A huge amount of time and energy have gone into the Lobbying Act. Debates in parliament; debates within the sector; individuals within charities interpreting the Act; individuals within charities discussing it with their colleagues, trustees and senior management; reviews by Commissions into its impact; seminars and tutorials provided by consultants. The list goes on.
The nfpSynergy Blog
I clicked onto Third Sector’s website last week to read the charity news. It’s a sad sign of the times that two of the first three stories were damaging for the sector. Even sadder was that they were both about fraud. It’s not unusual. I began to think, is the charity sector just more vulnerable to theft? Possibly, possibly not. I really don’t think it matters whether it is or not. And here’s why.
Since starting as a Research Assistant at nfpSynergy a little over three months ago, I've been surprised at how shallow my understanding of the charity sector was. Before coming here I volunteered as a researcher at a very small NGO. At the time, I thought that working on a project proposal and dealing with grant applications gave me some idea of the challenges that charities face, but after a few months of working on our Monitors and reports I've realised that the charity sector is far more complex than I knew.
Lots of charities condemn government spending cuts. The list of things that charities say are threatened by spending cuts is almost endless and in many cases they are right. While charities are doing that, many politicians call for, or promote, tax cuts. If both of these wishes were granted, the government would spend more and earn less. However, spending more and taxing less is no way to plug the hole in the nation’s finances. The government already spends far more than it earns and that’s why we have a deficit.
It has been another full and fulfilling year at nfpSynergy, providing research to support a diverse range of charities with a diverse range of needs. Naturally, many of these needs reflect the ongoing climate of a competitive and relatively austere market place. In light of this, how can charities best respond? Essentially, how can they deliver more with less?
My ceramic poppy arrived in the post today – one of the 888,246 made for the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” at the Tower of London, a poignant commemoration of the centenary of the start of the First World War. It has moved thousands of visitors and was an inspiring fundraising initiative, with the proceeds of each sale benefiting selected service charities.
There are many things that go together at Christmas: mince pies and brandy butter, carols and candles, presents and Father Christmas, TV and falling asleep and, hopefully, charities and giving. Evoking powerful emotions and memories is what much of Christmas is about and charities should be at the heart of that, exploiting the association to persuade people to give during the festive season.
Some call it ‘digital activism’, others refer to it less favourably as ‘slacktivism’. Either way, there’s little doubt that what we’re able to do to support a cause with only a mouse and a laptop has changed the charity sector dramatically. But just how effective is ‘clicktivism’ and does it have a place outside of politics?
A recent Ipsos Mori report found that the UK was the fifth most accurate country of 14 included in a study of the gaps between perception and reality. Despite this relatively high ranking, the report reveals a dizzying array of under and overestimations.
As a Scot living in London, I largely watched the referendum debates from a distance and was amazed by what was happening, and is continuing to happen, among friends and family back home. Over the past two months, I’ve watched the posts on my Facebook newsfeed change. There are far fewer videos of cats and far more links to petitions and articles, with more of my friends writing their own opinion pieces.