Theme of the Conference


The central issues for the indigenous charities are ownership and authority with necessary participation arrangements and accountability framework. However, if the state interferes there is the possibility of bureaucratic inefficiency. A comparative study of charities In Taiwan, lineage groups in China and Hong Kong and Buddhist charities in Singapore, and the waqf in Afghanistan, South East Asia and Bahrain will assist in disentangling these issues.


Accountability in a charity is a function of authority which is vested in the trustees, the Board of Directors, acting on behalf of the stakeholders who are the donors. The ultimate accountability is thus to donors. However, recent debates on NGOs and accountability are shifting the responsibility and rights away from donors to the beneficiaries. The emphasis hence is on the impact of the charities actions that is the outcome itself and the benefits. A hierarchy of accountability does exist with the state as regulator, with legal responsibilities to stakeholders [donors] to a more holistic inclusive form of accountability engaging with beneficiaries and the wider society. It is also a measurement of efficiency and performance of the charities themselves.


Another theme in accountability is holistic accountability which adds to monitoring of the functions and responses of charities, their campaigns, and other forms of accountability. Here stakeholders are fully engaged and information and responsibilities are accumulated. Stakeholder centred commitment, citizenship and management prevail. All stakeholders irrespective of economic and political power are integrated with the emphasis on beneficiaries. While grateful to the donor it is the beneficiaries that are important and remain the charities’ main concern.


The introduction of accountability held serious implications for both religious charities such as waqf and the non-religious secular NGOs active in economic projects in the Third World and in Disaster Relief zones. In seeking an international role through cross-border affiliations and funds, religious NGOs, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu and Jewish pursue aims of poverty eradication, empowerment of marginal communities, and seek political change if they perceive that the state is a barrier to these public aims. It is essentially a start up effort from grass roots innovating and creating a civil society and assimilating market functions towards these social aims.


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