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Frequently asked questions

Everything you ever wanted to know about Christian Aid - who we are, what we do, who we work with and how we support the world's poorest people.

If you find that your question is not answered please contact us.


We fight poverty, but we also fight the causes of poverty. And we do both these things through the involvement of people worldwide – overseas, through local organisations, our partners; and in the UK and Ireland, through hundreds of thousands of individuals and churches who support our stand against injustice.

We don’t parachute aid into the nearly 50 countries in which we work. We rely on the judgement, courage and hard work of people right at the frontline. Our partner organisations know how to make change happen.

Backing them up in this fight for freedom are hundreds of thousands of people, mainly in British and Irish churches, who campaign, speak out, shake collection tins and buttonhole their politicians. We think there are few other instances of such a loud, clear voice for justice. 

No. We do not discriminate. We help people according to need. Their faith, or lack of it, is of no interest to us. Some of our partners are Christian, some are Muslim or Jewish or Hindu – some are of no religious persuasion at all. Our primary concern is that they are good at what they do.

The organisation and its work is inspired by Christian values of faith, charity, hope and truth, but we are not missionaries. In fact, to insist on Christianity as a condition of aid would contradict our principles.

Put simply, ‘aid’ is what we do, ‘Christian’ is why we do it.

Poverty is political – there’s no way round that. When people go hungry, yet there is food enough to feed them, then something is wrong. When people are poor at a time when there has never been more wealth, we have to ask why and who is responsible, and campaign for leaders to change their policies.

But we are never party political. We are interested only in pressing for policies that can best help the poor – not who makes them. All we care about is eradicating poverty and injustice and their causes. We will talk to, and challenge, whoever we need to make this happen.

Find out more about why we campaign.  

In 2012/13 roughly 58% of our income came from people like you. That’s why we answer to you: it’s your money that’s helping us fight poverty. People who put money into the little red Christian Aid Week envelopes and collecting tins, who respond to appeals when an emergency hits, who sign up for Direct Debits.

Just over 40% of our income came from institutional funding such as programme partnerships with UK Aid (DFID), grants from the European Commission and Irish Aid. 

Christian Aid income in 2012/13

Christian Aid income sources in 2012/13  

Read a detailed breakdown of how we raise and spend our money.

Our total expenditure increased by 2% in 2012/13, from £94.8m to £96.6m. 86% of this went directly towards charitable activities – in other words, towards ending poverty.

13% was spent on fundraising, to ensure we can continue to raise life-saving funds. 1% was spent on governance - costs associated with the general running of the charity.

Christian Aid spending in 2012/13

Christian Aid spending in 2012/13  

Read a detailed breakdown of how we raise and spend our money.

Your donations help improve the lives of millions of people around the world.

Donations helped save countless lives when Typhoon Haiyan struck the Philippines in 2013. They are providing shelter, food and psychological support to families forced from their homes by the brutal conflict in Syria.

Your money helped organise a march of 60,000 of India’s poorest people to claim their right to land; made tax dodging a real development issue; doubled government spending on education in the Dominican Republic;  and helped almost 1 million people access essential services and adopt safer health practices in 2012/13.

Read eyewitness accounts of how your donations are transforming lives.  

All the difference in the world. If we don’t tackle the causes of poverty and injustice, we will forever be dealing with its symptoms – hunger, disease, unemployment, inequality, environmental destruction, and lack of education, rights and opportunity.

Armed with the facts and given the tools to campaign, we can lobby politicians and decision-makers to support our campaigns.

Thanks to campaigning, in 2013, the UK committed to spend 0.7% of national income on aid and the G8 set out great ambitions to tackle tax dodging - a key cause of global poverty.

In the Dominican Republic, the government promised to double the amount spent on education to 4% of GDP. A huge victory following two years of campaigning by Christian Aid partner Centro Bonó.

Find out more about other campaigns and why we campaign.   

Our money goes directly to our local partners – the people working on the ground – and not to governments. That way, corrupt governments can't misuse our funds. 

To ensure our partners aren’t corrupt and that our money is spent effectively, we have a detailed process for evaluating partners and projects which is as robust as any system implemented by financial institutions around the world.

Whenever we are alerted to a misuse of funds – which is extremely rare – we investigate immediately. If the root causes of the partner’s corruption are not addressed, we stop funding it. If the root causes are resolved, funding may continue subject to satisfactory future assessments.

Our partners deal with the consequences of corruption every day. It’s the poor who are hit hardest: the people who have to pay the bribe to get their child into school, or have to use the underfunded hospital while money is sent overseas. They know it has to be tackled.  

Find out more about our work on accountability and how we tackle corruption.  

We do work in cooperation with other international agencies when we think this will make us more effective, especially during emergencies and disasters.

When we plan any new project, our staff and partners check whether there are any other agencies working in the same area, and whether what we are planning to support will complement or duplicate the work they are doing.

We are members of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) and the ACT Alliance - one of the largest international networks channelling emergency and development aid.

We are also part of the British Overseas Aid Group (BOAG) and the Irish NGO network Dochas.

