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Progress on private schools and public benefit

When it brought in the Charities Act 2006, the last Labour government left it to the Charity Commission to try to ensure that independent schools provided sufficient public benefit to justify their charitable status and the tax advantages that go with it.

My day with the vain, corrupt, and unmerged

There was a sense of excitement as the outspoken Sir Tim Smit, the co-founder and executive vice-chair of the Eden Project took to the stage at the Acevo Annual Conference 2014 yesterday. Smit is never backwards about coming forward (appropriate really, since ‘Tim Smit’ is a palindrome), and started his speech/rant – he admitted that he hadn’t really planned what he was going to say – by warning that he was “going to say some very horrible things”.

Talking points from the Trustee Conference

With a keynote that was well argued and well received, with attendees nodding their approval, Philip Kirkpatrick was perhaps the highlight of Monday’s Trustee Conference, organised by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and supported by Kirkpatrick’s firm Bates Wells Braithwaite, which marked the start of Trustees’ Week.

Here’s a buffet of the other things that piqued my appetite in between Kirkpatrick, and the short and light speech from the charities minister Rob Wilson that rounded off the day. Bon appétit!

Charity is right to join the debate on Ched Evans

The public discussion over the future of Ched Evans, the footballer released on Friday after serving two and a half years in jail for a 2011 rape, has been understandably heated.

The rehabilitation of offenders and the ability to forgive are complex topics, especially in a society where attitudes of victim blame and male entitlement are often the norm with relation to the hideous crime Evans committed.

Are marathon charity causes out of step?

The leaves are falling off the trees and it’s party conference season: that can only mean one thing – it’s time for the London Marathon to send me Sorry! magazine, as once again luck was not on my side in the ballot for a place next year.

The Manchester Dogs’ Home tragedy takes charity back to basics

Extraordinary. I don’t use this word lightly, but the public response on JustGiving to the fire at the Manchester Dogs Home last night has been quite literally extraordinary. And not just under the allegedly controversial newfangled definition of the word “literally”, either.

The total raised for the charity running the home was £130,000 when I woke up, just nine hours after the JustGiving page was set up by the Manchester Evening News, and only 12 hours after the fire itself. By the time I got to my desk, it was £400,000. When I finished writing my story on this literal whirlwind of charitable support just a couple of hours ago, it was £560,000. This had risen by nearly another £100,000 by the time I had written my first draft of this piece.

B****cks or knitting? You choose…

A cartoon by Steve Bell a while ago showed a masked robber in the Big Society Bank being told that they didn’t have any money as such – only bollocks. “Put the bollocks in a bag, and hurry,” says the robber.

The original of this cartoon was presented as a farewell gift yesterday to Nick Hurd, who resigned as minister for civil society in July, by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Hurd was, of course, the apostle of social investment and one of his proudest achievements was the launch of the bank – actually called Big Society Capital – in 2012.

I did the ice bucket – and I donated as well

Earlier this week, I joined the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Victoria Beckham and George W Bush and participated in the ice bucket challenge.

I can’t say I was surprised when a clip of a friend doing the deed and nominating me to go next popped up on my Facebook account; having seen my feed gradually fill up with these videos over the previous couple of days, I knew it was only a matter of time.

First impressions of the new charities minister

Ask tricky questions, went the instructions at an event hosted by St John Ambulance on Wednesday, where I had my first opportunity to met Brooks Newmark, the new Minister for Civil Society. “But please be polite when you do.”

That instruction wasn’t for me, but the dozen young people present – St John Ambulance volunteers and Volunteer Police Cadets – two of the 14 youth groups benefitting from a new £10m pot of Libor fines, which Newmark was there to publicise.

Is the National Citizen Service worth the investment?

The latest independent evaluation of the government-backed National Citizen Service, which is delivered by a range of organisations including many charities, is a seminar in positivity.

The findings from researchers at Ipsos Mori reveal a highly popular youth scheme – no less than 97 per cent of participants who took part in 2013 would recommend the programme. It also shows the programme helped young people to improve a range of skills.