Wednesday, 26 September 2007

Splitting charities

A recent article in Third Sector reflected much of my thinking on charities, when Nick Seddon questioned the fact that the Royal Opera House should be a charity. Apparently, like me, he likes opera. But also like me, doesn't think it should be a charity, when it is paying its CEO over £250,000 a year, and performers, pro rata get even more.

It is high time that charities were sectored. First and foremost, a sector for straightforward non-profit organisations could be created. The Royal Opera House could be one. So could various zoos, museums and similar organisation. It would sort out confusion. At present some zoos are charities, while others are not. How does the public distinguish them?

Next stage is create a hospital and health care sector. These have virtually nothing in common with a lot of other charities -- particularly those like the World Land Trust, WWF, RSPB. Health Trusts are partly (largely?) funded by government agencies, whereas most environmental charities rely on voluntary public support.

In fact, why not define a "Voluntary charitable organisation" as an organisation which has over 75% of its income comprising voluntary public donations, including corporate donations?

An organisation dependent on other foundations, and government agencies should be classified as a "Charitable Organisation", and the rest as simply Non-Profit Organisations.

Guidelines could be put in place which would set ceilings on the proportion of funds that should be spent on fundraising, admin etc.
It would certainly help the public decide which are genuinely charitable, and dependent on public support.

Just an idea.

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