The charity that begins at home


Disappearing Charity Donations in Adelaide
By Norman Barber
Earth Friend Press. 1991
Reviewed by David Munn

In 1981 the Adelaide Central Mission refused to give free second-hand furniture to a group of people who had recently moved into a group of houses in Brompton, which had been deliberately vandalised by the Highways Department. The department had bought them for a freeway that never eventuated.

When seeking donations for its Goodwill shops, the mission had for some years advertised that it provided free furniture to the needy. When asked why these people did not qualify, the director Ivor Bailey claimed that the service was provided only to those who paid rent. This group of previously homeless individuals had offered to pay rent, but the Highways Department refused to accept it.

Two months later, the mission bought a $340,000 house, for Ivor Bailey to live in, at in Athelstone.

This is an example of some of the interesting information to be found in this little book about corruption in Adelaide's charitable institutions.

Many who give money to charities will be surprised to find out how little of this money reaches the needy and how much ends up in the pockets of wealthy executives. G. Andermahr, the general manager of Goodwill, makes $1000 a week, while at least 89% of the money raised by Goodwill shops is lost in expenses.

This book explains how 50 cents in every dollar spent in the Schizophrenia Fellowships op-shop last year ended up in the pocket of real estate millionaire Con Polites, and how the Adelaide Central Mission deliberately sabotaged one of its own programs rather than collect some of the massive quantities of food that is destroyed by supermarkets every day while the poor and the homeless go hungry.

With angry wit, Barber reveals the power games, greed and psychological abuse that often lie behind the sentimental public image of our charitable institutions. Only if this information is widely disseminated is there any hope that the public embarrassment it might cause will make the lords of poverty accountable both to their supporters and to those they are supposed to be helping.