Posts By: David Ainsworth

The Cup Trust case has worn away my sympathy for the commission

Yesterday, we heard that William Shawcross will appear before the Public Accounts Committee on 7 March to address the issue of the Cup Trust, the £176m tax avoidance scheme that it was unable to shut down.

I suspect the committee will want some explanation of what went wrong. This will be interesting, because the commission, it seems, is still adopting the stance that nothing went wrong. Read more on The Cup Trust case has worn away my sympathy for the commission…

Why I oppose Peter Bone’s bill on religious charities

This weekend I was invited onto the TV show The Big Questions, to talk about whether all religious institutions should be charities.

The debate came about because of a Ten Minute Rule Motion, proposed by Peter Bone MP, which proposes that all religions should be presumed to have charitable status. Read more on Why I oppose Peter Bone’s bill on religious charities…

The answer is more sector surveys, not less

Research in the third sector. Is it up to the job we need it to do?

This week’s magazine features an interview with Richard Harrison, director of research at the Charities Aid Foundation, who among other things has launched a strong rebuttal to critics who claim that his organisation and the NCVO have published inaccurate research. Read more on The answer is more sector surveys, not less…

Read more on The answer is more sector surveys, not less…

Don’t thank me for my donation – spend it on the cause

The other day, the subject of thanking donors came up again on our website. This time, it was a link to a blog about how to say thank you but it’s the latest in a string of pieces from opinion-formers, on our website and elsewhere, talking about the importance of thanking donors.

The thing is, I don’t want charities to thank me for my regular, direct-debit gift. I think it’s a total waste of my donation (as well, often, as a cynical attempt to get another tenner out of me). Read more on Don’t thank me for my donation – spend it on the cause…

Does the sector have an image problem?

Last week I went to a round table on stereotypes and the sector organised by Charity Leaders’ Exchange. One of the main issues that arose was the reputation of the sector.

I’d started to wonder about this already, after a couple of encounters with friends and friends of friends, who, on finding out I wrote about charities, shared some less than complimentary views about the sector. Read more on Does the sector have an image problem?…

Could sex for the disabled be a charitable activity?

Sex as a charitable activity? That’s an easy one, surely? The answer must be no.

Yet in the past couple of weeks, there have been two stories about organisations that have backed the idea that sector bodies could provide or support the provision of sex to disabled people. Read more on Could sex for the disabled be a charitable activity?…

Could less popular causes score by comparing themselves with better-funded cousins?

The other day I read something fascinating in a book called Thinking Fast and Slow, the bestseller by a Nobel Prize-winning psychologist called Daniel Kahneman – probably the single most interesting book I’ve ever read about how people think.

Read more on Could less popular causes score by comparing themselves with better-funded cousins?…

Shawcross has the right idea on charity registration

Last week, at a hearing of the Public Administration Select Committee, the chair of the Charity Commission, William Shawcross, among other things, suggested the threshold for registering with the commission should remain as it is, at £5,000. Read more on Shawcross has the right idea on charity registration…

The sector has got to face up to the unpopularity of chugging

The other day, I wrote a story about Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover & Deal, who advocated a ban on face-to-face fundraising.

Elphicke’s remarks were made in passing, as part of a larger debate which focused on other things, but they were made memorable by the level of hatred he displayed for chugging. Chugging, he said, was “one of the great infestations of modern life that lashes out at people in the street”; it was “toxic to the charity brand”. And it was an “abuse and invasion of our personal space”. Read more on The sector has got to face up to the unpopularity of chugging…

How Barnardo’s juggles with the figures

Recently, I had occasion to log onto Barnardo’s website, and I noticed that just about the most prominent thing on it is an announcement that 95 pence of every £1 the charity spends goes directly on front line services.

But earlier this week, Barnardo’s published its annual accounts. These showed a total income of £245m, but direct charitable expenditure of only £194m. The charity spent £46m on fundraising and trading.

So this didn’t seem to add up. The charity clearly wasn’t able to spend 95 per cent of its income on children and young people and their families. Read more on How Barnardo’s juggles with the figures…