Posts By: Stephen Cook

Open season on the ‘charito-crats’

It might partly be the time of year, but everyone’s jumping on the bandwagon of the Daily Telegraph’s survey of the salaries of chief executives of the big aid charities.

First William Shawcross, chair of the Charity Commission, chose to throw fuel on the fire with his remarks about risk to reputation; this brought an equally inflammatory riposte from Sir Stephen Bubb, and then the international development secretary Justine Greening started talking about transparency in charities (which is a different, though arguably related, subject.)

Read more on Open season on the ‘charito-crats’…

ATM giving is far too clunky

Our analysis in Third Sector earlier this year indicated that ATM giving is struggling to get off the ground, not least because people fail to understand that the contribution is coming from them and not the bank. How naïve can you get?

But leaving that aside in the hope that people will wise up, I have been road-testing the system recently and I’m left feeling that the banks have misjudged the psychology and the sequencing of the giving process. The way they’ve done it is very clunky. Read more on ATM giving is far too clunky…

You can live or die by a soundbite

So what’s the difference, really, between eating cows and eating horses? And what about dogs and cats? And the more you think about it, the more likely it is you might want to eat less meat or even stop eating meat altogether. Read more on You can live or die by a soundbite…

A night at Lord’s with the IoF Partners in Fundraising Awards

A new set of awards by the Institute of Fundraising, the Partners in Fundraising Awards, got off to a good start last night in the hospitality suite at Lord’s cricket ground – not least because of a card sharper who entertained people in the cloakroom queue with some amazing sleight of hand. We never found out if he was part of the official entertainment or just a random fundraiser showing off a few extra tricks he had up his sleeve. Read more on A night at Lord’s with the IoF Partners in Fundraising Awards…

Dry and delightful? Or just dry and dreary?

Until now I’ve never sought sponsorship for doing stuff for charity – unlike my colleague David Ainsworth, for example, who’s run two marathons for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

That changed this month, however, when I signed up for Cancer Research UK’s Dryathlon for January and gave up “the demon drink”, as my mother, with her Methodist background, used to call it. Please feel free to express your admiration for this considerable sacrifice on my Justgiving page. I’ll be giving CRUK the money I save – and no, I’m not saying how many figures that goes into. Read more on Dry and delightful? Or just dry and dreary?…

When charities make the front page…

The journalist and broadcaster Mary Ann Sieghart held up the front page of the London Evening Standard and pointed to Tuesday’s splash story about the Get London Reading campaign, run with the literacy charity Beanstalk. “That says to me it’s a slow news day,” she said. “News is about events, and this isn’t really news.”

She was introducing a debate at the Media Society this week entitled Out of Sight, Out of Mind? Charities and Media Engagement, with two other journalists and three representatives from charities. Most of them – perhaps surprisingly – took a less hard-bitten line than the chair. Read more on When charities make the front page……

Here’s some route one, Dorothy Donor fundraising

I recently spent some time in a part of East Anglia where a lot of elderly people live, and through the letterbox popped a piece of cold, unaddressed direct mail from the British Red Cross, a charity I admire a lot and have donated to at times of disaster. I was there at about the same time last year, when a similar envelope arrived, so this mail shot may be a hardy annual for that postcode.

Last year, the envelope contained a letter about the Red Cross’s work, a donation form, a couple of greetings cards with envelopes, a bookmark and a pen.  The cards and bookmark were adorned with a picture of a red rose – the Humanity Rose, specially bred to mark the 125th birthday of the British Red Cross and named to honour its life-saving work. Read more on Here’s some route one, Dorothy Donor fundraising…

Ed Miliband – isn’t he our man?

Until recently commentators such as Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home have been fond of saying that the Tories’ best asset at the next election will be Ed Miliband: geeky, awkward-looking, poor communicator and a bit Old Labour.

After yesterday, they might need to change their tune on the first three points at least. Even his opponents have conceded that his conference speech could mark a watershed in his career as Labour leader – a transition from a certain inexperience and uncertainty to a new confidence and assurance. Few opposition leaders who haven’t been in office before look like future prime ministers – even Tony Blair looked a bit implausible before he was elected. And Ed Miliband no longer looks an impossibility, as has sometimes been suggested. Read more on Ed Miliband – isn’t he our man?…

Is William Shawcross the right person for the commission job?

The proposed appointment of the writer and journalist William Shawcross as chair of the Charity Commission at least bodes well for a relatively short interregnum. John Wood, an existing board member, took over as interim chair of the regulator at the beginning of this month after the departure of Dame Suzi Leather. A starting date for Shawcross has not been given, and the proposal by the Cabinet Office to appoint him will be considered by the Public Administration Select Committee of MPs next week. Read more on Is William Shawcross the right person for the commission job?…

There is a great deal of churn, turmoil and change going on in the sector

It feels as if the sector has taken a real beating in the last couple of weeks. It’s not so much a matter of big individual hits as of death by a thousand cuts.

Each day seemed to bring a new closure. The educational charity Red Kite, which works with ex-offenders, was sunk by the demands of payment by results. Sharp, another charity for ex-offenders based in Shrewsbury, was looking for a miracle after failing to win funding from trusts. Wiltshire Mind was unable to find the money for its core costs any more. London Civic Forum foundered, citing a lack of political support. Coastnet, which works in deprived coastal areas, went into administration. More than a quarter of charities polled in Norfolk said closure threatened. Read more on There is a great deal of churn, turmoil and change going on in the sector…