Virtually everyone accesses charitable services at some time in their lives, whether it’s receiving advice on debt, mental health support, playground equipment for children, protecting vulnerable individuals or supporting people with life threatening diseases. Seriously – take a close look at your life and you will find multiple interactions with organizations that you may not even realise were charities. In these times of austerity, the government are relying more and more on charities to deliver key services, whilst at the same time cutting the funding available.
|I studied for the IoF Diploma in Fundraising in 2015|
Charities need a way to achieve their charitable objects; whilst the use of volunteers is invaluable, you cannot run the sector on volunteers alone. Finance, for example, is not a job for the enthusiastic amateur, especially where a charity’s turnover may run into millions. There are roles within charities that can be very well performed by volunteers, and there are roles that need professionals with specialist skills and expertise. Charities need to be managed effectively and efficiently, and they need the right staff and tools to achieve this. They all face their different challenges – for a charity that delivers mosquito nets to Africa, for example, your donation must not only cover the cost of a net, but the procurement, storage and transport of the net, secure money handling (and measures against corruption along the way), and the staff needed to complete all the processes needed to ensure safe delivery to the beneficiary. For a charity that helps homeless people, they need premises, utilities, food, health and safety for the volunteers and staff, and sometimes even protection from those they seek to help. To support medical research, you need a charity that understands the science and can allocate your donation to the most promising research; it would be exceedingly hard to give directly to medical research without expert knowledge.
In order for any charity to have the funds it needs to deliver its charitable objects, most charities must ask for the money it needs – whether that is from governments, trusts and foundations, wealthy individuals or the general public.
I am aware that there are scammers and poor practice in all sectors, but it is by no means as prevalent in the third sector as the media implies. ‘Charity does good job, helps people’ rarely makes an interesting headline. You can research any charity on the Charity Commission website and you can also get an idea of what their overheads are from Charity Choice. But you can’t just estimate the effectiveness of a charity’s work through how much goes ‘directly’ on the cause, look at what the charity deliver (a service charity will have a much larger staff salary, for example). Also, look at who is funding them; big funders have strict criteria before giving their money away.
I am a fundraiser, and I’m proud to be a fundraiser. I will defend my sector, and defend the professionals who work for a greater good. These are my personal opinions, based on the bias I have developed through working for amazing causes, with fantastic people, doing terrific jobs.
- Olive Cooke – a fundraising blog
- The Charity Commission
- Do it for good
- NCVO – volunteering
- Fundraising Regulator
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Here’s a small selection of charities you may not have heard of: