February 2024
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Don’t get fooled into being put on the charities’ Christmas “suckers list”

weekend blog

It’s the time of the year to be charitable

As Christmas approaches, it’s the ‘giving’ time of year when we get bombarded with TV ads for some of Britain’s more than 200,000 registered charities. Hopefully, you’ll have noticed that many charity TV ads ask you to text a word like ‘care’ or ‘heart’ or ‘child’ or whatever to give just £2 or £3 or £5 a month. And I guess many people do pick up their phones to make these small donations.

We’re told that this £2 or £3 or £5 a month can provide lifesaving medicine for a child or provide food for a week or whatever. Some of these ads may be genuine in that the charity will be satisfied with your small monthly donation and will not harass you for more money. But in many cases this £2 or £3 or £5 a month will hardly pay for the charity’s expensively-produced TV ad. The real aim of the £2 or £3 or £5 texted donations is NOT to raise money. It’s to harvest donors’ phone numbers to add to the charities’ “suckers list”. These phone numbers will then be passed on to a telephone fundraising agency who will call up the texter.

The telefundraiser staff will have a sales script which is designed to get the texter to set up a bank direct debit to the charity. The telefundraiser will use the fact that a person is already donating £2 or £3 or whatever a month from their phone and is therefore interested in supporting the charity’s work. As one recruitment ad for telefundraisers explained: “The role involves calling individuals, who have already expressed an interest in the campaign you are working on, and securing additional funds in a warm, friendly and persuasive manner”.

Fundraising fun

Some telefundraisers may actually work for the charity they claim to represent. But often they will work for profit-making telefundraising companies. Charities pay somewhere between £80 to £120 to the telefundraising companies for each direct debit recruited. So, depending on how much you agree to give through the direct debit, little to none of your first year’s donations will ever get anywhere near the charity you have chosen to donate to.

Setting up a telefundraising company can be quite a profitable business. One company, set up by two former in-house charity fundraisers made gross profits of £10.1m on a turnover of £26.2m and paid its founders £2.5m in dividends over a period of seven years in addition to their generous annual salaries.

Just one telefundraising company made over 1,250,000 calls a year to potential donors. That’s an almost incredible 24,000 calls a week. In all, it has been estimated that these telefundraisers make more than 10 million such calls a year.

Losing my charity virginity

Until a few years ago, I knew nothing about Britain’s massive charity industry. In fact, I even made regular donations to several charities. But I noticed how my elderly, dementia-affected mother was being harassed by charities and so did a little research. This resulted in my book THE GREAT CHARITY SCANDAL in which I question why Britain needs over 200,000 registered charities and in which I show that only around half the money we donate ever gets used for real charitable work. I even found one supposed ‘charity’ which in one year paid consultancy companies owned by the charity’s three founders around £90,000 each while using just over £130,000 for charitable activities. There are many small charities like that which could appear to be just get-rich-quick schemes for their lucky founders.

As for our larger charities, many claim that around £9 out of every £10 donated goes to charitable activities. But when you actually do the boring work of looking at their financial accounts, you find that they include all kinds of stuff like administration and fundraising and rent for their offices and running membership schemes so on as ‘charitable activities’. So the amounts which really go to charitable activities is often only a fraction of what the charity claims.

In my previous blog, I mentioned a homelessness charity whose TV ads strongly suggest to me that the homelessness charity provides accommodation for the homeless. But actually, only £6.1m of the £64M raised by this charity last year was spent on ‘housing’. A much larger amount – £19.9m – was spent on raising funds. The remaining £38m, I’m sure, was used on other no doubt useful and relevant stuff.

Britain’s massive charity industry has, I believe, become an out-of-control, self-serving, money-grabbing, greedy monster. So please be careful who you give your money to. You may need it a lot more than the more than one million often well-paid employees of Britain’s supposed ‘voluntary sector’.

3 comments to Don’t get fooled into being put on the charities’ Christmas “suckers list”

  • A Thorpe

    It isn’t only the small amounts. This year I have noticed a number of radio adverts for donating larger amounts adding in a few pence, one I think adds 4 pence. I suppose the idea is that small amounts matter so people will give the larger amount. Then there are the celebrities used in the adverts.

    It is the street collectors that I find most annoying because of their aggressive attitude. There is no point in being polite and stopping to say you are not giving anything. You just get drawn into a conversation and have to do what you should have done at the start – walk away.

    There is a point I forgot to raise with the previous article and that is the government gives our taxes to charities for services. It should be our choice to give to charities, not the government to give on our behalf.

    The Victorians were apparently supporters of charities. It would be interesting to know how funding operated in those days. The hospitals were run by charities until the government stole them to create the NHS.

  • Ed P

    Many of these self-serving organisations are majority-funded by the government (i.e., by us, the taxpayers).

    Can we alter this abuse of our taxes? We have no say in where our taxes are wasted and both sides of the Uniparty continue handing out dosh without restraint.

    I hope Reform and the SDP will publish a strong statement about stopping this abuse/waste in their manifestos.

  • Alex Ruiz

    Brilliant article, shocking numbers, what a bloody joke.

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