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Collaboration is key for the NGO sector

As part of our commitment to the NGO sector, Western Union Business Solutions works closely with regulators around the world to help ensure we are providing compliance frameworks that are based on appropriate global industry standards.

By Karen Penney, VP of Payment Products UK, Western Union Business Solutions

The UK NGO team and myself attended the Annual Bond Conference in Westminster which took place at central London’s largest exhibition space, the QEII centre. As main sponsors of Europe’s biggest international development conference, over 1000 delegates within the international charity sector were greeted with a giant Western Union Business Solutions flag upon arrival to symbolise our commitment to servicing the NGO sector. Between inspiring plenaries and debate-filled panel discussions, we spoke with many NGOs from specialisms such as humanitarian, migrant and natural disaster backgrounds, looking to find out how we could get funds to their beneficiaries in challenging areas around the world. 

Bond Conference The NGO team ready to meet over 1000 delegates at this year’s Bond Conference
I was invited to chair a panel discussion titled ‘Getting Funds Into Conflict Zones’ which gave me some fascinating insights into the world of our NGO partners. To set the scene, we used a hypothetical case study about a fictional charity trying to provide humanitarian and development assistance in Syria. Joining me on the panel were speakers from Barclays Bank, Islamic Relief Worldwide and the Conflict Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE), which is part of The Department of International Development (DFID).
Karen Penney, VP of Payment Products UK chairing one of the panel discussions ‘Getting Funds Into Conflict Zones’
Throughout the discussion, several things stood out for me. Firstly, however long you think it might take from having an idea to actually getting money into the hands of individuals or organisations, it will generally take longer. Secondly, the amount of red tape a charity has to go through to ensure they are compliant with international regulations, sanctions and policies is enormous and there are no short cuts. Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, nothing will happen if there isn’t an open dialogue and a huge dose of collaboration between charities, DFID and their financial partners. This, along with an unwavering, steely determination to make sure funds make it to the right place at the right time could transform the sector as we know it.



As part of our commitment to the NGO sector, Western Union Business Solutions works closely with regulators around the world, including DFID, to help ensure we are providing compliance frameworks that are based on appropriate global industry standards. We also invest heavily in technology to actively monitor and identify transactions to reduce the risk of fraud. This provides charities with some much-needed peace of mind that their donations are getting to where they need to be.


Hearing the passion in the voices of both the panellists and the audience was truly inspiring and humbling. Not only do the donations help provide food, shelter, water, sanitation and healthcare, but they also give back dignity and empowerment to individuals who can choose how and where to spend these funds, helping to create the communities and economies of the future.

To discuss your charity's requirements with one our NGO experts please contact enquiriesuk@westernunion.com.