Tuesday, 24 April 2007

UK Charity Awards 2007

Time for my annual gripe and whinge. At the end of last year, Charity Times started promoting the Annual UK Charity Awards for 2007. Superficially it might be a good idea, though how you compare the RSPB with a children's hospice I have no idea. But I abhor the very concept of reducing Charity work to this level. Hopefully a few of us do it because we believe in the cause, and not simply to get an award at some Hollywood-style ceremony. But worse is to come, because to attend these awards' ceremonies, a place at the table is £141.35 a head (for charity workers), or £1175 + VAT for a table of 10.

Is this really what supporters of a charity expect their money to be spent on? Is this really how they expect staff and Trustees to be spending their time?

And of course only a few charities can afford the time and money to actually enter into a competition to become 'Charity of the Year' or be nominated the 'Trustee Board of the Year'. And not everyone has the ego that needs to be the 'Finance Director of the Year'. Clearly awards like these are going to be influenced by money and size -- particularly when there is an award for the 'Best Charity to Work for' and it's decided by internet voting.

The problem is that some members of the public will assume that these awards have real meaning, and that will mean that a charity which has spent an undisclosed amount of time and effort winning an award, is presumed better than one that has not done so. If the awards were chosen by an independent group of assessors, reviewing all charities against published criteria, there might be some value, but as they stand I believe them to do more harm than good.

Interestingly there does not appear to be an award for the charity that has 'done most to achieve its charitable objectives, for the least amount of money'.......


  1. I can't speak for the UK Charity Awards with which I have no connection whatsoever, but I have organised the Charity Awards every year since 2000 so have a good deal of experience in this kind of programme. The approach we take is to invite charities to submit details of projects and to then review these against ten hallmarks of excellence designed to identify great management and leadership. The intention is to recognise excellence and to capture and disseminate that learning to the rest of the sector. This kind of recognition is enormously successful at building morale, encourages more rigorous planning and execution in the conduct of projects and brings to the attention of many the remarkable work of charities working often in desperate isolation throughout the UK. Many of those recognised have found that fundraising becomes much easier as a result and that they suddenly become listened to for the first time by policy makers in their fields of work. We invite two representatives of every shortlisted charity to attend the awards ceremony as our guests so there is no need for them to buy tickets. Virtually all of the 1,000 seats at the presentation dinner (on 21 June this year)are paid for by corporate supportes who then invite charity guests to fill their tables.
    These awards are supported by CAF (the Charities Aid Foundation) and The Times newspaper and are chosen by an independent group of assessors, all very senior figures from the sector, who review the work of charities against published criteria. And, yes, there is a specific award for outstanding effectiveness. In fact, no award is made without significant evidence of achievements against objectives. We are not measuring management for management's sake, but believe that good management must lead to better outcomes. I agree with the author that badly thought through programmes can do more harm than good, but would encourage everyone to support genuine attempts to recognise and publicise the inspiring and innovative work of many charities that would otherwise go unsung. To find out more about the Charity Awards 2007, visit www.charityawards.co.uk.
    Daniel Phelan
    The Charity Awards 2007

  2. I've mentioned your "annual gripe" over on CharityBlog (www.charityblog.org.uk). One reader at least has found their way over here as a result!

    Perhaps having been a customer of some businesses voted 'most admired company' by Management Today readers makes me rather sceptical about awards in general and the type of organisation that wants this recognition.

    John Howes, VolResource

  3. I can understand if you think that what im about to say is really weird! Right i'm doing my homework and we have to find out all the Local Green Issues and i have no idea which website to go on can you help me? please. sophie