Umm, yes.

Wendy Watson MBE, who was also a trustee, was paid from the charity’s £909,634 budget. In total £874,539 was set down in the charity’s accounts as “fundraising expenses and other costs”, with just £27,403, or 3 per cent, left over for charitable activities.

This is a test which not quite all of those political charities would pass all that well, isn’t it?

How many kids does Barnardos actually aid these days, instead of calling for more aid?

47 thoughts on “Umm, yes.”

  1. If the Tories had any balls they’d be changing the law so that charities had to spend a certain fixed percentage (say 80%) of their income an actual practical measures related to their charitable aims, not including campaigning.

  2. @Jim, I wouldn’t go so far, but all charities should be forced to prominently display the ratio of charity spend vs money raised and the percent funded by the state.

  3. The simple rule of thumb nowadays is that if you’ve heard of a charity it’s almost certainly not worth supporting. Noble exceptions are the RNLI and the RHS.

  4. In the U.S., private foundations are required to pay out 5% of their assets each year. Perhaps a similar rule could apply to charities in the UK.

  5. The % of a charity’s income that comes from the taxpayer should be a big fat zero. Money demanded with menaces is not charity.

    The charity sector is yet another scam to provide cushy employment for the denser members of the British middle classes.

  6. As far as the RNLI goes this from the 2015 accounts shows they are hardly struggling, further digging shows they have joined the over paid executive class and have room for “wellbeing” managers on £45k, make your own mind up on whether they need your money, they certainly don’t like spending it.
    “As at 31 December 2015 the RNLI had consolidated net assets of £745.3M, primarily representing its fixed assets of £427.1M and investments of £273.6M. While our total funds increased by £23.5M, all of this increase was invested in our capital programme, through the movement in fixed assets of £23.2M, and there was a reduction in our investments of £16.6M to pay for new lifeboats and lifeboat stations, which was actually less than planned as we experienced some slippage on our capital programmes”

  7. MC

    The issue there is that some of the money from government is paying for services rendered – running homes etc.

  8. @Ken, cheers for that. If we could get the Charitable spending bar (bottom right hand graph on that site) to be displayed next to the charity number on all forms and letters.

    Now to get similar information for Ireland. The charities regulator site doesn’t have the same detailed breakdown.

  9. @gunker

    It appears though that this doesnt work that well since it appears the dodgy charity above managed to spend most of its money on itself – running a loss making series of shops and still claim it all as charitable works…

  10. wiggiatlarge,

    If the RNLI is doing its job well (and it seems to be when I check lifeboat station records when I see them) then why worry if they are running reserves?

    A wellness manager can simply be the modern terminology for the person responsible for ensuring the health of the crews, which you would kind of hope the RNLI would have since the crews are still their main asset. It could however be some sort of new age lunacy…

  11. @ ken
    The problem is that Tony Blair changed the law sdo that campaigning for Labour Party policies could be (mis-)defined as charitable.

  12. @John77

    In the case of the National heritable breast cancer charity their revenues went into salaries, cogs, shop rental and fund raising. The percentage spent on “fund raising” according to the charity was tiny, but the costs of running the operation are such that the charitable activities appear minimal.

    In the case of Barnado’s they claim to spend a mere £7ish million on comms. (or supporting the Labour party as we would say).

  13. Mr Ecks

    Yes – they’re useless. Just as they did nothing to roll back the support that the unions get from the state. Osborne has a great deal to answer for, the idiot.

    We havent seen any progress on finding the toerag teachers who used school resources to press parents to vote for Labour at the last election either.

  14. Charitable trusts usually do pay out a percentage of their income each year. To charities or charitable causes.
    A chunk of the charities are supported this way.

    As a fundraiser the spend/income ratio for me was around 1 in 5. For every pound spent on fundraising (ie my salary) I could average out, over multiple years, around £5 income. Good years this could be £10 for every pound, bad years could be just £3.
    Too good an income for the charity means you aren’t as needy as another charity with worse income.

