According to the DFAT website The Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) is DFAT’s largest single support mechanism for accredited Australian non-government organisations (NGOs). It is an annual grants program that provides funding to accredited Australian NGOs working with communities to deliver projects in developing countries across a range of sectors, including education, health, water and sanitation, governance and economic development. The ANCP was introduced in 1974 and is the Government’s longest running NGO program. In 2017-18, the program will provide $128.8 million to 57 NGOs to support approximately 455 projects in over 50 countries in a range of sectors including education, health, water and sanitation, food security, civil society and economic development.
In terms of charities in Australia the 2014 Australian Charities Report, published by the ACNC in December 2015, found that donations and bequests account for a massive $6.8 billion of annual charity income. While most of us could recall the names of a hand full of charities, there were actually 54,000 registered charities in Australia in 2015.
The Sydney Morning Herald some years ago looked into Environmental Non-Government Organisations (ENGOs) and found the likes of the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) were spending a whopping 43 cents in every dollar they raised from the public on administration which included raising extra donations.
The Federal Government were equally criticised back in 2016 by the Sydney Morning Herald for reducing funding to NGOs to the tune of $1.5Bn. The Federal Government were criticised for using 'funding levers' to prevent NGOs lobbying against poor policy.
Regardless of the arguments one-way or the other, in terms of policy risk there is a very real risk to the public purse with the sheer plethora or NGOs, charities and associations seeking Government money to deliver a myriad of services - often in the same policy and service delivery space.
I'm not sure about you but I'm quite lethargic toward NGOs. I only need to go to the local Westfield shopping mall to be hit up again for a donation. I do also question why we have so many cancer institutes researching a cure for cancer. Why are we not joining forces to ensure both government and private money is used more effectively and efficiently when it comes to public health.
Policy risk isn't just about analysing potentially problematic decisions. It's about showing leadership and making current decisions better. Perhaps if we took a good hard look at ourselves and had an honest debate, we might just reach the end goal a lot quicker and deliver so much more, by using fewer funds, if we joined forces.