Oxfam spent almost £23m extra on responding to emergencies and supporting people living in poverty last year. This 7.7 percent rise in spending to £322m outstripped a three percent increase in income.
Public donations to Oxfam increased by £7m to reach their second-highest ever level of £114.5m, superseded only by the Asian Tsunami in 2004. This was largely thanks to generous responses to major humanitarian disasters, from the Nepal earthquake to ongoing conflicts in South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. More people chose to leave a legacy to Oxfam, contributing £17.3m compared to £13.8m the year before.
We are incredibly grateful to the British public for their continued support for Oxfam. The public's generosity is testament to their commitment to end poverty and suffering around the world, during what remain for many uncertain times financially. Violence and disaster are forcing record numbers of people to flee their homes in search of safety, often with little more than the clothes on their backs and a few possessions they can carry. The scale of the crisis has prompted the biggest humanitarian response in Oxfam's history as we provide desperately needed food, water and shelter. While we push world leaders for a more effective response to these complex crises, from helping to end conflicts to hosting more refugees, public support is vital to enable us to continue to help the most vulnerable.
Oxfam's income in 2015/16 was a record £415m. At the same time, Oxfam shops saw a slight drop in overall sales of one percent, earning a net income of £17.8m after operating costs. Shop managers reported a fall in sales from donated goods, especially clothing for adults, due to difficult trading conditions on the British high street, with lower footfall and declining consumer spending.
Oxfam is also struggling to recruit enough volunteers to keep the shops running - although the number of volunteers in Oxfam shops remains around 23,000, there has been a drop in the number of hours that people are able to give. Some shops had to be temporarily closed due to volunteer shortages and missed out on sales in the key period either side of Christmas.
Oxfam shop volunteers are heroes - we couldn't run our 650 shops without them. Today's life pressures mean that people can give less time than they did in the past so we need more volunteers to keep the shops open and raise more money to fight poverty. We're asking people to give just four hours a week in their local Oxfam shop. There's a job to suit everyone - from window dressing to serving customers, sorting donations to listing products online, organising pop-up events to managing social media - and it's hugely rewarding.
Among the initiatives to increase sales, Oxfam has introduced a 'rags to riches' scheme to extract the maximum value from every item donated, where shops review pricing and add lower-priced ranges. This scheme is already having an impact, with the average price of clothing down seven percent over the last six months and sales up by six percent, generating more money to fight poverty.
What Oxfam did in 2015/16:
Oxfam directly helped 11.6m people - and indirectly countless more family and community members - in 51 countries through humanitarian and development work, including helping:
- 5.4m people have clean water to drink
- 1.7m people receive food, cash or vouchers, enabling them to survive in a crisis
- 1.5m people have improved sanitation facilities, greatly reducing the spread of disease
- 390,000 women be aware of and able to stand up for their rights
- 270,000 people improve their crops, goods and services to earn a better living
- 125,000 farmers and traders negotiate better prices for their goods in more markets
- 44,000 people improve their lives through innovative ways to tackle climate change.
In addition, through campaigning and policy work, supported by 800,000 people who took part in campaigns, Oxfam influenced policies and practices that affect many more people, including:
- Challenging world leaders to tackle worsening inequality where 62 people now own the same wealth as the poorest 50 percent of the world's population, including by ensuring that the richest pay their fair share of tax in order to help governments fight poverty.
- Pushing world leaders for a strong deal at the international climate talks in Paris, including sufficient funding to ensure millions of vulnerable people can adapt to the more frequent extreme weather events due to climate change.
- Calling for the huge value of unpaid work by women such as cooking, cleaning and childcare to be recognised, as one form of discrimination holding back women and the fight against poverty.
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