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World Vision

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There are over 161 000 non-profit organizations in Canada. Non-profit organizations work to achieve goals for the benefit of humanity rather than for profit like a business. Obviously with so many organizations, there are various types of organizations that vary in size and scope, with unique ambitions and some overlap in goals. World Vision is an organization that operates internationally with many chapters around the world. World Vision works globally for relief of underprivileged people and the development of disadvantaged societies. This paper will give background on World Vision to understand how it began and how it has become what it is today. World Vision is an evangelical organization meaning it is faith-based. This plays a major role in how it operates in every aspect. This paper will analyze faith-based organizations and the impact of being an evangelical non-profit organization.

The paper will introduce the structure of World Vision and outline how it runs, and detail the various programs World Vision has and implements throughout the world. The paper will then go on to discuss a major issue for organizations like World Vision. Many large non-profit organizations sometimes have to work with other parties in order to achieve certain goals. These partnerships can raise certain issues, especially ethical concerns. The paper will discuss one specific example of World Vision working with mining companies and the impact and consequences of such an alliance. All in all, the purpose of this paper is to give insight on how one of the world’s biggest faith-based, non-profit organizations came to be, how they run and give insight into how deep and layered their operation is, and to give an example of how in the non-profit world, even the largest, most successful and renown non-profit organizations face challenges and must deal with contentious issues in trying to achieve their goals. The history and origin of World Vision goes back over 50 years ago. The first form of World Vision came through the actions of Reverend Robert Pierce in 1947.

Pierce was on a trip to China where he encountered a woman and a clearly, underprivileged child. The condition the infant was in had a great effect on Robert Pierce. As he held the small abandoned child, he was so moved he felt a personal responsibility to assist the child. He realized that the child needed help and that there were no real means for survival so he decided to give all the money he had at the time, 5 dollars, and promised to continue to send funds for relief of children once he returned to America (World Vision India, n.d.). Thus, through this simple act of altruism was born the framework of World Vision. Pierce’s act was an early form of child sponsorship and created one of the first child sponsorship programs which spearheaded the creation of World Vision. The first major enterprise of World Vision was in response to children in need resulting from the Korean War in the early 1950s (World Vision, n.d.). This was the first vessel for World Vision to serve its purpose in assisting disadvantaged children as an organization on a large scale. After seeing the success of its program in Korea, World Vision began to operate its program in various other areas in the world that were experiencing turmoil such as Africa and Eastern Europe (World Vision, n.d.).

The biggest driving factor in the creation of World Vision was the social concern of the general well-being of children around the world. Pierce had an in-depth look into what underprivileged children experience, and responded to what he believed was a major social issue in inadequate living standards for children. World Vision took this focus and expanded it into becoming an organization that strives to help humans have sufficient living conditions. In the 70s, World Vision began to implement programs that helped nations and communities beyond simple relief. World Vision began to help people with community development and instead of simply giving people the means to survive, they created programs in underdeveloped areas that helped teach communities and provide them the skill sets for long-term survival and sustainability, such as teaching farming skills (World Vision, n.d.). Throughout the 80s and 90s, World Vision continued to expand to being advocates for justice and helping fix and create infrastructure in impoverished nations. For example, World Vision made huge strides for Ethiopia to have clean drinking water through creation of wells, and creating programs to combat and educate about the AIDS pandemic in Uganda (World Vision, n.d.).

World Vision today has become one of the largest and most trusted relief organizations as seen with its high level of fundraising and various programs assisting numerous communities around the world. Canada has been in involved with World Vision since its early days. It came to Canada in 1957 and has gone on to be one of the most active hubs of World Vision in the world. In addition, World Vision is the largest organization for relief in Canada (World Vision Canada, n.d.). The mission statement of World Vision Canada, and essentially all of World Vision, meaning it reflects the view of World Vision in general, is as follows: World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. As followers of Jesus, we are motivated by God’s love to serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity and gender (World Vision Canada, n.d.). In their 2011 annual report, World Vision Canada identified their focus as assisting in emergency relief, helping in community development and advocating for children’s rights, showing how the values and goals of World Vision remain uniform around the world (World Vision Canada, n.d.).

