Thursday 27 December 2012

The 'Next Logical Step' For Fake Charity Control

It has been more than encouraging to see that government have now embraced the term 'fake charities'. I'm hoping that the Devil will have something to say about this considering he coined it in the first place.

Longrider has commented on this development a couple of times this week, most recently by referencing an article by Crristina Odone in the Telegraph. His comments are spot on.
I may or may not support pro-choice legislation in Ireland, or protests against “cuts” in government spending. But that is political campaigning, not the charity’s business. I detect a sleight of hand: the nabobs of the charity industry raise money for good works, but spend it on the enjoyable business of lobbying.
Precisely. There is charity and there is political lobbying and the two should not mix. We are now in a position where political lobby groups such as CASH, ASH and Alcohol Concern are masquerading as charities, yet if they had to live by public donation alone, they would disappear overnight. They are not charities, they are thinly disguised front organisations for the temperance movement, intent on lobbying the state to interfere in our lifestyle choices and the Charity Commission should do the right thing and remove their charitable status and the state should do the right thing and withdraw all funding for charities.
We can but hope.

There is more than that when it comes to the likes of ASH and Alcohol Concern, though. You see, these are not just charities which have, or still do, rely on state funding. Both were also created by the state in the first place.

ASH was formed by the government in 1971 because - and I kid you not - our MPs thought that there wasn't a decent anti-smoking organisation in operation. It didn't matter to them that the reason behind that was that the people they serve didn't really care whether someone smoked or didn't, they just threw some money around and formed a 'charity' which now spends its time (and taxpayers' money) 'denormalising' 21% of the population and badgering for more laws with which to do so.

Alcohol Concern was similarly created by the Thatcher government of 1985, again because there was no will whatsoever for the public to throw money into a bucket for some hectoring tosspot to tell us all what to do with our private lives and choices.

If all that state cash were to dry up tomorrow, ASH would survive mostly on the back of pharma funding. The invention of the nicotine patch as a competitor to tobacco has facilitated that, and could arguably have been behind the formation of ASH in the first place. Alcohol Concern have recently lost their Department of Health funding but still receive other state income, while such piddling amounts of voluntary donations are sent their way that they can't really be properly termed a 'charity' at all.

So it's great that this state misuse of our taxes is being recognised at parliamentary level, but it doesn't go far enough. What the Charity Commission should also forbid is the shifting of funds from one charity to another whose activities are materially different to those which persuaded donors to hand over their cash.

If you give your money to a cancer or children's charity, for example, you should be confident that it is being spent on what you identify that charity with. What should never happen is that they take that money off you ... and then forward it to state-created lobbying organisations like ASH and Alcohol Concern (which happens now).

Odone has rightly pointed out that charities like to use their donations to lobby - which is wrong in many circumstances - but it also needs to be highlighted that most large charities also give public donations to other charities, including many fake ones which most of us would disagree very strongly with.

The whole charity sector needs to be swept of all its corrupt practices, and the sharing of money with organisations the general public don't give a rat's arse about is utterly shameful, and harmful to the very concept of charity giving.

Now that state funding of charities is rightly in the radar as something quite distasteful, so too should be the redistribution of donations from charities with which a donor agrees ... to ones which they don't.

It's, ahem, the next logical step in controlling the fake charity menace.


Longrider said...

Ta for the link. Let's keep fanning those flames. Sometimes a meme becomes so big and unstoppable that eventually things change.

prog said...

But Dick, who will tell governments how to force sinners to repent and lead healthy moral lives for the sake of the children ?

Woe, woe and thrice woe....

George Speller said...

There's no safe level of fake charities.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

The term fake charity is becoming increasingly more recognised. If anything, real charities should be making some noise about them lest their own donations decline through lack of trust.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

It certainly shouldn't be the poxy government.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

{Like} :)

Steve Brown said...

I have gathered together information on a number of fake charities from various sources on the net, including this esteemed blog, and have used that information to inform friends of Fake Charities and their activities. Without exception, they were all appalled to find out what their donations were wasted on and ceased donating forthwith to the Fakes. The RLNI (we have a local Lifeboat Station) has been the biggest beneficiary of donation swaps.

