Charity…. value for money?

January 16, 2017

It seems as if you are impugning the reputation of a dearly loved old aunt by asking if charities are good value for money but it has been rattling around my head for sometime and there are things to consider.

Firstly it is a complicated matter in that some organisations are charities that you wouldn’t think were. Some hospitals, social housing companies, schools, colleges and their like are charities but I refer to the charities who we ride across continents, run around muddy fields, swim miles and bake for.

I was recently asked to support a friend who was completing a swimathon for Marie Curie. I chucked in £10 but later, after research discovered that only £6.50 of that money went to the cause she was swimming for! Of course there is administration to pay for but other things have to be noted. Marie Curie employed, in 2014, 4,352 staff. Only 3,164 were nursing or staff in hospices. The balance of 28% of the staff were involved with Publicity, Fundraising, Support, Shops and Research.

Cancer Research UK have over 2,000 employees directly involved with fundraising. They also pay surprising salaries: over 39 executives took home over £100,000 pa. This truly troubles me as when it comes to the next senior executive they need to hire they will trot along to the Executive Headhunter who will tell them about talent shortages and competitor pay levels and then look forward to the 15 to 20% commission that they will pocket for finding this bright light in the firmament. Now I’m all for talent but, frankly, the Prime Minister only earns around £145,000 pa. I feel that you could successfully recruit for lower remuneration.

Added to the problem is that many of these organisations have Final Salary Pension Schemes. It is ironic that donations are topping up pensions that most donors can but dream of. Little old ladies paying £2 per month by direct debit? The Royal National Lifeboat Institution has a deficit in its Scheme and was planning to pay £12.7m into their fund in 2013.

Sorry but I haven’t finished. People care about all sorts of things, for example, red squirrels. A quick Google will bring up several charities raising money for these little tree rats. Each to their own as they say. However Gift Aid cost the Government about £1.2 billion pa. Let’s be frank we all tick the box, why not? Free money for the charity? Well sort of, as ultimately it is the tax payer who foots this along with the £1.2 billion non domestic rate relief that charities receive back. So the extra 25% might be worthy for a charity helping those with MS but squirrels?

So you may have the view that anything that brings an end to suffering in foreign lands or a cure for something dreadful is worth twice the price and don’t dwell on the numbers but be aware. I’m more for giving money to a charity that is local and modest and not something that I don’t view as appropriate.

(Further reading from True and Fair Foundation, Charity Choice &

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