But there is value in having a distinct, individual identity. The public often wishes to give to particular causes or to agencies that work in a particular way – for example, some may want to give money to an organisation that is politically outspoken about the Middle East, others may prefer to sponsor a child or focus on funding healthcare.

So having a variety of agencies helps the public better direct their money to the specific causes that most interest them.  

We have 814* partner organisations in 46 countries. This gives us a remarkably flexible, quick way of responding to sudden need. In an emergency, instead of jetting in food aid, we’re already there – on the ground.

The scale of the devastation in the Philippines was huge when Typhoon Haiyan hit in 2013. But our local partners were helping families to shelters and saving lives before the disaster had even hit. They'll also be there long after the media coverage has faded - helping people to rebuild their lives and prepare for future emergencies.

We respond where the need is great and where we can react quickly and efficiently. And if we can’t respond through our partners, we can respond through our sister agencies in the ACT Alliance, the international ecumenical emergency network of which we are a leading member.   

No. You can’t guarantee that if you opt to buy a goat or a stethoscope that your cash will definitely pay for a goat or, indeed, a stethoscope. And there’s a very good reason for this.

Each donation is placed into a fund that relates to the sorts of projects your ‘gift’ represents. So when you choose a goat, your cash goes into livestock or agricultural projects.

This flexibility ensures we can give the right money to the right project, instead of having to cope with a glut of goats or stethoscopes, for example, and then foisting them on communities that don’t need them but who are short of other essential items.

Your money and Present Aid.

If we are to speak credibly and encourage others to reduce their carbon footprint, we must lead by example. Therefore, we've been reporting our own in-house greenhouse gas emissions since 2005/06.

In 2012/2013 our emissions fell by 2%, thanks mainly to a reduction in electricity and paper use, more than compensating for a small increase in flights. New energy-efficient computers in head office and an increase in the proportion of recycled paper we use also helped to reduce our environmental impact.

A lot of our electricity also comes from renewable sources. However, because we follow DEFRA’s carbon reporting guidelines, we do not include this carbon saving in our footprint figures.

Carbon reporting will become mandatory for a range of large companies and government departments, thanks to successful campaigning by Christian Aid and others. 

Find a detailed breakdown in our annual report.

Christian Aid has clear goals which guide us and our work to eliminate poverty and injustice. New partners are selected to help Christian Aid meet these objectives. We formally assess each prospective partner to check they share our goals and have the kind of robust financial and organisational structures, skills and capacity to help deliver them. 

To learn more about our goals, see our strategy - Partnership for change.  

Lots of things! You could help raise money this Christian Aid Weekrun, hike or walk with us; hold a bake sale or church service; take a campaign action; follow us on Facebook; or volunteer in one of our offices.

Find out other ways to join our movement in our get involved section.  

Christian Aid believes that it is better to help whole communities through our partner organisations than to sponsor individuals. A village well, a community school, a trained primary health worker – these can all help to improve life for everyone, rather than just an individual child.

Some sponsorship schemes do support projects that benefit the community, but even then, the mechanics of sponsoring – recording the progress of each child, translating letters, taking photos – costs money. This is money which is being spent on the needs of the donor, not the child.  

The projects that we support are managed by organisations and groups local to the area in need. For this reason, we don’t place volunteers overseas. Occasionally specific paid posts are recruited; these are advertised on our website.

The vast majority of the people to whom we write already support Christian Aid in one way or another and have not said that they do not wish to hear from us. Occasionally, we buy ‘list’ names – individuals who have indicated that they want to receive information about the kind of development work we do. We do this after making sure the list names do not already appear in our records.

Under the Data Protection Act, anyone we contact must have given their permission to be contacted about services that may be relevant to them. These services include charitable causes.

All our email communications include an unsubscribe link at the bottom. If you don't want to be contacted by us, just let us know.

Read our terms and conditions for full details.   

As a charitable company limited by guarantee, we are registered with UK Companies House and the Charity Commission for England and Wales. Christian Aid now operates in Ireland through two new companies limited by guarantee, one in Northern Ireland and one in the Republic of Ireland, each registered as Christian Aid Ireland. 

Our board of trustees provides us with a breadth of experience and expertise. Trustees contribute their time to help set and oversee the strategic direction of Christian Aid.

They review and comment on plans and performance, review any major issues bearing on the wellbeing of the organisation, and decide important new directions.

It is the trustees’ responsibility to approve formally our budget, annual report and accounts.

The board meets five times a year and consists of a chair; representatives of Christian Aid's committees for Ireland, Wales and Scotland; the General Secretary of Churches Together in Britain and Ireland who is always an ex-officio member; and up to 15 other trustees appointed for their experience, knowledge and skills relevant to our work.

They are selected by our 41 sponsoring churches in Britain and Ireland at the annual general meeting.

All trustees are appointed for four years and are eligible for one further term. The board delegates some responsibilities to sub-committees of trustees, including a finance, investment and fundraising committee.


*This includes organisations who received grants from funds that Christian Aid manages on behalf of other donor organisations.

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