
In Helping refugees

Keeping Aid Accountable: CalAid and Prism the Gift Fund

Accountability is important to us at CalAid.  So we want to share here CalAid’s charity structure and how our finances and work have been held accountable.

From the start, we wanted all CalAid’s funds to be held by experts in charity law, accountability and finance.  So since 2015 CalAid has been a “collective fund” housed in the UK charity, Prism the Gift Fund (charity number 1099682).  CalAid is one of about a hundred similar groups working under Prism’s umbrella – you can see a description of “collective funds” on Prism’s website and a list of some of the groups, including CalAid, here.  Now we’re up and running and have a great team in place, we’ve decided to apply to be an independent charity.  So in early February 2017 we submitted our application and will keep you updated on how the process goes.

Running CalAid as a Prism “collective fund” has meant we have been able to focus on reaching refugees, while Prism handles all the legal compliance and financial accountability.  Every single penny CalAid has raised has been held by Prism.  This means all our income and expenditure is scrutinised by an independent body and audited by independent accountants.  To spend any of our funds at all two Prism employees must approve payments as well as at least two people on the CalAid steering committee.  All the work of CalAid and the other “collective funds” is checked by, and the responsibility of, the Prism trustees.  This way we not only adhere to UK charity law, but also reach best practice in governance and financial controls.

This strong governance model, and our proven track record on the ground, has meant established NGOs like Oxfam, Médecins du Monde, Médecins Sans Frontières, the Salvation Army and UNHCR have collaborated with us in our work in Epirus, Greece.  We’re privileged to also work with great examples of the grassroots movement operating in Epirus, including Refugee Support Europe and One Refugee Child.

We are extremely grateful to Prism.  Because of them we have been able to focus on getting aid to France, Greece, Syria and Afghanistan from our base in the UK, and we have been able to provide relief and deliver education and health projects on the ground in Greece.  We have shipped over 350 tonnes of aid from our UK warehouses via commercial haulage with DHL, Fullers Logistics and Anglo-Greek Shipping, and via the public through hundreds of trucks, vans, cars, trailers and even a horse box.  We put a solar array onto one of the Sudanese schools in the Calais camp, distributed solar lighting to hundreds of the residents and funded shelter building materials.  We gave some of our funding to Calais Kitchens, Help Refugees, Care4Calais and Refugee Phones because we believe in working together.  Through local optician Manthos Group and local ophthalmologist Dr. Christos Gartzios we have so far provided eye tests to over 300 children in Greece and all further testing and glasses needed.  We’re just about to start rolling out the project for adults in the region too.  We built a school, provided social spaces, increased safety and improved the infrastructure at the Faneromeni refugee camp.  We currently deliver clothing, toiletries, shoes, blankets and more to the 13 refugee sites in the Epirus region in Greece.  We buy new underwear for all refugees in the region and we’re in the early stages of creating a refugee library project.

No one on the CalAid board, or any of the founders, have ever been paid for any of our work for CalAid.  We currently have four paid workers.  Nicky works on CalAid’s comms and finances, Dan manages our warehousing and distribution, Alex oversees our projects and volunteers, and Becky manages CalAid as a whole.  For us, the board and founders, running CalAid has cost us and our friends and families.  We have given our time, our money, our labour and remodelled our lives to fit around keeping the work going.  And rightly so.  We are responding to the need of people who have lost and sacrificed more than we can ever know.  We’re grateful to Prism for making this possible, but even more to the hundreds of amazing people who have stood beside us in warehouses, in distributions and kitchens, driven with us in trucks, cars and vans, helped us work out how best to meet the need.  We’re grateful to the hundreds of people who supported us through donations to give help and hope to thousands of people who needed it more.  Thank you to you all.

We’re always happy to hear from you.  If you have any questions at all about CalAid’s work or how we are run then please email us at info@calaid.co.uk

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