World Vision is a faith-based organization and, therefore has a faith-based angle in its goals. These goals provide advantages to World Vision in achieving success. Faith- based organizations have been established before other non-profit organizations. This provides them a historical advantage in the sense that they have a stronger and deeper mark in the history of relief. Many major secular organizations were formed in the nineteenth century such as the Red Cross and anti-slavery organizations (Ferris, 2005). It is stated, “One 1953 analysis found that fully 90% of post-war relief was provided by religious agencies” (Ferris, 2005). Faith-based organizations’ large connections allow them to more easily reach the areas they want to provide relief. Another main difference between faith-based and secular non-profit organizations is motivation and broadness. Faith based organizations are broader than other non-profit organizations. During colonialism the churches established their foundations in colonized countries in terms of health, education and other social services. Motivation issue comes from the religious values to help people who are in need. Faith-based organizations can work with local churches and coordinate themselves easily to get involved in humanitarian aid at a personal level.

Other non-profit organizations’ coordination with local groups can be difficult due to lack of integration in values. Governments help them to coordinate themselves in the countries where they can conduct programs to combat emergency situations. It is difficult to find a clear distinction between secular and government organizations in humanitarian aid. This reduces the effectiveness of secular organizations. The activities of secular organizations can be seen through the policies of foreign governments (Ferris, 2005). However, faith-based organizations have similar problems to secular organizations when they are in countries where local groups reject their values and religious beliefs. They struggle to sustain their efforts. Some Christian organizations tried to distribute the Gospel as well as relief to Muslims affected by the tsunami in Indonesia in 2004. This led to criticism of the work of all Christians (Ferris, 2005). World Vision Canada does not have the policy of approaching people depending on their religion, ethnicity, race, etc. It approaches people as human beings regardless of their religion (World Vision, n.d.).

Faith-based organizations’ actions and mistakes can be generalized by local groups or other religious followers without knowing the difference between faith-based organizations. Faith-based discourse is “value laden”. Religious organizations impose individual morality and responsibility. This approach helps individuals to avoid any activity which is going to harm. When they try to protect people from HIV/AIDS, they mostly focus on certain terminology such as “sin, bad, virtue, guilt and innocence”. Other non-profit organizations in some countries wish to work with faith-based organizations to be successful due to effectiveness of religious values (Karf, n.d.). It is not possible to entirely separate faith-based organizations and secular organizations. There is often overlap. Faith-based organizations mostly differentiate by their strict commitment to justice. “World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. As followers of Jesus, they are motivated by God’s love to serve all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender” (World Vision Canada, n.d.). Christian faith-based organizations like World Vision are active in almost every country around the world. They are more active than other faith-based organizations. “Jewish and Islamic faith-based organizations mostly serve members of their own religious communities.

Christian organizations have more global outreach: to assist those in need regardless of their religious affiliation” (Ferris, 2005). Although faith-based and secular non-profit organizations work separately, they bring together some important issues to be solved. They both can recommend key issues to government to take action. Both secular and faith-based organizations play a key role in bringing up issues to be considered based on reports. “In 1988, the World Council of Churches and the Friends World Committee for Consultation made a joint submission to the UN Human Rights Commission on the particular needs of internally displaced persons” (Ferris, 2005). World Vision is working close to organizations like the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child. In 2004 World Vision Canada suggested a submission for measures to increase child protection to be accepted in the Parliament. World Vision Canada worked with various communities to improve Canadian standards for kids through assistance programs (Austin, 2006).

