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Full marks for Pell & Bales

There was a bit of lull in the rugby between England and Argentina – in fact, the whole thing was a bit of a lull – so I didn’t object too much to taking a call from a charity on a Saturday afternoon. And when the young woman said she was calling from “P&B on behalf of Save the Children”, the antennae twitched a bit: this must be none other than Pell & Bales, who have been on the naughty step a bit recently. Allegations of inappropriate remarks to cancer sufferers, ‘admin’ calls to people who don’t want to be called – you’ve probably read about it in the press. So I listened intently.

About a year ago I had a call from Save the Children that was pretty lame. The agent stumbled through a script in a monotone, sounding completely detached and uninspired. But this person was completely different: she talked in an animated, well-informed way about the new methods of feeding starving children in the east African drought. She answered questions well, paced it right, wasn’t too pushy about money. She even asked me if I was sure I could manage the direct debit increase I had agree to. It was an impeccable performance.

At the end I checked – did you say you were from Pell & Bales? “Yes,” she said. “We’re a fundraising agency in Kingston.” “Fantastic,” I said.

A bit later, when the warm glow had faded, the cynical reflex kicked in: that line about being sure you can afford it – was that that the latest way of subliminally suggesting to a man that his wallet’s not big enough, prompting him to demonstrate its hugeness to the nice female caller by offering yet more? Hmm. Maybe it’s possible to be too suspicious.

  • Oliver Henman

    Richard,

    Thanks for raising these questions, we’re really glad that you’re highlighting the potential opportunities to use EU funds to increase the resources to target those areas that need support at this time. This is a crucial issue and we want to make sure we can get the best for all parts of civil society.

    My team at NCVO has been pushing to unlock new funds and develop a greater role for civil society within the next cycle of EU Structural Funds over the past year, since the merger with the Third Sector European Network took place in September 2011 to form our European Funding Network.

    We’re going through a detailed process to shape the next round of funding, and we’re working in partnership with the regional members of the European Funding Network, including Network for Europe in the North West, VONNE in the North East, RAWM in West Midlands among others. The group came together for a national conference on 27 April, called ‘Back to the Future: Civil Society Engagement in Structural Funds’ at which point there was a joint call for a specific funding stream for civil society in the next round of EU funding.

    Since then, we have been in contact with a number of partners and potential match-funding bodies to explore the possibility of a greater role for civil society across the country. This includes an initial conversation with the Big Lottery Fund on the role that they might play in the future programme.

    We are now preparing a series of regional events in the autumn, to continue the process of consultation and look forward to connecting with all civil society partners in defining priorities for these potential projects.

    You can see all the relevant information on our website: http://www.europeanfundingnetwork.eu

    The proposals will then be shared with BIS as part of its role as the government department which is responsible for negotiations on the overall EU programmes.

    We believe that this is an opportunity for civil society to play a more active role and to access additional sources of funding; and we agree with you that it’s important to find ways for much more EU funding to be available to local organisations right across the country!

  • Big Lottery Fund

    For BIG’s part, we have held informal and exploratory discussions with NCVO and with BIS about whether we might play a role helping civil society organisations better access EU funds. No decisions have been made about whether or how BIG might be involved. Whatever BIG does here, our decision will be entirely of our own volition, guided by the additionality principle and for the benefit of communities and individuals most in need.

  • James Renton

    Richard
    I must admit I am familar with both lottery and EU programmes and I can not figure out what this is all about? If it is this is about using lottery funding as match in an arrangement similar to ESF Co-financing. It would only work if the Lottery gave their cash to third party or managed the EU cash and their own cash. Either way they would have to ringfence x% of their budget for this purpose. If it was the later your concerns would be partly alleviated i.e. its Big Lottery managing EU cash and trying to make it work with their funds for the VCS. The need for specialist knowledge about EU rules means there is no long term benefit to managing this cash locally better to manage it in one central office with local/regional allocations.

  • Quartny Thornberry

    I have been a long distance runner for over 16 years and it is because of greedy charities that I refuse to ever run for a charity. I think it is wrong to demand runners raise such high amounts of money. I can ask my friends to donate, but most do not have the means to contribute to make the amount that most charities request. I have, rather, spent my time training diligently and have since been able to qualify for London under GFA. However, I think this ridiculous standards set by charities completely excludes good people that would campaign enthusiastically for a given charity…simply because they do not have the means to reach this ridiculous goals. Charities should be grateful to distance runners that take any time out of the training required to run a marathon to raise money for them. The whole point of a CHARITY is the fact that it is designed to be dependent upon the good will of others to give. I think it is absolutely ridiculous that this is the mindset of charities, seems like the thought is one of entitlement.

    • e5otericdviant

      I’m a beginner runner and one day would love to run for charity and would like to be able to go down the fundraising route.

      I understand the need to fund raise but I can see that keeping costs to a minimum would also be beneficial for runners as they know that the money would go to a good cause not be chewed up in administrating the day, a certificate and medal would be all I’d care for, I’d happily pay for my own bar tab afterwards.

      Please try to keep costs to a minimum so that people like me who will try hard will meet your targets easier, I also think that a personal target for fundraising is just that its personal I don’t want it held over me like the sword of Damocles, I’d rather just know what a happy minimum would be and just set my own target.

  • Mark Coombes

    I sympathise, but some tolerance of runners who genuinely struggle to raise the money is key I think. I signed up to a charity place in 2015 I really struggled to raise about £1800 of my £2500 from events, friends, family and colleagues .. only for my employer to withdraw their verbal agreement of donating £500-1000 with just a couple of weeks before the marathon. I put my body through hundreds of hours of training, picking up plantar facitis (which i still have now) and raised what i consider a pretty decent chunk of money and was made to feel really shit by my charity after the event. I will only ever try to get a ballot place from now on and would advise anyone without rich relatives and/or work for a large company full of generous emloyees or live in an affluent area to think carefully about whether you can raise the money.
    Some method of advertising places that aren’t being used would be good (?) surely replacing an empty place with someone who might be able to raise some amount of money would be better than nothing? As someone that would love to run it again I find it painful to hear empty spots not filled.

    • tptoodle

      I totally agree. When I heard about paying money from your own pocket after failing to raised the pledged target i was a bit disappointment. I feel I would rather run for my own health and pay a tenner or 20 to a charity later.
      I will never ever run for a charity where I have to pay from my pocket for the difference I originally pledged for.
      This whole system sucks.