    Best results for spend was known as legacy fundraising – where you persuade people to leave money in their will. Usually used by the bigger charities, income rate could be above £50 for every pound spent.
    Shaking tins is probably the lowest income section, charity shops can of course make a loss – as a group of shops you would overall expect a profit for the charity. Much of their income however would be running of the shops, just like any retail business has.
    Free stock and some free workers only goes so far in helping pay the bills. Business rates (even discounted), rent, heating, lighting, insurance, security, waste disposal, telephone etc all cost money. Before the charity gets a penny.

  15. > running a loss making series of shops and still claim it all as charitable works

    If your charitable aim is to train unskilled people into shop work, then that counts as charitable work.

    But I don’t see why charities in unrelated field (breast cancer or whatever) should get the same exemption.

  16. 3%?! We have “Not for Profit” organisations, do we also need a “Not for Charity” designation?

    All those people who chucked in a pound will be delighted that 3p went to the cause, and will also be delighted that she was able to employ her daughter.

    Fucking hell.

  17. @ Martin
    Shaking tins used to have a massive income:cost ratio when it was limited to Poppy Day, RNLI and Christian Aid Week with zero personnel cost. It doesn’t work if you start employing paid staff instead of volunteers.

  18. @ Mr Ecks
    While New Labour and its allies have a built-in majority in the House of Lords the Great Repeal Bill hasn’t a snowflake’s chance in Gehenna.

  19. john77, it does not work so well when having to pay a manager of volunteers and the shaking of the tins being the 200th time someone has done that in front of those people that year.

    I can think of several local charities that raised less than the cost of fundraising from doing that – then got narked when I suggested paying for skilled help (not me).

    A charity shop does not necessarily make 3%, can be a loss even. One in my local town will have costs associated with it of around £150k before they start making any money for the charity.
    People think charity shops make loads because they don’t have any costs. They have high costs and cannot choose stock they know will sell, they can only choose from stock donated.
    Your average trading arm that isn’t a charity shop can make more money to be honest. I ran the figures multiple times for multiple local charities wanting to open charity shops, they all decided to stick with charity shops. And every one of those charities shut the shop as soon as the break clause in the lease or end of lease allowed.

  20. @ Martin
    When it was three times a year. Also the manager of volunteers was him/herself a volunteer.

    You are, of course, right – chuggers have put people off donating to even genuine charities.

  21. Bloke in Wiltshire


    I don’t trust any big charity now and don’t believe it’s necessary at that level any longer. I give to charities that are small enough to have a single, measurable purpose and can fit all their staff into a photo.

    I also avoid charities with websites that are too shiny and ever phone me asking for more donations (which means they’re using agencies)

  22. Ah chuggers. Have done over a dozen complaints about them being too persistent. I do not blame the staff, I do blame their training and the pressure to sign people up.

  23. @The Meissen Bison, August 14, 2017 at 11:01 am

    The simple rule of thumb nowadays is that if you’ve heard of a charity it’s almost certainly not worth supporting. Noble exceptions are the RNLI and the RHS.

    I add the PDSA to your list.

    @wiggiatlarge, August 14, 2017 at 11:32 am

    As far as the RNLI goes this from the 2015 accounts shows they are hardly struggling, further digging shows they have joined the over paid executive class and have room for “wellbeing” managers on £45k, make your own mind up on whether they need your money, they certainly don’t like spending it.
    “As at 31 December 2015 the RNLI had consolidated net assets of £745.3M, primarily representing its fixed assets of £427.1M and investments of £273.6M.

    “wellbeing” managers is worrying.

    Fixed assets of £427.1M is not – hundreds/thousands of lifeboat stations all around British Isles, Falklands, Gibraltar,…

    They do an excellent job and undoubtedly with fewer staff and at lower cost than a Gov’t alternative.

  24. Bloke in North Dorset

    RNLI funds are really complicated because they get a lot of large donations that stipulate the purchase of a life boat, often to be named, and those funds cannot be used for

    Tin rattling is mur than just about funds, its also about raising awareness of the charity, although I agree thanks to chuggers most people just turn a blind eye.

    I had no problem going door to door for donations to the Poppy Appeal. I used to go about 7pm and without fail people would go and get some money, even if they were in the middle of dinner.