Faith-based organizations work with other non-profit organizations and governments to help children and people to develop their security and life standards. World Vision Canada has a Transformational Development Program, which tries to develop communities and children. This program mostly focuses on community-based initiatives to protect children and help their society’s development around the world (World Vision Canada, n.d.). Faith based organizations like World Vision are more effective than other non-profit organizations due to their large connections around the world. These large connections help them get close to communities to serve them better than other non-profit organizations. Their values keep the organization strong encourage people involved in the organization to assist people who are in need based on moral fiber. The structure of World Vision is deeply layered and has various levels. From the time it was created in 1950 World Vision began to expand at a rapid rate, stretching its influence across multiple countries around the world. Due to its large size and presence in the global community, the organization divides itself into individual national chapters. Each country in which World Vision is employed has their own office and operates within their own division.

The organization opened its first Canadian office in Toronto in 1957. Altogether there are forty-eight national offices. Each branch came together and held a meeting in 1977 to collaborate and restructure the organization into an international operating body. Through this World Vision International was established with its members making up the World Vision Partnership. Its main headquarters is in Monrovia, California (World Vision International, 2007). Every national office is run by its own board and council. They all share a common mission statement and must abide by universal policies and regulations. Each branch must act accordingly to the standards that World Vision sets. The organization’s international executive body is its Board of Directors. It consists of twenty-four members, excluding the CEO, who hold meetings twice a year to discuss future strategic plans and how to spend the annual budget. Any desired changes to policy or programs are brought up for debate here. The current president and CEO is Kevin J. Jenkins (World Vision International, 2007). According to World Vision’s financial statements, around 40% of its entire revenue comes from private sources such as individual donors, schools, churches and charity foundations.

Approximately 30% comes from governments through the forms of grants and financial aid. The rest of its revenue comes in the forms of gifts and commodities such as food, medicine and clothing donated by other organizations (World Vision International, 2007). For an international organization of its size, World Vision operates very efficiently by appropriately allocating its resources and funding. Based on its recent annual monetary report, 88% of its financial funds went into its aid programs and helping those in need. 4.2% was used to pay off administrative costs and 7.5% to fundraising expenses (World Vision, n.d.). Reasons for World Vision’s high efficiency and low operating costs are due to its low budget on advertisement campaigns and the partnerships that it has with other major organizations. World Vision advertises and promotes awareness through social media sites such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter, all of which are free to use. They also invest 150,000 dollars annually into Google Adwords so that their website pops up when certain words are typed into the search engine (Doback, 2010). Another partnership that World Vision has is with the NFL. Misprinted superbowl gear and defective merchandise are often donated to World Vision who in turn sends it to communities that cannot afford clothing.

Both sides benefit from this partnership as the NFL gains recognition and also a tax break while World Vision can utilize free merchandise to help its cause (Mazow, 2011). One of World Vision’s most renowned aid programs is Sponsor a Child. Approximately half of the organization’s programs are funded by Sponsor a Child alone (World Vision, n.d.). This program helps children living in regions of extreme poverty and oppression. This is done by setting up projects in their communities that can assist them with present issues. Each Child Sponsorship project is unique as they are designed to align with the community’s strengths and weaknesses. World Vision employees and volunteers work to implement these projects to meet their challenges and needs. Projects may include providing education and the chance to go to school, providing clean water for drinking, cooking and sanitization, improving healthcare through health education and opening up medical clinics with up-to-date equipment, providing and producing food to fend of starvation and improving household incomes through career training (World Vision Canada, n.d.).

Through these projects poor communities are equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and resources to improve their future and develop a higher quality of life. The Sponsor a Child program focuses in forty-seven areas across thirteen countries; Bangladesh, Cambodia, Honduras, India, Malawi, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe and Nicaragua (World Vision Canada, n.d.). Donors are able to choose which child they want to sponsor by visiting the World Vision website to help create a stronger connection with donors. Children waiting to be sponsored are shown online with profiles providing basic information about them. After selecting who they want to sponsor, donors give monthly contributions to help the children overcome their individual challenges. Donors are able to stay in contact with their sponsored child through progress reports and letters (World Vision Canada, n.d.).

