6. Charities Have Lost Their Moral Compass
None of us should try and defend charity mismanagement. Nor should we make excuses for any charity which in the past has used hard-sell tactics to raise donations.
But does the entire voluntary and community sector deserve the reputation damage and fall in donations because of the poor management or misdemeanours of a high-profile few? Very many not-for-profits, from the smallest to the largest, behave responsibly and in accordance with their charitable mission. A charity I led for ten years never once made a cold call for donations, or got caught up in any kind of scandal, and I can’t think of a single neighbouring charity that did either.
Donors and company sponsors have a part to play too: to ask questions and be more discerning about where we give support. Ask your favourite charity about their fundraising activities. Maybe check with them too about how they protect your personal details if you are already a donor or service user. Well-run charities will welcome the opportunity to share with you their good practice.
The fact that the voluntary and community sector as a whole has lost so much of the public trust recently is not fair to the very many charities which are well managed and behave ethically. Closer scrutiny is the right course if it exposes bad practice but at the same time celebrates publicly the organisations epitomising what we all want charity to be.
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I have been lucky enough to work with – and on – some good boards in the charity sector. That may surprise you, given that trustees generally come in for a lot of flak – not least from their own CEOs and senior managers. The thing is, good boards don’t happen overnight. You achieve them with patience, care and forethought.
My sympathy to all organisations having to cope with flood damage after recent storms. I know what it feels like because I have been there. I was responsible for putting a recovery plan in operation for a charity when its offices and community centre suffered flooding just a few years ago.
Charities are no different to any other sector in that they are being challenged by the rise of digital. But their slowness to adapt means they face being left behind.