Monthly Archives: May 2010

The time is right for charities to shock again

The headline finding for the voluntary sector in the latest annual report of the Advertising Standards Authority is that the number of complaints about non-commercial organisations more than doubled last year. The figure had already increased by 150 per cent in 2008, from its 2007 level. But this year’s list of the top 10 most-complained-about… Read more »

The strange cross-party allure of Citizens UK

In recent months one of the lesser known charities in the nation has exerted a remarkable influence over politicians across the partisan divide. During the election campaign, aside from the BBC, ITV and Sky, only one organisation could persuade the three party leaders to come together and debate with each other – the civic activism… Read more »

Civil society sounds grandiose, but what is it?

So off we go with the name game once more. A couple of years ago the Conservatives said the Office of the Third Sector would be renamed the Office of  Civil Society to denote the increased importance they wanted to give it. Then they said there had been a rethink and money was too tight… Read more »

Will charities be complicit in the public-sector jobs cull?

Could a little-noticed strike brewing in Southampton signify problems to come for the big society programme of the new government? Earlier this week librarians were balloted on industrial action over the city council’s plan to replace six full-time staff with volunteers. The council says the move will save £137,000. The issue goes right to the… Read more »

Nick Hurd claimed to be serious at his first meet-and-greet, but mutterings were audible

Earlier this week I went to the first meet-and-greet by Nick Hurd with the sector since his appointment as the new charities minister. It wasn’t exactly at the coalface: it was a small gathering of around 50 senior charity staff at a smart central London hotel. But it was a good debut for Hurd. He charmed… Read more »

Volunteer or else! How a nudge could turn into coercion

Is the concept of volunteering as time freely given to the community being subtly undermined? A couple of recent developments suggest that, while no one is being coerced exactly into volunteering, it could soon become an expectation which influences whether individuals get housing or progress in their career. The carrot of material self-interest is certainly… Read more »

Depaul UK’s iHobo app sets a new standard

Charity iPhone apps have until now been like buses: you wait ages, then two come at once. Last week saw the launches of “iHobo” from homelessness charity Depaul UK, and Marie Curie Cancer Care’s “Blooming Great Tea Party”. iHobo, as you may have read, is an “interactive video embedded experiential” application, where iPhone users take… Read more »

Will the new Government stick with the ‘big society’?

At the weekend,  some Tory MPs were complaining anonymously that the big society idea had not gone down well on the doorstep and might even have played a part in denying the Conservatives an overall majority. Today on Radio 4, Tim Montgomerie, who runs the influential Conservative Home blog,  said that the idea had never… Read more »

What the sacked chugger told me

Last week I interviewed the face-to-face fundraiser who was dismissed by development charity EveryChild after he left a folder containing donors’ direct debit details on a street in Norwich city centre.  The incident sparked an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office, which enforces the Data Protection Act.  But when we met, he had a bigger… Read more »

The Community Allowance scheme could lift many out of poverty. Stalling makes no sense

Several months ago Micheal Pyner, chair of the Development Trusts Association, took to the stage at the national conference of his organisation to launch a bitter polemic against the benefits system in the UK. The system in this country, he said, was not a stepping-stone out of poverty, but a trap which keeps people in…. Read more »