How the Committee operates
Reasons for a Donor Committee
Depending on the year, private donations make up between 50% and 70% of the organisation’s income; in other words, without the trust and loyalty of the donors who guarantee its independence, Doctors of the World would not exist. As that trust and loyalty depend in large part on the way funds are raised and used and the way the accounts are presented, in 1990 the Board of Doctors of the World decided to set up a body independent of the organisation. Made up of donors, this body is responsible for representing them, conveying their questions, wishes and criticisms and informing them of how their donations are used.
Function of the Donor Committee
The objective of the Committee is to stand as “guarantor” for Doctors of the World. But this does not mean supporting at any price and disregarding any concern for ethics. Playing the role of the organisation’s watchdog, the Committee ensures that donors are privy to particular information. It represents them and conveys their questions. The Committee may formulate opinions and recommendations on their behalf concerning the general progress and direction of the organisation. To this end, the subjects of fundraising, managing funds and presenting the accounts are permanently on its agenda for discussion. In the event of disagreement over how Doctors of the World funds are used, how it conducts its activities or any serious failings, the Committee firstly states its position to the Board. Should the latter fail to follow up on this approach, the Committee can appeal to the Comité de la Charte de déontologie des organisations sociales et humanitaires faisant appel à la générosité du public (Ethics and Give with Confidence Charter Committee in France).
Workings of the Donor Committee
The Committee operates on a collegial and consensual basis. This principle presupposes collective listening and respect for each of the members and the opinions they express. The Donor Committee meets regularly and approximately once a month.
The Committee works on an ongoing basis on certain key issues about which donors are particularly sensitive: fundraising methods, communication with donors, managing funds raised, financial transparency, etc. are all points which influence the trust that must exist between Doctors of the World and its donors. To examine these issues in depth, the Committee regularly meets employees at the organisation as well as members of the Board. For example, when working on the presentation of the accounts, members of the Committee regularly meet the organisation’s treasurer and analyse ratios. The Committee’s chair is systematically invited to Board meetings.
The Donor Committee periodically and regularly (around 4 times a year) delegates its members to visit various Doctors of the World programmes - in France or abroad and long-term or emergency.
Visiting projects in the field is one of the Committee’s particular tools. The aim of these visits is not to analyse the work from a medical perspective but to assess whether it complies with Doctors of the World’s mission statement and whether the resources used are in line with the objectives set. Since the Committee was created, we have identified the pitfalls facing members who are travelling in the field and considered ways to avoid them. A guide to evaluating programmes has been drawn up setting out the rules. For visits to be successful requires the availability prior to departure of information on objectives, budget and financing, history and implementation choices. The RM (Project volunteer adviser) is systematically consulted before departure.
Members of the Committee travel in their own free time for periods of a few days to the locations of programmes to meet with local players: RMs, employees, volunteers, international voluntary workers and potential partners. To prepare for their field visits, Committee members regularly attend meetings of the geopolitical or subject groups organised by the organisation. By taking part in these meetings, the Committee members can better understand the context in which Doctors of the World programmes are carried out and the criteria which prevail when different activities are launched, pursued or terminated.
The Committee plays a full role in meetings organised for and aimed at donors and in all forms of communication concerning donors - articles published in the donors’ journal or on the website. Each programme visit is the subject of a report which appears in the Journal des donateurs (Donors’ Journal) and on the Doctors of the World website.
Legal status of the Donor Committee
Over the years, the Donor Committee has gradually formalised how it operates. The Committee’s activities are codified in a charter drawn up in 1997. The Doctors of the World Donor Committee has no legal existence and is not a moral entity. Its legal status results from its recognition by Doctors of the World and from the place it is accorded alongside the organisation. It is made up of physical persons who are not part of the medical profession and who are not members of Doctors of the World but who share the organisation’s values and financially support its actions.
Resources allocated to the Donor Committee
To carry out its work, the Donor Committee is accommodated in the offices of Doctors of the World. The Donor Committee has an annual operating budget of around €10,000 allocated by the organisation and essentially earmarked to cover travel costs.
Links between the Donor Committee and the Comité de la Charte
The Donor Committee maintains relations with another of the organisation’s independent bodies, namely the Comité de la Charte. This self-regulatory body is an ethics and code of conduct committee for organisations which appeal to the general public for financial support. It brings together several charitable organisations. Every year, the Comité de la Charte verifies that those organisations which have elected to be its members are being properly run. Doctors of the World is one of its founding members.
Members of the Committee
The Committee is made up of members who do not belong to the organisation either in a volunteer, international voluntary worker or salaried capacity. To be a member of the Committee requires initial proof of being a donor and submission of a letter of application to the Donor Committee. In general, interested donors apply during donors’ days, (Journée des donateurs).
Nominees who are standing again or for the first time are co-opted by other members of the Committee for a renewable term of six years. Participating in the Donor Committee assumes adherence to Doctors of the World’s mission statement. It also presupposes a certain availability to attend the Committee’s monthly meetings and some subject-based meetings and to carry out Committee visits both in France and abroad. Being a volunteer or member of the organisation is incompatible with taking part in the Donor Committee.
Chair: Paule Champetier de Ribes, consultancy manager
Members as at April 2015:
- Thierry ARTERO, IT director
- Marc CHABERT, former magistrate with the regional audit chambers, now retired
- Jérôme DENOIX, development director with Hachette
- Philippe DESGOUTTES, civil administrator
- Isabelle FÉLIX, former director of Innovation
- Josée LETOURNEUX, employment adviser
- Sophie JUVIGNY, museum curator
- Adriane MUENIER, communication officer
- Olivier PERAY, author and director
- Daniel SCHLOSSER, schools inspector
- Georges QUINQUIS, former administrative and financial director, now retired
- Carl VAN EISZNER, art book publisher