ZANE charity fundraising appeal
Introduction to ZANE
This article is intended as a short summary, to be followed by a series of more detailed blog posts about my trip to Zimbabwe earlier this year, to observe ZANE’s work, through a network of small charities on the ground.
Additional detail has been put on separate pages, so that readers who are short on time can read the main points quickly.
ZANE (its website is here) is a wonderful small charity which I discovered a couple of years ago, when its founder, Tom Benyon OBE, reached out to me to ostensibly talk about shares! He’s since become a good friend, and has absolutely inspired me with ZANE’s charity work, helping the destitute in Zimbabwe. This was reinforced when I visited Zimbabwe in early 2019, to see for myself the wonderful work that ZANE does.
This very brief video, narrated by Tom Benyon, explains ZANE’s work better than I can;
More information about ZANE
ZANE was founded by Tom Benyon in 2001 in response to the developing economic & political catastrophe in Zimbabwe. This was caused by rampant inflation, collapse of the currency (multiple times, including right now), incompetent & corrupt Government, and the chaotic land reforms which turned the former “bread basket of Africa” into a basket case.
Things have only got worse since, and the country is in a seemingly permanent downward spiral to this day.
Tom Benyon & his wife Jane, are very much doers. So if they see a problem, they actually do something to help people in need. Other examples of their current charity work, include Tom’s prison visiting, and Jane’s food bank in Oxford. Tom was MP for Abingdon from 1979-83.
ZANE is a small (£2.2m p.a. revenues) charity, which operates under the radar, thus ensuring that aid gets to where it’s needed, as opposed to being stolen by corrupt officials. A lot of its revenues come from specific projects (e.g. Govt grants with strict rules), leaving a far smaller amount of individual donations. This needs to be increased, as sadly most donors are elderly, and dying at a rate of about 11% p.a.. So ZANE urgently needs to recruit a new generation of donors
I visited Zimbabwe in early 2019, as a guest of ZANE (NB. paying for my own flights), to observe its activities for myself. Therefore I’ve done the “due diligence” on the ground, and can vouch for the fact that any donations you make to ZANE will directly help the sort of people I met. Literally just £150 will save someone’s life, by providing them with vital medicine or small food grants.
This charity is all about making a little money go a long way.
ZANE operates with a very lean UK administrative function – just 6 part-time staff, who all work from home. So no office, no cars, or other superfluous overheads. The charity’s policy is that all flights to & from Zimbabwe have to be in economy class only.
The team in Zimbabwe is a mixture of staff & volunteers. I’ve met almost all of them, and can personally vouch for them being absolutely passionate, and committed to relieving the suffering of the poor. You couldn’t wish to meet a more dedicated, and kind team of people. It really struck me how much personal pressure their work puts them under – dealing with many harrowing cases, and often having to make judgements which could be life or death, as to how to allocate scarce resources to the needy.
Tom invited me to join the Trustees on a visit to Zimbabwe in early 2019. It was a memorable trip, and it’s been constantly on my mind since.
about little else since I got home. I observed its activities first hand, met almost the whole team of staff & volunteers, plus hundreds of pensioners
ZANE provides humanitarian aid to the destitute (through no fault of their own) in Zimbabwe, with a focus on pensioners, especially ex-soldiers (or their widows), who put their lives on the line for the British Crown.
I’m now a passionate supporter of ZANE, after visiting Zimbabwe in early 2019, as an observer of ZANE’s work, travelling round with the UK trustees. I met almost all the ZANE workers & volunteers in Zimbabwe – an extraordinarily decent, and warm-hearted group of people, who couldn’t be more passionate about their work to help the destitute.
It’s quite something when you experience the desperate situation there first hand. ZANE saves many lives, through distributing micro grants to means-tested, destitute pensioners.
The warmth, and dignity of the people in Zimbabwe, despite the terrible economic & political situation there, really struck me. These are people, of all races, who really deserve our help.
Support for pensioners is its core activity, but ZANE also has a number of other wonderful projects which it either runs, or assists with funding;
Club foot programme –
Hence I want to spread the word of the amazing work that it does in Zimbabwe, and appeal for new supporters. The problem ZANE faces is that, bluntly, about 11% of its supporters die each year. Therefore it needs a new generation of supporters to come forward, and enable its vital humanitarian aid work to continue.
As you can see from the Charity Commission page on ZANE, it receives & spends about £2.2m p.a.. Some of this money comes from time-limited programmes where ZANE distributes grants from other organisations, and Government grants, to help e.g. former Commonwealth soldiers.
A little known fact is that Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) provided one of the highest (pro rata to population size) contributions to both world wars, supporting the UK and our allies. Other, largely forgotten wars in the 1950s & 1960s also saw men from Zimbabwe fighting for the British Crown.
As an ex-military man himself, Tom Benyon believes passionately in the military covenant – that we all have a duty to support those in need, who put their lives on the line for the UK. Help for Heroes is a popular UK charity focused on this issue at home. But little to nothing was being done for Commonwealth veterans abroad. Quite recently Tom successfully lobbied Government to provide funds to help these veterans, with basic food & medical needs.