Oxfam's income from the public fell by £3.8m but overall income increased

The charity's accounts for the year to 31 March cover the period until just after news of the Haiti scandal broke

Oxfam annual report
Oxfam annual report

Oxfam’s income from the public fell by £3.8m in the 2017/18 financial year, but its overall income increased to £427.2m, according to its annual accounts, published today.

The annual accounts cover the financial year to 31 March 2018 and therefore predate the full impact of the scandal about sexual exploitation by the charity’s workers in Haiti in 2010, which broke in February.

However, the accounts say the Haiti scandal "led to a downturn in Oxfam GB’s fundraising income in the final weeks of 2017/18" and add that "the longer-term consequences for Oxfam GB’s finances will only become clear in future financial years".

The accounts show that, after the scandal was reported in the press, there was an increase in the number of reports of abuse and harassment at the charity. In total, 155 reports – including sexual misconduct concerns, HR issues and concerns about staff wellbeing – were received in 2017/18, compared with 87 in 2016/17.

Of the 155 reports received, 73 were made between 10 February, when the scandal was reported in The Times newspaper, and 31 March, the end of the period covered by the accounts.

Despite the fall in donations, the charity’s overall income rose from £408.6m in 2016/17 to £427.2m, driven by an increase in income from the organisation’s charitable activities and trading.

But total income from donations and legacy fell from £135.6m last year to £120.9m in the latest accounts, the report says, partly because the charity’s involvement with the Department for International Development’s Partnership Programme, which brought in £8.4m in 2016/17, came to an end in December 2016.

"Overall income from the public has reduced by £3.8m this year," the accounts say. "This is due to a reduction in regular giving of £1.9m and lower income for emergency response, as there have been fewer major emergencies this year."

The report acknowledges that the scandal "significantly affected" levels of trust in the charity".

"Some individual supporters cancelled their regular gifts, but the vast majority stayed with us and we are hugely grateful to them for their continued belief in Oxfam," the accounts say. "A key focus for the current financial year and beyond will be to restore confidence among our supporters."

The accounts estimate that the charity helped 14 million people in the past year, which it says is the most it has helped in any single year since it was founded 76 years ago.

In his introduction to the accounts, Oxfam chief executive Mark Goldring said: "I am proud of the positive impact Oxfam has had on the lives of millions of people around the world.

"But the abhorrent events in Haiti were an affront to the values that Oxfam holds dear. For our failings at the time and subsequently, we are deeply sorry. Our first duty now must be to ensure that our vital work takes place in a safe and secure environment for all of those we serve."

Goldring said he was grateful to those who had come forward with reports of abuse and pledged to investigate their allegations carefully and thoroughly, and to take decisive and appropriate action where abuse was found.

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