As the minister for civil society warns charities to ‘stay out of politics’, we urge him to reform this messy sector
The Steeple Times has long called for better regulation of charities. Our contributor Gina Miller is a leading light in this regard and our editor, Matthew Steeples, was very much part of a campaign that brought to public attention what is wrong about the way that charities are allowed to allocate the resources they receive. We were, therefore, quite surprised to learn of the new minister for civil society’s remarks about charities and politics last week.
The minister, Brooks Newmark, commented:
“We really want to try and keep charities and voluntary groups out of the realms of politics. 99.9 per cent do exactly that. When they stray into the realm of politics that is not what they are about and that is not why people give them money. The important thing charities should be doing is sticking to their knitting and doing the best they can to promote their agenda, which should be about helping others”.
Whilst The Guardian’s Hannah Fearn predictably reacted against the “tortured ‘knitting’ analogy”, that is not we have the problem with. Newmark, in saying what he has, has missed the point.
In a 2011 article for The Independent, Janet Street-Porter rightly pointed out that “the giving sector is a mess” and dominated by “trendy… vanity charities” run by “highly paid executives” and this is what Newmark should be getting worked up about. More recently the Ice Bucket Challenge, whilst having raised millions in donations, also highlighted the vast salaries awarded to those running charities. That just $7 in every $100 donated to that organisation is an example that speaks volumes.
Brooks Newmark should be calling for more transparency as regards how charities allocate the donations they receive. He should also work towards the closure and replacement of the hapless Charity Commission. It has done so little to regulate this industry and protects those running charities rather than those who donate to them. It is time for change and we call upon Brooks Newmark to be the man to seize the moment.
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