At the time of writing the Times is in full throttle charity bashing – alongside the front page article on CEO pay their latest attack is on evil ‘charities who cold call grieving relatives’ (or the executors of their loved ones’ wills some months after the death when probate has shown that the charity has been left a donation that it is has not yet been received – but you see how the full headline isn’t quite as juicy….)
The charity sector is not above making mistakes and investigative journalism, regulation and critique are all important parts of developing a robust and effective civil society.
But this has been a year of unprecedented attacks on not for profits – on how they fundraise, how they campaign and on their very purpose. Alongside this funding continues to be difficult; the gap between the ‘haves and have nots’ is growing (both in the sector and across society) and the pressure on not for profits to pick up those things the state no longer delivers is growing. This is something we will come back to over 2016 as charities need to adapt to this new landscape.
But at Christmas the NotDeadFish team choose to celebrate the great work of charities and volunteers. In recent years we have highlighted the great work of RNLI, British Heart Foundation and Crowborough Community Responders – organisations where volunteers can literally make the difference between life and death.
We last year highlighted the fabulous work of the Small Charities Coalition – a capacity building charity that continues to successfully support the many brilliant small charities.
For Christmas 2015 we focus on two areas that are very important to us.
Politicians often get a bad press but across the country there are 9000 town and parish councils with 80 000 councillors volunteering often huge hours to help their local communities. From allotments to parks; to charity fundraising and grants and community events local councillors are the massive volunteer force we hear little about. The National Association of Local Councillors gives a useful overview of local councillor work and over 2016 we will be highlighting how town and parish councils work with the charity sector.
The second is the hospice movement. Our Directors made their charitable donation this year to the Hospice in the Weald and over 2016 we have made this our NotDeadFish Charity of the Year. A mark of a civilised society is how they support their most vulnerable.
And yet even here charities are under attack. A former and much respected colleague Kate Lee in her previous role as CEO of Myton Hospice wrote a passionate and well-articulated defence of hospice pay in response to more criticism in the Times on Hospice CEO pay.
That this defence was necessary shows the scale of the challenge that charities and not for profits face. But let’s not forget that the support for charities remains high. That charity staff – who choose to work in organisations with public benefit - work alongside millions of volunteers who give up their time for others. That is worth celebrating at any time of year.