Point of view - Uncharitable opinions

Charities have been in the news a lot recently, but sadly not for their good works.

Charities have been in the news a lot recently, but sadly not for their good works. MPs on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) have recommended that a voluntary regulator should be appointed to ‘clean up’ the charitable sector.

The move has been prompted by allegations of aggressive charity fundraising in which organisations have targeted vulnerable and older people. They are especially unfortunate because they come in the wake of PACAC’s criticism of the weak oversight by trustees of the collapsed Kids Company charity. Some newspapers have picked up the scent with lurid stories about charity executives’ expense accounts.

The picture the allegations paint is not representative of the voluntary sector. Most of the UK’s 165,000 charities, run by nearly one million trustees, perform an invaluable service and are integral to the fabric of our society.

Half of the registered charities in England and Wales have budgets of less than £10,000. These ‘kitchen-table’ charities – small groups of people who spend their free time contributing to their communities – underpin much of organised caring in the UK. This is especially the case when funding is cut and the state struggles to maintain services.

Many top charity brands are associated with cancer care, and they attract millions of pounds in donations every year. At the other end of the spectrum there are a plethora of small local cancer charities that support vital services.

Such is the extent of their contribution that anything affecting the ability of these organisations to raise funds should be a cause of concern for us all.

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About the author

Richard Henry is lecturer in cancer nursing at Queen’s University Belfast and UKONS president-elect.

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