I have seen WV's work first hand in Uganda & Rwanda. The holistic economic development model they are implementing in their area development programs is incredible. The people they employ are 95% in country employees which I find to be superior to other organizations because they aren't sending westerners to these countries. I have also sponsored many children over the years through their sponsorship programs. It's not perfect and none of them are, but when you look at scale and impact of your money, $1 becomes more like $5 because they can influence local governments and make large scale change because they go into communities for 15+years at a time. Working on poverty is difficult, and if the Clinton Global Initiative and The Gates Foundation and Tom's Shoes is working with WV, I think they must be doing a darn good job.
I have experience evaluating 2 projects of WVI, one in Africa and one in Montenegro. They are a good org. and having been around HQ., I can say they are not top-heavy in administrative costs. They do not force Christianity on anyone, in my experience. The beneficiaries in the Montenegro project were Muslim, and they were not even aware that WV is a Christian org. They approach development in an anthropological sound way--again, in my experience.
This organization misleads their donors about how much money goes to the end recipient. They say they only spend 15% on overhead, but that is only for the fundraising office. Each additional office takes additional monies. In some cases there are 5 additional offices taking cuts before the poor receive any benefit. I would estimated that only 10-20% of the original donated monies actually get to the programs helping the poor.
Back in 1989, World Vision commissioned an internal study to see how much of each donor dollar was getting to the poor. The internal report showed less than 10% was received by the poor. How could this be?
World Vision is a large multi level organization. Each level takes a cut (1 - Fundraising office, 2 - International office, 3 - Regional office, 4 - Country office, 5 - Project office). After all of the salaries and administrative cuts at each level, there was not much of the dollar left for the poor.
This report caused terror in the organization and the findings were quickly suppressed. Senior staff realized there was a big problem and there was a multitude of meetings to try to cut expenses, but sadly it never happened.
World Vision U.S. 05/17/2013
Tim, we have no record of such a report, and the statistics you cite are nothing like the economics of our current program. World Vision U.S. spends nearly 86 percent of donations on programs benefiting children and their families (http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4768). As we're sure you're aware, providing cash directly to families has been proven ineffective. World Vision works with communities to ensure children and families have access to essential services such as water, education, healthcare and income potential. Included in program expenses are salaries for staff such as doctors and water experts who serve in their countries or regions to ensure programs are designed to improve the lives of children, project staff who regularly monitor sponsored children to see that they are benefiting, and accountants and auditors to monitor how our funds are spent. Rather than being "overhead," these staff fill an important role in running effective programs. Larry Probus, CFO of World Vision U.S., provides an explanation of how donor funds are used and leveraged to benefit the communities we serve: http://www.worldvision.org/content.nsf/about/why-donate?open We hope you will view his presentation, which provides a current look at World Vision's finances.
After seeing how WV operates on a grassroots level, it makes one want to vomit. If you look at the upper level vision, it may be really. But after seeing how WV works on a grassroots level for 7 years in Africa, I have little reason to believe that much of your money is doing anything but padding the pockets of corrupt grassroots level workers of WV. And in terms of Christian witness, the on-the-ground WV workers smear the name of Christ in the mud by the way they live. PS - Do not think that when you visit your sponsor child, you are seeing the real WV. WV knows how to put on a show that has little to do with reality.
World Vision U.S. 03/19/2013
Thank you for raising these concerns. World Vision takes seriously its responsibility - both to donors and those we serve - to use funds appropriately. We have reporting and audit systems in place to detect and correct such problems. We would appreciate the opportunity to look into the specifics of what you saw. Please contact us firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 1-800-890-8915. Again, thank you for raising these concerns.
Review from CharityNavigator
Worked for World Vision for many years and have seen first hand how much the cost is for the organization. High cost for staff and a system of reporting take well over 20% of the budget, and in some cases 75%. Corruption has taken place on a grand scale in a number of countries DRC, Chad, Zambia, Malawi. The marketing is more important than the actual impact of the wiork in the field. Yes there are many good honest Christian people working in World Vision. As an organization it is not so Christian. The International CEO makes over $400.000 and so does mr Stearns. How many children do you need to sponsor before such salaries are paid? The four stars are heavily overvalued.
Review from CharityNavigator