As Longrider says here, fanning the flames really does help. My friends are now enlightening others as to what is going on behind the scenes. One lady volunteer (a light smoker) in a local charity shop (CRUK) was aghast when she found that CRUK was assisting ASH financially, she walked out of the shop never to return!
It does not take much exposure to incontrovertible facts and statistics to combat the effects of propaganda in most people other than the certified zealots.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Indeed. A few friends of mine were appalled to find that Comic Relief give tens of thousands to Alcohol Concern every year, and tell me they haven't pledged since - it's very easy for donors to stop giving if they feel their generosity is being abused.

harleyrider1989 said...

Right on Dick. In america we have the same problem Im sure. Fake charities on the grant dole ACS,ALA,AHA ETC............

Bill said...

And still they plough through the public's money...

They are of course playing the 'think of the children' card.

There is a press release from Su Sear a 'Public Health Improvement Specialist for Cumbrial' which has vanished from the NHS Cumbria website but Googles Cache still has it

Which proudly proclaims "Public health team uses pester power in Christmas stop-smoking campaign"

She is also BIG on the lack of parental responsibility and its ahem 'link' to alcohol abuse...

“I don’t want to say all youngsters are bad, but there is a culture that we as adults created – and at the minute there is not the will to uncreate it.”

So clearly another liar funded throughout her miserable existence by the taxpayers she claims to serve. I can't find a link but I'll lay odds she is Common Purpose trained.

Chris Whittaker said...

Dick, i,m sure there are more than 21% of smokers in the U.K, don,t believe Government statistics, how this figure is reached i,d like to know?

Junican said...

Mr Pickles has spoken. Will he follow through? That is the rub. Will he reduce Government financial support for Councils which send people on Common Purpose courses pro rata? Will he do similarly regarding Local Authority contributions to fake charities? Will he act on the Charities Commission to act?
I have no objections to organisations being 'not for profit' provided that the have no shareholders and do not distribute dividends or profits in any way whatsoever (such as bonuses to staff), and that includes ASH. Most golf clubs and amateur football clubs are 'charities' in the sense of 'not for profit'.
But what really annoys me is that some of these organisations can reclaim income tax from contributions. That is where there is special concern when such as CRUK give money to that advertising agency known as ASH. Would it not be wonderful if the Gov stated that refunds of income tax were never intended to fund organisations such as ASH, and demanded that CRUK return such deviated funds to the treasury? CRUK would squeal, but it has ample reserves to restitute. The same goes for the Heart Foundation and sundry others. GIVE US OUR TAXES BACK!
Bt we must note that the MSM is silent. However, if Mr Pickles is determined, and had the backing of the PM and the Cabinet, then he will prevail. We must hope that his 50 suggestions are not just hot air and that he intends that they should be acted upon - some more than others.

John Gray said...

Many charities have to lobby and rightly so. As someone who has worked in the third sector for many years, I find many of the comments here undiscerning and dangerously simplistic. I can remember, for example, all the work that disability charities had to undertake to persuade politicians and local authorities in order to improve access for wheelchair users, the blind the deaf and many other disadvantaged physical conditions. In fact, if a great deal of the comment posted here was taken seriously by ministers, then the quality of life for many people would be seriously impaired. Moreover, the Devil's criterion for what indicates a "fake" charity was badly thought out and, if I recall correctly, that criterion was that if a charity receives more than 10% of its income from government it's a fake charity. What nonsense, because if that were used as a serious yardstick countless organisations would be prevented from doing the good work they do, and particularly so during a recession when donations become much less and subsequently many worthwhile activities at community level would cease. For example, I work with organisations whose usual yearly income from donations and membership fees may only come to a couple of thousand pounds or even less. Sometimes, however, such organisations may apply for a small government grant of say £5,000 in order to undertake a particular venture. On the Devil's criterion these organisations would be fake charities despite the fact that many of them make a difference to someone's life every day.

The key criterion is one already set out in law which is the public benefit test. If a charity can be shown not to work for public benefit but is simply grinding an axe, then, indeed, it should loose its charitable status.

I realise that my remarks here will not be popular with some of you, but I couldn't care less, because whilst it is important to stop charities persecuting the general public (which ASH and co certainly do and thus they fail the public benefit test) it is also important that in one's efforts to change this state of affairs does not, in turn, damage others less fortunate. Sadly, that is exactly where some of you would like us to be headed. In fact, having digested much of the comment on this issue over time, many of you would be perfectly content to return to Victorian Britain.

Lastly, with regard to the government "embracing" the term fake charities, oh please, let's see this for the cynical move it is where a cash strapped government seeks any excuse to save or make money - the same government, I shall point out, which "idealistically" blurred the distinction between government agencies and charities in the first place.

Longrider said...

What nonsense, because if that were used as a serious yardstick countless organisations would be prevented from doing the good work they do, and particularly so during a recession when donations become much less and subsequently many worthwhile activities at community level would cease.

And that would be perfectly correct. If an organisation cannot persuade the public to donate, then it ceases to exist. It is not the place of government to give our money to the third sector.

DK was right. You, sir, are wrong.

...the same government, I shall point out, which "idealistically" blurred the distinction between government agencies and charities in the first place.

But not the last bunch of thieving shysters?

Yes, the sooner the term "fake charity is part of the common parlance and the sooner these thieving charlatans are deprived of their income taken buy force, the better. So, yeah, I'll keep fanning the flames.

Longrider said...

"by force" duh!

Paul McO'Smith III said...

What's your position on "think tanks" or "policy institutes" like Chatham House or the Adam Smith Institute (2 among 100's, I know...) whose sole purpose is to lobby and yet being a "Charity" have a double whammy of not being taxed and also allowing their donors to write off their donations against their own tax?

They're on all 3 sides of politics (left, right and hand wringing) and appear to get a lot of state support this way.

John Gray said...

To begin with, fortunately charities do not receive grants from just government as they may also receive them from other grant awarding bodies such as foundations and trusts - thank heavens, for government funding would never be enough any more than public donations would be.

However, your rather crass and ill thought out remarks illustrate perfectly well what I was saying which is, that this movement has become so intent on hitting out at ASH and co that anyone else who gets in the way, however effective and beneficial to the public, is fair game. This is a kind of crack in the door view of life which is every bit as sick in its own way as the very organisations we are all seeking to attack.

Moreover, let's hope that you are never in a position to have to depend on the support of a charity because if you were then you would certainly be singing a different tune.

Lastly, "sir", what many of the contributors to this debate demonstrate is that they are not very well informed at all on the workings of the charitable sector and have an undiscerning approach to the whole issue. As I have said initially, there is a perfectly good test for charities which is the public benefit test - hence, if you wish to demand that the government acts then let them insist that every charity meets it: rigorously!

John Gray said...

Sorry Paul, but I've never gone into where Adam Smith and co get all their money from. However, I think some of them do very good work even if I don't agree with everything they say. Having said that, it would be interesting to find out If it transpired they were receiving government funding. I say this because given that Adam Smith and the IEA, for example, are both pro-choice/freedom organisations, then would some of the people protesting on this blog be demanding that they too go to the wall?

Longrider said...

We are sufficiently well informed to recognise a vested interest when we see one. It isn't complicated - far from it. Indeed, your feeble attempts to cloak the whole thing in a blanket of "too complicated" and ad hominen attack serve only to make them more risible. Government has no place taking money from us by force and giving it to the third sector - and that means any charity. There's nothing remotely ill-thought out about it.

There are charities that manage perfectly well on independent donation, which is precisely what they should be doing. All of them. Those that cannot garner sufficient interest and subsequent donation will fail, which is as it should be.

Given the amount the state takes from us, it is hardly surprising that donations are falling. I certainly do not give when the state takes from me and gives to causes I do not wish to support. That will continue until such time as the state divorces itself from the third sector in its entirety and returns to me the money so that I may decide where it is given.

As I said, DK was right - although too generous in my opinion. No charity should receive any money whatsoever from the state. And if members of the third sector are starting to squeal as you clearly are, something is finally getting through. That is a good thing, not a bad one.

Longrider said...

...then would some of the people protesting on this blog be demanding that they too go to the wall? Yes. All quangos and think tanks have no place being funded by government (i.e us by force).

Paul McO'Smith III said...

Hi John, from their website both organisations claim charitable status and claim to be funded solely from donations. Same goes for similar orgs on all side of politics after a small amount of digging. Chatham House is certainly (partly) funded by government, both UK and foreign, and so this definitely falls into the same "fake charity" bin from where I sit. The fact that, in this case, they have a very close relationship with UK political parties makes this all the worse!

Having said that I think they are a positive force and so have no real objection to what they do or how they are run and funded. Taking this position though means that I can't really place myself in a position where I am okay for this funding and charity model to be okay for organisations I approve of and not for those that I don't.

JonathanBagley said...

Excellent that a few feathers are being ruffled. When commenting on these issues, remember to write,"the Fake Charity, ****," and always use the phrase, "the anti-tobacco/ecig industry." I stopped my direct debit to CRUK along while ago. It should be possible to really nail them if they don't speak out against the proposed ban on ecigs, which they'll have to do, given their sources of funding. One cancer charity which makes no mention of smoking anyhwere on its website is Breast Cancer Care.

JonathanBagley said...

The problem with your public benefit test is that one person's public benefit is anothers' reminder of what life was like under the Stasi. I might need the help of the Salvation Army one day. That's the one I donate to. Non-judgmental and great unforms to boot. That's what I call a proper charity.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

You beat me to it. ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Charities should be free to lobby, but not if they receive taxpayer funding. Plus, I'd add that if they are happy to take our taxes, they should be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. That might make ASH and AlCon think twice before holding their hand out for state grants. ;)

As for my saying that government 'embraced' the term fake charities. It was a turn of phrase meaning that they are aware of the term and recognise it in certain organisations, which I think is a step in the right direction.

Stuart H. said...

Spot on, apart from Odone's usal bollox about Amnesty, which it isn't a charity (and never will be) but an unashamed campaign group. If it ever became a charity I'd leave it, because I don't support charities and despise their employees play on emotional issues to perpetuate their sorry existence instead of seeking practical solutions to real problems. You can always tell Amnesty has it about right when it is equally loved by any government as it kicks off about another country, equally hated when it kicks off about that government's home policies. Amnesty also doesn't financially support abortions, as Odone also wrongly claims. The Catholic church tried to get the Amnesty stance changed from a neutral stance (which allowed individual members to make up their own minds on cases) to opposing abortion. The membership voted the motion down - massively - and the church responded by banning Amnesty youth groups from Catholic schools and further education colleges. Sorry to spout at length, but dishonest religious twaddle annoys me as much as dishonest neo-puritans, and of course both hide behind charitable status!

Longrider said...

One does one's best ;)

John Gray said...

Okay, Longrider and Dick, let's have some reasoned responses to this one then.

Let's consider the case of the many small charities who operate in communities and make a difference to people's lives every day as I outlined previously.

Who does the work for these organisations? Why volunteers who are members of the public - yes, indeed taxpayers. Soo, when they apply for a government grant, usually from an indirect source, all that's happening is taxpayers applying for taxpayers' money. Yes, that' right, money they've already paid in they get back to undertake worthwhile community work which they want to do. Ever crossed your mind? Nothing wrong with that whatsoever. Not a thing, unless of course, your concept of freedom of choice only refers to those who share your views or interests which seems to be clearly the case here.

Moreover, I cannot see the difference in principle between your approach to this issue and the approach that antismokers take to theirs . You know, the basic position of the antismoker is: "I hate smoking and I want it stamped out everywhere, whatever the cost". In your case it's: "I want any charity in receipt of government funds stamped out irrespective of the damage." Basically, it's an "as long as I'm alright Jack, screw you" approach.

In addition, Longrider, I have asked the question before which you have avoided responding to, and that is, would you have the same view if you were dependent on the support of a charity which receives some government funds? Frankly, as survival is important to most human beings I very much doubt it.

And donations are falling because of the recession and the
correlation has been readily noted and felt by those working in the third sector.

As for squealing or having my feathers ruffled (Jonathan Bagley above), please don't flatter yourself, old chap, because I'm enjoying myself. Moreover, as politicians are very concerned about votes I would like to see the one, in my county at any rate, who would dare propose that charities must no longer receive any government donations
because given the amount of charitable work that goes on here, politically he'd be dead in the water in a month.

Certainly, there is a case for looking at real "fake"charities - those who are time wasters, misappropriate funds, charities in name only or those don't act in a charitable manner - but the foundation on which this campaign is built is badly thought out and you know the old adage - if you start off half baked you'll be fully baked in five minutes.

But never mind, dream on guys, because you're obviously members of the Victorian era fan club.

Longrider said...

I have no plans whatsoever to rely upon charity. As the likelihood is as close to zero as is possible to discern, the question is not relevant. If I find myself in difficulty, I'll do what I always do - look after myself.

No one is complaining about the charitable principle here, merely that it is not the place of the state to fund them and your reasoning is utterly absurd regarding taxpayers getting their money back. You take the prize for doublethink there - cockwaffle on stilts.

There are small, independent charities that do not take taxpayer's money. They are the only ones worthy of support. If they can manage it so can all of the others.

But never mind, dream on guys, because you're obviously members of the Victorian era fan club.

