Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Yes, we love administration!

Now that will surprise my team. But I'm thinking of it in its broadest sense, rather than as something I would do as a CEO! 

“Administration”, “bureaucracy"; words usually said with curled lips. But they are necessary. Indeed essential. And we want more of it in charities, not less. 

I was delighted to read in our sector media a report that suggests donors should not favour charities that have low administration costs as they are likely to be low performers. Research, conducted by Giving Evidence and Givewell, is the first empirical data to be published about what administration costs indicate about charities' performance. 

It compared 265 charities from 2008 to 2011 and found that in 2011 recommended charities spent an average of 11.5% of their costs on administration. However charities that Givewell didn't feel confident to recommend spent less on their overheads, with an average of only 10.8% of their costs going towards administration.

I do hope that the venture capitalist (I have forgotten her name fortunately) who has been lecturing us recently about how wicked it is we pay decent salaries and spend money on admin has read this.

What joy; sun at the Bank Holiday. I spent it at my parents in the relative calm of the Essex countryside. Saturday was auction day; I was making various bids through my sister Lucy at an auction house in Cambridge. I now possess a rather fine but faded Persian rug, a Lambeth Doulton vase (by one of their most famous designers) and a small oil painting of a Kentish coast house (by Roland Hilder) which reminds me of my childhood and the Rainham and Hartlip coast houses that surrounded our village. Most have now succumbed to the Kent urban sprawl that will no doubt get worst if Mr Boles has his wicked way!

Rogation Sunday was a time to celebrate the fast disappearing rural countryside and its farming community. I went with my parents to one of the local churches, still surrounded by farms and discovered a fine stained glass celebrating charity.

Stained glass , Bulphan Parish Church

It’s a reference to the biblical text which states," And there remains these, faith, hope and charity; but the greatest of these is charity." 

That's the King James Bible. Modern editions mistranslate the original “caritas" as love but charity is the more accurate reflection of the intentions of the script.

The Churchwarden and his wife (my parents!) with the vicar.

Rogation Sunday is also traditionally the time when they beat the bounds of the Parish. It often involved upturning a choir boy to mark the boundary key points with his head. Health and Safety, not to mention CRB checks, have put paid to that!  They did not do that down here, though the tradition remains in Charlbury (beating the bounds that is, rather than choir boy abuse). I did the walk once myself but they were a bit sniffy about taking dogs so have not done so since.

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