Friday, 18 October 2013

So what is a charity?

We've been used to the debate about defining a 'charity' mostly through discussion of the beneficiaries - should Eton have charitable status? Or the Royal Opera House for that matter?

However there's a different debate - sometimes it might be called the 'sockpuppet' debate - where the organisation with charitable status is, essentially, a delivery agent for the government.

Here's a good example:

The accounts show that St Andrew’s increased its income from £168.7m in 2011/12 to £178m last year. Expenditure rose from £156.2m to £161.2m and the charity increased its funds carried forward from £175.4m in 2011/12 to £192.6m last year.

The charity received donations totalling £22,000 in 2012/13, down from £30,000 in the previous year.

Note that last line. This multi-million pound 'charity' raised just £22,000 in what I would call voluntary income. And the rest?

The charity, which employs about 3,100 people and receives the majority of its income from the NHS...

And, as a result, this organisation:

... has 57 employees on salaries of more than £100,000 a year

Including a chief executive paid £653,000.

It seems to me that this is a large and successful business paying its senior people very well and I'm sure providing fantastic care for its mentally ill clients. But is this what we mean by charity?


1 comment:

MIke Chitty said...

There are just businesses Simon. Some of them are, on balance, good business making stuff better. Some are bad businesses making stuff worse. Most are somewhere in between. And it can be really hard to tell the difference!