Posts By: Kaye Wiggins

Openness and transparency are a long way off

At the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ annual conference yesterday, its chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington called for greater transparency about the Work Programme.

“It is appalling that voluntary sector organisations are being gagged,” he said, referring to the clauses in some Work Programme contracts that say organisations will “not do anything which may attract adverse publicity”  to the Department for Work and Pensions. Read more on Openness and transparency are a long way off…

What’s better for jobseekers – Poundland, or quality volunteering?

I heard a variety of tales while researching an article about charity volunteers being put on welfare-to-work schemes. Most were related in blunt terms by exasperated-sounding charity employees, and all had worrying implications.

It seems that in some cases, charity volunteers who are claiming benefits have been told to stop volunteering in order to complete full-time work training schemes, some of which involve unpaid work placements at private sector firms including the retail chain Poundland. Read more on What’s better for jobseekers – Poundland, or quality volunteering?…

Charities should be more confident in their deals with corporates

The story in yesterday’s Guardian, which said the charity Variety Club was receiving less than £4.50 per year from each of the shoe recycling banks emblazoned with its name, will have surprised members of the public – many of whom are already wary about the proportion of their charitable donations that make it to the front line.

Looking into the story a little deeper, the details became slightly blurred: the European Recycling Company, the private firm that runs the collection banks, insisted it was not accurate to use a cash-per-bank figure because the firm agreed a yearly donation with the charity that was not directly linked to its profits or its income from donated stock. Read more on Charities should be more confident in their deals with corporates…

What price training for charity shop volunteers?

The last time I took a donation to a charity shop, it was a great experience.

I took an unwanted jewellery box, full of costume jewellery, to a Cancer Research UK shop. The volunteer behind the desk could not have been more excited or grateful for my gift. I left with the warm glow you get from doing something good. Read more on What price training for charity shop volunteers?…

A big society minister would need a huge amount of power and influence within government

One of the main recommendations in yesterday’s Public Administration Select Committee report on the big society was that the government should appoint a big society minister.

The new appointee, the report says, would have “a cross-cutting brief to help other ministers to drive through this agenda”.

Judging by the initial reactions, the voluntary sector is dubious. Umbrella bodies point out that Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, is already more or less doing that job. The addition of a new minister, they say, might create even more confusion about an agenda that is already poorly-understood by charities, civil servants and the public. Read more on A big society minister would need a huge amount of power and influence within government…

Dunsfold hearing does not bode well for villagers’ school plans

Earlier this week I went to the charity tribunal to watch a day-long hearing on a case brought against the Charity Commission by a group of four local residents from the Surrey village of Dunsfold.

Read more on Dunsfold hearing does not bode well for villagers’ school plans…

Giving charity donations as Christmas gifts can be harder than you realise

As Christmas approaches, charities across the UK are embarking on festive fundraising campaigns – often their biggest campaigns of the year.

As they do, they may wish to bear in mind a story I heard recently.

Read more on Giving charity donations as Christmas gifts can be harder than you realise…

Chuggers worried about new PFRA penalties

The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association caused controversy in the
sector last week with its announcement of a penalty points system for
organisations whose street fundraisers break the rules.

“Breaking the rules” could be as seemingly trivial as taking
more than three steps alongside a potential donor, or straying outside an
assigned area. More seriously, it could involve aggressive behaviour on the
street.

Read more on Chuggers worried about new PFRA penalties…

Not much for the riot wombles at Lambeth volunteer speed dating

Last night I went to a “speed dating” event
organised by Lambeth Council.

Before you start to think this was some
strange kind of matchmaking service for public sector singletons, I should
explain. The “dates” were between locals like myself who wanted to volunteer
for projects in their community, and organisations in need of volunteers.

Read more on Not much for the riot wombles at Lambeth volunteer speed dating…

How can the do-gooders who turned up after the riots be turned into long-term volunteers?

This week’s rioting in cities across
England has shocked the nation – but it has also prompted displays of human
nature’s better side.

I have experienced two such displays in the
past two days in my local area, Brixton in south London, where several shops
were looted and a Foot Locker store was set on fire during disturbances on
Sunday night.

Read more on How can the do-gooders who turned up after the riots be turned into long-term volunteers?…