Charities and the direct approach

 

Sir, – A number of contributions to your newspaper have recently highlighted the unsavoury aspects of raising money for charitable purposes. From chugging to knocking on doors, the prevailing view seems to be one of mild annoyance, rather than outrage at what one letter writer describes as “intimidation, fear and scaremongering” at the methods employed by managers in the sector to get money from the public (July 29th).

What may not be widely known is that for many charities that depend on Government funding, their contract stipulates that in order to get and continue to get this funding (taxpayers’ money) a certain portion of their total income must be generated by independent fundraising – the figure can vary but it can be in the order of 20 per cent of total income. So in other words, to get the 80 per cent, they have to spend some money and resources getting people to knock on doors, stop you in the street and other in your-face methods to secure the organisation’s survival.

The charity sector is now big business, and some figures suggest that it is worth billions of euro employing tens of thousands of people. It is sometimes referred to as the “third sector” to differentiate it from the private and public sector. Indeed one of the largest charities in the country distributes over €600 million euro per annum on behalf of the Government and the EU to organisations all over Ireland.

Charitable status is as important to your local dog-homing enterprise as it is to a multimillion euro, multifaceted organisation.

Irish people are known for their generosity the world over. Unfortunately, though, that spirit of giving is being manipulated by a complex web of managerial and entrepreneurial talent, all under the umbrella of what is referred to as charitable status. It is anything but. – Yours, etc,

TOM McELLIGOTT,

Listowel,

Co Kerry.