Bono’s anti-poverty foundation ONE is under pressure to explain its finances after it was revealed that only a small percentage of money it raises reaches the needy.
The non-profit organisation set up by the U2 frontman received almost £9.6million in donations in 2008 but handed out only £118,000 to good causes (1.2 per cent).
The figures published by the New York Post also show that £5.1million went towards paying salaries.
While the organisation’s gameplan has never been direct handouts on the ground, many who admire the Irish rock legend may be surprised by the figures.
A wide range of activists, both African and European, is furious about the New Alliance. But the ONE campaign, co-founded by Bono, stepped up to defend it. The article it wrote last week was remarkable in several respects: in its elision of the interests of African leaders and those of their people, in its exaggeration of the role of small African companies, but above all in failing even to mention the injustice at the heart of the New Alliance – its promotion of a new wave of land grabbing.
‘Bono’s positioning of the west as the saviour of Africa while failing to discuss the harm the G8 nations are doing has undermined campaigns for justice and accountability.’
It was bad enough in 2005. Then, at the G8 summit in Scotland, Bono and Bob Geldof heaped praise on Tony Blair and George Bush, who were still mired in the butchery they had initiated in Iraq.
At one point Geldof appeared, literally and figuratively, to be sitting in Tony Blair’s lap. African activists accused them of drowning out a campaign for global justice with a campaign for charity.
But this is worse. As the UK chairs the G8 summit again, a campaign that Bono founded, with which Geldof works closely, appears to be whitewashing the G8’s policies in Africa.
ONE spokesman Oliver Buston has now defended the way the organisation is run, insisting the money is used for promoting its campaign and raising awareness rather than being given straight to those who need help.
He said: ‘We don’t provide programmes on the ground. We’re an advocacy and campaigning organisation.’
Another spokesman in New York today dismissed the notion of lavish salaries being paid to its 120 members of staff and said the organisation was highly efficient in its raising of awareness.
ONE said it took no money from the public and that most of its funding came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.