It’s been difficult to avoid the recent headlines about the falling value of the pound and its downward slide to a 31-year low against the dollar in October.

The causes are varied and complex, but when the pound in your pocket is worth less abroad, it’s not only holidaymakers that feel the squeeze. The impact for a charity like Send a Cow is enormous, making it more expensive for us to meet our commitments and threatening our ability to deliver our life-changing work for families in Africa.

How we organise our finances

Our financial year runs from the start of July to the end of June, so on 1 July we agreed this year’s project and expenditure commitments with all our Country Directors. As a result, they were able to make a commitment to the communities they work with, bringing the promise of hope and the means to transform their lives.

The majority of the £6.5 million we raised in 2015-16 was in pounds sterling (£). We regularly send money to our country programmes (Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Rwanda, Uganda, and Zambia) in local currency to pay for the work we are doing there. This funds the teams delivering the essential projects, so they can pay for a vital extension worker to reach a remote community, or for seeds and livestock that will help a family to feed themselves.

What's happened over the past few months

Since 1 July the value of the pound against the currencies in these countries has fallen by 12% overall, so the pound in our pocket is now worth only 88p. Based on the current exchange rate we will face a cash shortfall of £480,000 by the end of our financial year. We are faced with the prospect of finding this extra income, or having to let down the communities we’ve committed to help.

Patrick Sambaga, SAC Uganda Country DirectorPatrick Sambaga, our Country Director for Uganda, says:

The effect this has on the ground is very hard. To put it in simple terms, a cow used to cost us £650 but now costs us £750, as the pound is worth 15% less in Uganda. We have to pray we can raise more funds, or we’ll have to cut back our work and let people down.

What we've done to mitigate the challenge

As a small charity we hold modest reserves for emergencies, so do not have enough money to cover something like this. We have, however, done our best to address the situation in which we find ourselves. Immediately before the EU referendum, for example, we transferred the maximum amount of money at the best exchange rates – a move which turned out to have been wise.

Since then, we’ve made sure we hold funds in other currencies to spread the risk, and we are also looking into other strategies to protect the money entrusted to us. Our teams across the organisation are also looking at whether we can be more efficient and save further money. And we are beginning to have conversations with project funders to ask for their support and understanding during this time.

Thank you for your support

This isn’t the first - or probably the last - time that Send a Cow will face a challenge like this, but with your support we know we can overcome it. We know that together we will find a way to deliver the commitments we’ve made to communities in Africa without compromising on quality or turning people away.

Thank you.

Paul Stuart
Interim Chief Executive Officer, Send a Cow

Exchange rate calculation correct as at 3rd November 2016