Another program that World Vision offers for donors to participate in is the Gifts in Kind campaign. With this program donors are able to go online and the World Vision catalogue to buy various gifts and send it to communities in need. Some examples of the gifts that donors can purchase are livestock, agricultural seeds and water filters. Each gift symbolically represents an area of need. By choosing a certain item, the donation goes into that select field to assist the community where it needs most (World Vision Canada, n.d.). This program is different from plainly donating to charity in several ways. It allows donors to be interactive with the work of World Vision. Instead of just donating money and letting World Vision decide what to do with it, donors can now choose where they want their financial aid to be targeted (agriculture, education, healthcare, etc.) In this sense, it gives more control to the donor while raising awareness of current issues that some communities face around the world. By educating donors of the severity of poverty and what World Vision is doing to help, it may raise their willingness to promote the campaign and donate more in the future.

This helps take away donor fatigue as it involves and makes donors understand what their contribution is doing. World Vision undertakes very ambitious projects around the world and therefore requires assistance or cooperation with other organizations. This can sometimes lead to a conflict of interests, especially if the organization that World Vision is working with is not a non-profit organization. In cases where non-profit organizations must collaborate with for-profit organizations, the non-profit organization must make strong efforts to ensure their goals do not get compromised. This is one of the biggest issues large relief organizations like World Vision face. Non-profit organizations, when working with other organizations must ensure their integrity is untouched and that their initiatives are in line with their goals. Sometimes the initiative is so grand that some may even argue that the greatest outcome can only be realized making certain sacrifices along the way. One example of this major issue regarding collaboration can be seen with World Vision’s complicated relationship with mining companies.

The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) is an agency that targets specific development objectives. Their aim as an agency is to “manage Canada’s support and resources effectively and accountably to receive sustainable results and engage in policy development in Canada and internationally” (CIDA in Brief, 2011). CIDA does not focus on providing aid for countries facing immediate disaster; rather they focus on providing funding for international development programs. They also enter “contracts with Canadian companies for the implementation of their programs and projects” (CIDA in Brief, 2011). They fund charitable non-profits that work in development. For example CIDA is currently funding a partnership between World Vision Canada and Barrick Gold. Barrack Gold is a large mining corporation with over twenty-six operating mines one of which is the Lagunas Norte mine located in Peru. In 2007 the mine acted as the location of one of the World Vision-Barrack Gold partnerships. It is in the Peruvian Andes, specifically 140 kilometers east of Trujilo (Barrick Gold and World
, 2012).

Barrick Gold announced they would commit 1.3 million to World Vision Canada to help “develop nutrition, education and employment skills programs that will benefit people in the communities of the Alto Chicama District of northern Peru” (Barrick Gold and World
, 2012). Barrick Gold’s vision is “To be the world’s best gold company by finding, acquiring, developing and producing quality reserves in a safe, profitable and socially responsible manner.” (World Vision Project in Peru, 2008). This vision allows the corporation to partner with non-profit organizations such as World Vision to ensure they are ‘socially responsible’. Barrick Gold and World Vision Canada have worked together on a number of projects. The first project was in 2003 when Barrick made an “investment of US$1 million over five years to help impoverished families near its Pierina mine” (Barrick Gold Corporation, 2012). With the success of that project they entered a second venture in 2007 with the Lagunas Norte mine mentioned above. Through World Visions sponsorship program and Barrick’s funding they were able to support three thousand children in the area.

Their plan was to help the community and prevent the malnourishment of young children. They taught the local mothers about nutrition and hygiene so they could take what they learned back to their families. The program acted as a way of empowering the local women. World Vision and Barrick’s most recent project together began July of 2011. Barrick contributed 500,000 thousand to World Visions initiative in Quiruvilca, Peru. It is supported by CIDA and it “aims to achieve improved economic and social development for local households, especially women, youth and disadvantaged groups where there is an accelerated increase in mining revenue” (Barrick Gold Corporation, 2012). Barrick’s president and CEO have stated that “it is another example of how the public and private sector can collaborate with communities to maximize the benefits of mining” (Barrick Gold Corporation, 2012). The question however is do these collaborations actually benefits the communities? When looking at mining companies and their work in developing countries issues as such can become quite controversial. There appears to be more negative than positive views on the collaboration.

