Federal government launches East Africa Drought Relief Fund

publication date: Aug 15, 2011
The Government of Canada is helping Canadian charities respond to the need for emergency aid in East Africa by setting up the East Africa Drought Relief Fund. It's not a direct matching grant program for charities. Rather, for every eligible dollar an individual Canadian donates to a registered Canadian charity for drought relief in East Africa, the government will contribute a dollar to its own fund.

The Canadian International Development Agency will then allocate those funds to established Canadian and international humanitarian organizations for projects that benefit the people most affected by the drought.

How are registered charities involved?

Donors can donate to any registered Canadian charity that is receiving donations in response to the drought. The charity must report these eligible donations to CIDA by September 30, 2011. The program description on CIDA's website does not mention any cap on the amount the government is willing to contribute.

What is an eligible donation?

Individual Canadians may donate up to $100,000, specifically designated for responding to the drought, by September 16. Corporate donations and non-designated gifts that registered charities choose to allocate to drought relief are not eligible.

Registered charities may hold fundraising events to raise money from individuals specifically for the drought relief efforts. These amounts would be eligible even when donation receipts are not issued. A charity may gift the collected amount to another registered charity but it should be declared only once to CIDA to ensure no double-counting of donations.

Timing vague on government's side

CIDA came under fire for several months this year after cancelling a long-term working relationship with Kairos. The deep cut dealt a devastating blow to the programming of an organization with significant international relief experience.

Minister Bev Oda issued conflicting statements about the reasons for the cancellation, which have never been satisfactorily explained with respect to the agency's guidelines.

According to CIDA, grants from the East Africa Drought Relief Fund will be allocated "based on CIDA's humanitarian assistance guidelines and the ability of Canadian and international humanitarian organizations to access the affected populations and deliver timely, effective, and appropriate humanitarian assistance."

Program announcements contain no information about target dates for the federal funds to be released or deadlines for the CIDA process. Registered charities accepting donations for the Fund must complete and send in the East Africa Drought Relief Fund Declaration Form to CIDA by September 30.

For more information, http://www.acdi-cida.gc.ca/acdi-cida/ACDI-CIDA.nsf/eng/ANN-72082543-GL5#a4

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