  25. RNLI – the crews do a great job, and someone needs to sort out the boats. But I hear worrying things about the organisation, partly that they aren’t supporting the crews as they should (don’t know whether that’s true or just a few moaners), partly that they’ve got so much money they’re blowing it on things that don’t really help.

    The second looks very possible. They’ve got a huge new office building in Poole that looks like a bit of a white elephant. Also they’ve built their own shipbuilding business which I’ve heard said wasn’t necessary except to satisfy the Charity Commission that they’re using their money for charitable purposes.

    Looks a bit like victims of their own success. My guess is that they’re still, on balance, a good thing, but that the corporate money-wasting side seems to be growing a bit much.

  26. Social Justice Warrior

    Alas john77 takes leave of reality as soon as he mentions the Labour Party. The fact is that Charities are currently governed by the 2011 Charities Act, passed under Cameron, which largely replaced the 2006 Act. Neither act addressed the constraints on political activity by charities. However, the 2014 Lobbying Act introduced new restrictions to apply during election periods.

  27. SJW – the Charity Commission guidance on campaigning for charities was changed under the Labour government (I think Brown rather than Blair).

    Fairly sure it was when the Commission was chaired by Suzi Leather, the “Quango Queen” appointed by Blair.

  28. Bloke in North Dorset

    I went on a tour of the RNLI college in April, it didn’t seem excessive. Those crews have to housed and trained somewhere. There’s a nice restaurant and function room which can be used privately to raise money. It’s also possible to stay in the rooms.

    The training facilities are excellent, but when someones volunteering to risk their life why shouldn’t they be? The simulator is amazing.

    I met an RNLI boat designer on a course and he said their standards were exacting and a lot of private builders, including his employer were finding it hard to meet them.

  29. BiND,

    Voluntary tin rattling can also be a good signal regarding the organisation. It means the organisation keeps its feet on the ground. It can get people to help out because those people judge it to be a worthwhile organisation.

    It’s why chugging is dishonest. You get approached by some wide-eyed, student type, you think they’re supporting Oxfam out of the goodness of their heart, like people did in the past.

    If a charity needs professional fundraisers, well, do those people care about the aims of the charity, or is it just about keeping a roof over their heads? Why, therefore, should you give a shit?

  30. Two things about the RNLI.

    Better to have reserves than not have reserves, obviously. It does help guarantee your future for when contributions run light. Charities are required to have “reserve policies”, ie to have reserves of (say) at least x% of estimate annual activity or whatever.

    Re contributing to that cause, the RNLI does have many thousands of volunteers. Your £1 may go towards some lifeboat or other essential service (that needs to be paid for), or ensures next year’s ongoing activity (reserves), but essentially that supports a huge bucket load of other “value” being carried out, ie volunteers, and which is not recorded as a cost in those accounts.

    Without volunteers, your £1 contributed might have £0-£1 of effective value, often not so great a % in the case of some larger charities. For chartities with a large pro rata volunteer force, your £1 can effectively be leveraged to far more than £1. Eg, £1,000 of contribution spent on a tangible asset might enable a volunteer to contribute many hours of valuable activity to that cause (and which is not reported as cost in the financial accounts).

    A massive potential difference between the two models, and the value of your £1.

  31. @ SJW
    After 39 years of collecting house-to-house in Christian Aid Week and having ceased to support Amnesty when it chose to start demanding protection for political murderers, I might have *some* connection with reality. [I do support other charities but my gaunt face seems to be helpful in CAW.]
    Blair DID change the rules. That is a fact.
    Maybe Cameron should just have repealed all New Labour legislation in 2011, but he didn’t have a majority in either House since Blair had fixed the HoL to have a pro-Blair majority.

  32. Social Justice Warrior

    john77: do please quote the alleged rule change in the Act. you’ll find the text online.

    “pro-Blair majority” is another of your fictions. The composition is Conservative 254, Labour 200, LibDem 101. The reason there are so many LibDems is that Cameron paid off the LibDems in peerages for the coalition – 51 of them

  33. @ SJW
    So what were the numbers in 2010? You imply that LibDems only had 50. In 1996 there was a Conservative majority, in 2006 there was a Labour majority and you have magically eliminated all the cross-benchers
    Cameron *could, in theory* have done the Asquith manouevre by appointing a couple of hundred of Conservative peers but he did not.