It is said that “in a time of shrinking foreign aid dollars, tax payers should not be on the hook for corporate social responsibility projects” (Payne, 2012) however, the 26.7 million dollar deal between CIDA, the Canadian mining companies and the non-profit organizations selected suggest otherwise. The collaboration appears to be a tactic in spinning a better image for the mining companies as resource extraction is often associated with “human-rights abuses and increases in violence, to say nothing of environmental degradation” (Mattner, 2012). This begs the question is it justifiable for a non-profit organization to partner with a mining company whose sole purpose is to extract the maximum amount of resources possible? The partnership with CIDA “implies an ethical stamp of approval” (Mattner, 2012). However, is it ethical to strip a developing community of its natural resources based on a potential profit a developed nation would face to receive? Developed nations face criticism for seemingly exploiting communities in developing nations; this is of primary concern when achieving Canada’s international development interests according to Mining Watch Canada.

“Newly adopted practices by CIDA of subsidizing Corporate Social Responsibility projects of mining companies at their mine sites overseas does not constitute a responsible use of public funds and does not address the development deficits created by mining at the national and local levels in developing countries.” Coumans (2012) The division of the deficits created on both the national and the local level can be detrimental to developing nations. Furthermore, public funds channeled through mining companies such as Barrick Gold does not permenalty address these issues regardless of their partnership with World Vision. It is important to understand the impact a mining company such as Barrick Gold has on a developing community nationally. Provisions in confidential contracts, development and stability agreements, mining laws, and investment treaties are implemented in order to “secure investor protection from potential costs associated with evolving environmental, social, or fiscal regimes that support a country’s development objectives.” Coumans (2012) This subsequently shifts the responsibility from the mining companies who create surmountable national deficits to the marginalized communities who do not have the economic means to correct the further deficits created.

Resource extraction has the potential to benefit the companies and the communities in which resources are being extracted from, however according to Coumans (2012) “over consumption based on a non-renewable resource [leads to] unequal distribution of benefits associated with mineral wealth” This supports the idea that mining companies exploit non-renewable resources in developing communities with minimal compensation. For instance, According to Coumans (2012) “as a result of the high cost involved in developing and funding national institutions to monitor and regulate the activities of the mining industry [lost-opportunities are unprecedented for developing communities]” This projects the notion that social responsibility cannot protect the detrimental effects imposed on the developing communities. According to Haglund (2011) there is a significantly lower economic prosperity of communities from mineral dependant communities in comparison to oil dependent communities.

This is a direct correlation to the fact that many of the least dependent communities are also highly aid-dependant. CIDA recognizes this and thus condones the partnership of Barrick Gold and World Vision in an attempt to address social responsibility needs. However, economic prosperity is not addressed in developing communities, and as a result developing communities become more reliant on mining. This dependency sustains the mining industry, as well as the aid needed from organizations such as World Vision. It is important to recognize aid as a short term solution when understanding dependency, this dependency is paramount to the local deficits that occur to developing communities in which mining companies implement their agendas without taking into account the community in which they are exploiting.

Deficits at the local level cannot be ignored. As CIDA does not implement development sufficient projects, it then becomes the mining company’s awareness of the impacts that they are making on the communities in which they are mining in. One major area for concern is the impact mining has on the environment. According to Coumans (2012) “Mining and ore processing was the number one worst toxic pollution problem, putting an estimated 7.02 million people at risk of poor health or loss of life.” This statistic cannot be ignored, and mining companies must be held accountable for the serious implications their industry inflicts upon the affected communities.

Yakovleva (2005) theorizes a connection between company management in relation to community expectation. Labeled the “Legitimacy Theory” Yakovleva (2005) suggests that companies must take precautions to ensure all mining activities are socially responsible and accountable to growing expectations. She indicates that this support must be held accountable by community awareness and concern. “This may include pollution prevention and remediation of the physical environment, assurance of health and safety of employees and consumers and those who reside in the communities where products are manufactured and wastes are dumped.” Yakovleva (2005) Therefore, it is important that mining companies adhere to environmental issues, as their industry sustains on it.

