Thursday 12 February 2015

Dogs, Philanthropists, Independence and all

Settling down to catch up on Coronation St I was disturbed by someone at the door. It turned out to be a fundraiser from the Battersea Dogs Home. My faithful hound having also appeared at the door I felt I could hardly resist taking up the offer to give them a DD donation.

In fact I'm rather prone to signing up to fundraisers. I've done that for people who popped round from the British Heart Foundation and VSO. And I also can't resist the charms of street fundraisers, or ‘chuggers’ as some term them. So I have an eclectic list of charities I support; but then as the CEO of ACEVO I can hardly turn them down. And it’s a bit like market research for me as I get their literature through the post or the emails. Shelter are particularly assiduous in their search for funds. But then they need to be. Getting support for the homeless sector is difficult. Hedge fund managers and their ilk like something more cuddly, and we have such a long way to go before such people match the level of giving that their counterparts do in the States. Of course there are exceptions, but it is still a dismal fact that poorer people give a higher proportion of their wealth to charity than rich people do.

This is a point that people like Thomas Hughes-Hallett have been labouring for some time. I had lunch with him recently and he was outlining his plans for an Institute of Philanthropy. A much-needed innovation and one to be strongly supported. And he has managed to secure the support of a good philanthropist who is putting a substantial endowment behind this project so it can really motor in a big way, making an impact where it is needed. Thomas is one of the sector greats (I got to know him well from the infamous government ‘listening exercise’ where we laboured together on choice and competition), and it was a rather enjoyable lunch – we discovered we both have a love for the English choral tradition. He supports The Sixteen’ and the choir of Westminster Abbey.

Yesterday I was speaking at the launch of the Independence Panel’s final report on ‘An Independent Mission: The Voluntary Sector in 2015’. You can read it here.

It raises some fundamental issues and concerns. It raises he concerns many of my CEO members have been raising about the politicisation of the Charity Commission. It agrees with ACEVO that the Lobbying Act must be repealed as soon as the next government takes office.  And it challenges sector leaders to continue to speak out. We will. Well, I certainly will.

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