  34. @ SJW
    The rule change
    Pre-Blair Charitable purposes: relief of poverty, education, religion,
    Excluded political campaigns, expenditure to reduce the rates
    Post-Blair – “public benefit”, political campaigns allowed, spending to reduce the rates allowed

    You are *not* that stupid

  35. Social Justice Warrior

    John77: Until 1999, the Conservatives had a permanent majority in the Lords, because hereditary peers tended to support them. After that, Labour achieved a plurality for the first time ever in (I think) 2006. In April 2010 the composition was Labour 211, Conservative 186, LibDem 72.

    Only you could imagine some sort of injustice to the Conservatives in their having a much larger plurality after 2 years in government and 5 years in coalition government than Labour got to in 13 years.

  36. Social Justice Warrior

    John77: what you say about Charity law is unconnected to anything in the Charities Acts. What the 2006 Act did, for the first time, was to give an exhaustive list of “charitable purposes“: the list was based on established Case Law and there was nothing controversial about it. It made no mention of political campaigning.

    Of course, if you’re not just making this up, you’d be able to quote the Act to show that I’m wrong. Which you won’t.

  37. @ SJW
    It is controversial if I disagree with it.
    The list was not established in case law because it includes stuff that I like that was not previously entitled to the benefits of Charities Acts – such as Amateur Sport (music was approved, sport was not).
    My point was that previous legislation banned political campaigning.
    It is after 11 pm and I had to get up before 7 am, so I shall deal with your ill-informed comment in the morning.

  38. Social Justice Warrior

    Yes, ok, if you find the inclusion of Amateur Sport controversial, then it was controversial. I don’t know how that’s relevant.

    my point is that previous legislation banned political campaigning.
    Your point is wrong. There was no relevant change in the 2006 Act.

  39. @ SJW
    The Act is scores of pages long.
    There is not enough room on this blog, so I shall give you a few links to read
    The Labour Party campaigned for political activity to be permitted (Deakin was a left-leaning civil servant then not-very-intellectual academic).
    So did some non-charitable “voluntary organisations”
    who were bigoted instancing straw charities when they call for a “public interest” test for all categories in section 3.5.1. They postulate “churches which do not undertake social activities of benefit to the wider community or
    whose premises are of no architectural or historic interest.” which are a contradiction in terms – if the church (which is people not a building) are not doing anything to benefit those outside the church it is not a church; complain about “independent schools charging fees which the average person cannot afford” ignoring the scholarships offered to poor but deserving pupils – IIRC when I was young every Public school bar one, offerred scholarships awarded on merit – the sole exception being Royal Masonic which only accepted orphans and has zero fees. [I do not regard private hospitals as charities but they would pass a public benefit test, so that was just stupid]
    So we had demand for “reform” from the Labour Party and well-meaning lefties, in response to which Tony Blair introduced a “public benefit” clause and scrapped the ban on political campaigning which had been confirmed by Attlee.
    You may be surprised to find that Amnesty International is a charity if you really believe that the 2006 Act did not change the law.

  40. Social Justice Warrior

    Various charities wanted the law to be relaxed, which is what your links show. But it hasn’t happened – they still do.

    You still haven’t managed to come up with a single line in the not very complicated 2006 Act which supports your false contention. Nor even a commentary on charities law. You just repeat your own wrong claims. There are links below demonstrating that every one of your substantive contentions is false.

    …scrapped the ban on political campaigning…
    There was no such ban. Here‘s a 1998 commentary on the law, which explains the position: “[Charities] can contribute to public discussion, as long as it is on a basis which reflects their experience and it is in line with their objects. Charities may undertake certain activities of a political nature as a means of achieving their charitable purposes…”

    Tony Blair introduced a “public benefit” clause
    No he didn’t: see the 1998 commentary.

    You may be surprised to find that Amnesty International is a charity if you really believe that the 2006 Act did not change the law.
    I’d be very surprised, because it isn’t. There’s an ‘Amnesty International UK Charitable Trust’ which raises money for Amnesty’s non-political work. It was incorporated in 1995 and registered as a charity in 1996 – nothing to do with the 2006 Act.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *