I would like you to read this opening paragraph because it’s approximately what I wrote in February 08, and I am now of the opinion that the situation is far worse, and I propose to demonstrate this fact, because I believe that the Charities Commission should be monitoring this. I will enlarge on this, further on.
Sophie and I have subscribed to some charities over many years long term and also one off. Now we are on a mailing list which is passed from charity to charity, and we are receiving junk mail and presents that we have no need of, but overall costing a fortune to purchase in the sort of quantities that would make it worthwhile, and wrap and post. Therefore, this process has long ago used up almost immediately, the small sum that we sent. I make this statement again because I am convinced that the maintenance of charities is now a marketing industry, supporting not only the charity’s staff but a number of marketing specialists. The nightly advertising on television, and the vast quantity of paper that comes through the letter-box, justifies this statement. What amounts to blackmail of the conscience should be outlawed, especially as it must, by its very nature, waste charity funds, and cause generous hearted people, often poor themselves, to part with money that may never reach the assumed destination, either through waste or through diversification at the other end.
We could not have avoided seeing the terrible photographs of children with deformed faces in I think, Africa. The voiceover said only a small amount of money for child was required to complete the operation, and make these children happy. I am of the opinion that the photography, script writing, travel and advertising rates on TV, if added to the cost of the office work and the operation, the overall number of children who would be treated might be a lot smaller than appears from the advertisement. There is no doubt that the picture of the children was heartrending and you have to be tough to decide that your money would be wasted if you subscribed. Today I had an interesting sideline on obtaining money for charities. A young friend of mine, going to a very forward-looking school, ran a sort of a short marathon for a particular charity and her friends and relatives coughed up, and she sent off quite a good amount. Almost immediately she was deluged with different approaches of collecting money, by the firm that she had sent the money to. This went on for a long period, and then she received a letter suggesting that she should make a sort of codicil in her will for the benefit of the charity. She was 12 years old.
Someone the other day was saying that they had a charity, I’m assuming they meant that they were contributing to a charity, as I can’t see the Charity Commission having to deal with hundreds of people setting up their own charities. This person had collected a four figure sum from friends and relatives as part of the cost for going out to this place where the charity was operating, presumably, to check up on how it is functioning and any problems. The total sum of the trip would be about four times what they had collected. In my experience a lot of these oversee charities seem to be the burden of a local senior religious figurehead. I would have thought that in the initial stages some member or members of the committee would have settled the way the charity was run in the foreign country, with triggers that would demonstrate if things were not right. I find that I hear regularly of people going abroad to check things out. However, to me, it would seem better that a system, run by a government agency, such as the Charities Commission, would have roving representatives, checking up on all charities. They would be more aware of any problems and how to solve them, and the costs to any individual charity would not run into four figures each time.