It used to be traditional that donors to charities weren’t overly worried about the administration practices or policies of the organisation to which they donated. In modern times there is a far higher focus on issues of ‘transparency’ with people rightly concerned that in some charitable organisations a huge percentage of every pound donated goes on management charges, employment costs and so on. Some major household names in the charity sector consume upwards of 25% of all donations purely on administration costs.
So, where does Sang-ngak-chö-dzong sit in comparison to the ‘big name’ charities?
Well, firstly everyone who works for Sang-ngak-chö-dzong is an unpaid volunteer. This is very much in keeping with the spirit of the UK charitable sector, where the principle is that as much as possible people should donate their time and energy to a good cause without expectation of financial compensation. Our committee of trustees numbers between 10 and 15 individuals at any one time, and all are unpaid – indeed, to be a trustee one must pay to be a ‘Friend of Sang-ngak-chö-dzong’ http://arobuddhism.org/path/friends.html.
The public events that we run are all ‘self funding’ inclusive of any advertising that we may use. This means that the fees paid by course and retreat attendees are structured to cover all the costs including food, accomodation, publicity and so on, that are associated with our events. The teachers of our courses are unpaid, whether a teaching couple like Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen, or Nga-la Nor’dzin and Nga-la ‘ö’Dzin, or a meditation instructor studying as part of our teacher training programme.
The only administrative costs we bear are associated with basics such as postage, and also our legal requirement to have our accounts checked by an independant accountant.
What does this amount to? Well, in 2007 Sang-ngak-chö-dzong’s administrative costs as a share of all expenditure was 5%, and as a share of turnover it was less than 3%. That means that for every pound we receive, less than 3p went to cover charity costs. In fact our policy is that our charitable projects, such as supporting Lopon Ogyan Tanzin Rinpoche and the Pemakö School, and of course our Drala Jong project, bear no costs at all. Instead our other operations such as the book shop have to generate sufficient profit to cover our cost base, so that 100% of each donation received goes straight to the good cause we are supporting.
We hope that our donors approve of our policies – undertaken in the spirit of Ogyen Dzambhala – Wealth and Generosity manifestation of the Buddhas’ Wisdom.