Posts By: Sam Burne James

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”. Read more on My day with the vain, corrupt, and unmerged…

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! Read more on Talking points from the Trustee Conference…

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. Read more on Charity is right to join the debate on Ched Evans…

Read more on Charity is right to join the debate on Ched Evans…

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.

Read more on Are marathon charity causes out of step?…

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. Read more on The Manchester Dogs’ Home tragedy takes charity back to basics…

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. Read more on First impressions of the new charities minister…

Check the Green Cross Code before considering a tribunal

The Green Cross code – that’s ‘Stop, Look, Listen, Think’ for the daredevil types among you – has served me pretty well in life. I wonder if the same maxim could stand charity trustees considering a charity tribunal appeal in good stead.

The First-tier Tribunal (Charity) in England and Wales, and its Northern Irish and Scottish counterparts, were created to be a low-cost, accessible, non-legalistic paths to charity justice. Unfortunately, in some cases it seems the option of lodging a tribunal appeal is unjustifiably attractive to charity trustees, whose decision then comes back to bite them.

Read more on Check the Green Cross Code before considering a tribunal…

Transparency and trustworthiness are not the same thing

Apparently there’s some sort of teacake and dog festival starting in Scotland this week – but the big north of the border event as far as I’m concerned has been the publication of the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator’s annual report.

Read more on Transparency and trustworthiness are not the same thing…

Is the regulator’s bread-and-butter approach working?

This might not be the most surprising of revelations, but I must say that yesterday’s Charity Commission public meeting in Manchester didn’t really get my pulse racing.

For the most part it was an afternoon of bread-and-butter stuff – literally so in the case of the first item on the agenda, a sandwich lunch. There followed an introduction from William Shawcross, in which the regulator’s chairman returned to what is rapidly becoming his trademark refrain of “we are not the Stasi”. He was followed by three officials outlining trustee responsibilities across three areas: conflicts of interest, safeguarding and fraud prevention, and campaigning. Read more on Is the regulator’s bread-and-butter approach working?…

Read more on Is the regulator’s bread-and-butter approach working?…

Bad news might be better than you think

Here are three headlines that you didn’t read on ThirdSector.co.uk in recent weeks: ‘Police take swift and appropriate action after charity discovers serious crime’; ‘Charity Commission steps in to stop abuse of charitable assets and sector’s reputation’; and finally ‘Researcher reveals issue charities must understand in order to improve its standing’.

You might, however, have comes across the headlines ‘RNLI employee arrested on suspicion of fraud’, ‘Muslim Aid one of thirteen charities named as subjects of statutory inquiries’ and ‘Nearly half of business leaders ‘concerned about professionalism of charity heads’. Read more on Bad news might be better than you think…