Oh, do grow up. It is this risible bollocks that ensures you need not be taken seriously. All I see here is a rent seeker trying to hang onto his income stream.

John Gray said...

"I have no plans whatsoever to rely upon charity. As the likelihood is as close to zero as is possible to discern, the question is not relevant. If I find myself in difficulty, I'll do what I always do - look after myself."

How lucky you are and smug too. Obviously and I was right you have an "I'm alright Jack approach". However, your remarks are foolish as you never know what might happen to you.

As for risible bollocks, that's funny, because that's exactly the same view I have of nearly everything you've uttered...So I guess that makes us quits.

Longrider said...

Not really - the only smugness is what we have seen from you. Your childish attempt to create a rhetorical trick was treated with the contempt it so richly deserved. As you know nothing about my circumstances, you are not best placed to comment or make judgements. Whatever happens in the future, it won't be much worse than has happened in the past and I have not sought out charitable help then, nor will I in future.

The only foolish comments I have seen here are yours - along with self-important self-righteousness. Like I said, a rent seeker looking to protect his income stream. Not very nice at all.

It's nice to see that we are indeed ruffling those feathers and the sooner we are not forced to pay for you and your ilk, the better..

John Gray said...


"Like I said, a rent seeker looking to protect his income stream."

Oh please keep the well worn clichés, Longrider, my concern is for the disaster that the basal criterion of what is proposed would do to many vital community services from which the taxpayer gets good value, as opposed to what the cost of such services would be to implement if the government ran them through the statutory sector. You know, some of us have spent
a substantial portion of our lives taking seriously the notion of providing services to others - a point which also seems to elude you.

Furthermore, as you in turn know nothing about me, then when it comes to making judgments you should apply your remarks to yourself!

Dick_Puddlecote said...

If you're the John I think you are, I know about you and can say that today's persona is far from the calm and genial one I have met. Bowling in like a bull in a china shop and flinging insults from your first post isn't a persuasive approach, if I may say so.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Well, I believed I was polite and reasoned in my earlier response, but ...

"Yes, that' right, money they've already paid in they get back to undertake worthwhile community work which they want to do."

Firstly, as Jonathan B said, who decides what is a worthy cause and what is not? The EU seem to consider that flying gorillas and a smelly foot dance is deserving of our taxes, for example.

See, my company paid out £180k to HMRC last year, but if I asked for some of that back to fund a charity which lobbies against discrimination of smokers when seeking employment, I'd be told to sling my hook.

Do your taxpayers get back only up to the limit of what they have paid in? Because, if not, they are also using other people's money. Again, this is fair enough if performing good works with which we would all agree, especially if it saves the taxpayer in the long run. But they should not be able to lobby with it or it is an abuse of state funds ... unless other charities which might be in competition or opposition are allowed similar treatment. In your example of lobbying for the disabled, for example, there may be practical considerations whereby some of the more extreme demands (which there will inevitably be with any 'cause') should be afforded a voice to the contrary. Should government give tax receipts to those with a differing view too? I think so, yet I never see this with any of the lobbying done by charities, it always seems to be in favour of what the state generally leans towards anyway.

Plus, as I said, any charity which takes taxpayer funds should also be liable under the terms of the Freedom of Information Act because taxpayers should be allowed to know exactly what has happened to it.

We see this use of charities and arms length bodies increasingly now, extending to local authorities and the police pulling the trick to avoid accountability.

So, considering all the weaknesses of the system we currently have, how would you go about rectifying it? I'm sorry, but the public interest test that you mentioned doesn't seem to be working very well, and is fundamentally skewed in favour of government patronage (the same people who created ASH and AlCon as I mentioned in the article).

Longrider said...

Oh please keep the well worn clichés,

Just because it is a cliché it doesn't make it any less true and given the sting it appears to have evoked, it clearly is. So, yeah, just another rent seeker.

As for the point about value for money - it is irrelevant. If a charity cannot convince enough people to fund it, then clearly its services are not wanted in sufficient quantity. Taking money from others by force is not the answer and is morally reprehensible.

Longrider said...


Chris Mounsey said...

"Moreover, the Devil's criterion for what indicates a "fake" charity was badly thought out and, if I recall correctly, that criterion was that if a charity receives more than 10% of its income from government it's a fake charity."

Actually, the criteria for a Fake Charity are that:

1) it derives 10% of its funding, or more than £1 million, from the government, AND

2) it lobbies the government.