Local level deficits are also majorly impacted socially due to the mining industry. Although CIDA has addressed social implications, and created a partnership between Barrick Gold and World Vision in order to provide economic stability as well as aid, it is apparent that poverty unfortunately continues to increase. According to Coumans (2012) a few examples of local level impacts are: Economic Dependency; as the community is left vulnerable once the mine closes down, Militarization; as mine’s must be protected primarily due to local opposition of the poor communities who are in desperate need of anything to alleviate their poor situation. Displacement; as communities are relocated consequently losing their culture and Breaches of core labor standards; as workers may be denied unionization and bargaining power, this is all in present of wage, health, safety standards, etc.

All of these issues must be addressed and enforced by CIDA; a partnership with World Vision does not solve these implications. According to Muthuri (2007) the examination of Corporate Community Involvement (CCI) long-term ramifications must be addressed. “Paternalism, community dependency, and lack of control over the direction of CCI raise fears of the consequences of corporate influence over social issues.” This is essential to understand in order for more effective partnerships to address communities’ unrelenting issues. World Vision can only provide their aid to a certain degree. It should be the responsibility of corporations to develop long lasting community involvement, that take into account all national and local deficits so that the developing communities may prosper, and not further depend on organizations such as World Vision.

Since the time of its establishment by Reverend Robert Pierce, World Vision has grown exponentially as a nonprofit organization through its impact in aiding people living under oppression and in poverty. Expanding its scope from children to any person in need, World Vision has reformed and adapted throughout the years to remain one of the largest and most successful international nonprofits. Being faith-based allows the organization to have an advantage over secular organizations as it can easily form collaborations and get assistance from churches and religious agencies in its areas of work. Secular organizations may find it difficult to coordinate with local groups due to differences in culture and religion. One can argue that being founded on religious values to help people in need also keeps the organization fixed and dedicated to its mission. Many faith-based nonprofit organizations mostly serve members of their own religious communities. This however is not the same for World Vision as it aids people regardless of their cultural values and religious beliefs. What makes World Vision different and unforgettable is its creativity in implementing unique programs for donors to participate in.

Programs such as Sponsor a Child and Gifts in Kind allows donors to become engaged in the organization’s cause instead of just casually donating money. World Vision strives to establish infrastructure in communities for long-term development besides simply giving people basic necessities to live. Even with its reputation as an effective and influential nonprofit organization, World Vision has had its fair share of scandals and controversies. One example is its partnership with Barrack Gold Mining Corporation that has stirred massive media attention and public negativity. Through this partnership BGM Corporation have committed millions of dollars to World Vision’s programs in return for the organization’s support in ensuring they are socially responsible. This alliance receives huge amounts of backlash and negative feedback as the public protests that the collaborations actually benefit communities. It seems controversial that a part of World Vision’s mission is to bring development to impoverished communities yet it supports a mining corporation that destroys the environment and raises pollution.

Aside from possible human rights abuses and negligence of regulations and standards, corporations such as BGM strips lands of its natural resources and brings it back to the developed world. Underdeveloped areas where these resources are extracted are hindered in the long-run as it takes away future processes for development. What could have been used to improve their economy is being taken away by these mining corporations. World Vision should abolish their partnership with BGM Corporation as it takes away credibility and tarnishes their reputation. If people lose trust in the organization they will not be enthusiastic to donate and this can greatly depreciate World Vision’s funding. World Vision is an extremely efficient nonprofit organization that has a large support base and many social connections. It manages its budget and operations wisely and has great leadership compared to other nonprofits of its size. It has dramatically improved the world by giving many people in need the basic means to life and also giving them the opportunity for a better future. It has set up many communities with the proper infrastructure and equipment for long-term development. World Vision has changed the lives of many and will continue to do so through the help of its donors who support its cause.


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