A report on charity investment published by Acevo this week will doubtless prompt many of Third Sector’s readers to look again at how their charity’s reserves are invested.
In a financial world full of complex jargon and products, it is tempting for charities to leave investment matters to those board members and senior executives who are most comfortable with the professional investment arena. But this would be a mistake.
Over the past few years there has been a growing interest in society, or charity, lotteries. The Health Lottery brought the complex regulatory situation into wider consciousness. Our own report, A Chance to Give, researched sector and public views. Most recently the Centre for Economics and Business Research report looked at the economic case for deregulation. All this has resulted in an inquiry by the Culture, Media and Sport Committee and a soon-to-be-announced UK government consultation.
In June 2013, I began work as the chief executive of a small charity. It was a steep though enjoyable learning curve. Then, four months later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
There are many sweeping statements that I can let slide, however factually dubious they may be. Indeed, those who know me would say I’m rather fond of them myself. However, one particularly sweeping statement in last week’s Third Sector editorial on the subject of Transforming Rehabilitation - “Always in people’s minds is the cautionary tale of the Work Programme” - needs just a little unpacking.
While we appreciate the spotlight on our research in a recent story in Third Sector, this blog offers a more complete view of the findings.
Our research into giving circles – which combine generosity with sociability – identified 80 such groups in the UK and Ireland. We tried to find out how they are structured, why they were set up, why people join and what benefits they gain and challenges they face. See a summary of the findings here.
Newsjacking: we’re all guilty of it – composing a tweet to share or devising a little witticism (#ReplaceFilmTitleWithBacon anyone?) in an attempt to stay on top of the hot topic of conversation. All harmless fun.
This behaviour extends to brands and of course charities, with a few recent cultural memes including #IceBucketChallenge, #WakeUpCall and #NoMakeUpSelfie. But in the midst of all this viral media fervour, are we losing sight of what really matters when it comes to campaigning and fundraising on social media?
For the last seven years, I have been in roles that provide financial or fundraising (sometimes both) support to the third sector. In that time, it’s safe to say I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly. But the toughest meetings I have been in are when the head of fundraising and head of finance are placed in the same room. I have often found myself asking if they are working for the same organisation.
Taking a stand and speaking truth to power takes some courage. When the response of those in power is an overbearing and disproportionate attempt to shut you up, you can bet it is because what you are saying is an uncomfortable truth.
So we have the chancellor, George Osborne, in his Tory party conference speech this month, calling on business to take a stand against the charity sector, as though it were some fifth column. McCarthyesque.
William Shawcross, the chair of the Charity Commission, recently stated that the 200-plus charities established since the conflict in Syria began in 2011 that say they operate in Syria are “inexperienced and potentially vulnerable to exploitation”, echoing the commission’s guidance on Syria that the public should give only to established charities.
There has been talk of how we can best incentivise more people to volunteer. In Britain we already have some of the highest levels of volunteering in the world; but efforts to increase its level from this high base will inevitably suffer from the law of diminishing returns.
Assuming that there is nevertheless a case for trying them out, what incentives might work?