“The 1% for Development Fund demonstrates that every one of us can contribute to overcoming extreme poverty and supporting the Sustainable Development Goals. By donating 1% of their income and becoming directly involved in the selection of projects, its members have shown that each of us can make a difference.”
– Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General
In Resolution 2626 (XXV) of 24 October 1970, the UN General Assembly set a target for official development aid of 0.7% of the GNP of developed countries. However, today the OECD countries allocate on average only around 0.3% of their GNP. A small group of international civil servants therefore decided to start practicing what governments preached by contributing 1% of their salary to development projects.
Over the past 40-plus years, the Fund has invested about 8 million Swiss francs to support some 800 community development projects in 91 countries, mostly in Africa, Latin America and Asia. These projects meet essential community needs but tend to be too small to fit the programmes of large national and international development agencies.
Because volunteers perform all the required work, the Fund spends zero percent of its members’ contributions on administration and overhead. Occasional craft sales and other activities cover any necessary overhead costs. The International Labour Organization (ILO) kindly provides office space and meeting rooms.
Project proposals received via Fund members or from non-governmental organizations are assessed by a committee of volunteers. Its recommendations are reviewed twice a year by the Fund’s General Assembly. The implementation of approved projects is monitored by the committee throughout the year. Further details of the Fund’s operation can be found in our 2016 Position paper and in the Fund’s statutes.
The first 1% Fund was set up in Geneva in 1976; others were established in the 1980s in Rome (based at FAO; see their site here), New York (UN; site here), and Vienna (drawing members from IAEA, UNIDO and other UN agencies). A group of volunteers of VSO International established a 1% Thailand that worked with Geneva to fund numerous projects between 2009 and 2014.