Charities – 2

I do not know if it is just me, but the websites of charities and other non-governmental organisations (NGO). are very confusing to navigate.

For example, the various headings on the front page of a website should be clear as to indicate where one can find information.  An illustration of this is finding the full name, address and telephone of a given organisation, along with details of the key members of the leadership team (with photographs) showing their qualifications and experience relevant to the position, information is often missing or difficult to find.

Another matter regarding the above is having a contact number and/or e-mail address from which one can contact for enquiries.  There should a dedicated person to respond as well, as so many groups do not properly reply, only sending a general response.

It would also be good if all the publications of the charity or NGO are in one place, with them all listed together, as well as subject headings, along with date of publications, so as to indicate how up to date the the information.

There should also be transparency in a listing of all areas of operation (unless there are security issues), so it is quite clear what the organisation is doing.  This helps in making sure that one knows to what one is giving money.  Transparency includes full details of each project including aims, objectives and how they are being met, along with how far they are being achieved.  Other information should include is what money is directly being spent on the project, and how much on administration to demonstrate how efficient is the organisation.  This is all about accountability and effectiveness in using their income.

I believe such things should be monitored by the Charity Commission.

I am sure there are other ways of improving Charities and NGO’s websites.  Please share them.

Charities – 1

Charities do a great work supporting people, doing research, awareness making, campaigning, etc.  But, I wonder whether there are too many charities.

It seems, especially when it comes to medical issues, whenever someone dies from a disease, a new charity is formed, often duplicating the work of others.

I think it is about time that there is a national debate on the formation of charities and how we can make sure that the different issues and approaches are covered by fewer such bodies.  Part of the reason I have suggested such a debate is the administrative cost of each charity, money that could better go to fulfilling  their basic aims, if there was less of it.  For example, Human Resources and Charity Commission compliance could be done by a body covering a specific type of charity – would that be cost-effective and efficient?  Should similar charities merge, like two charities working with the elderly did the other year?  On the other hand, how big should charities be, before they become too de-personalised?

We also need to look at what staff are paid in some charities, especially senior executives in the large ones.  Should there be a cap, set by the Charity Commission, for example?  Surely, whilst paid staff should be paid a sensible salary, why are they there in the first place – are they passionate about the aims of the organisation? What about a cap on ‘administrative expenses’?  I am sure that there are other issues that need to be tackled so that charities are not too focused that certain issues or approaches are side-lined as well as making sure that the money given to them is wisely spent.

I also wonder if we need to look at the ethics of what some charities are promoting, especially with regard to medical ones.  It should be made clear, for example, how they do their research.  Do they use animals for testing ideas; do they use embryonic cells, etc.  This should be made clearer in their literature and on websites, so people can make informed decisions as to whether they want to support a given charity.  The same principle should apply to other charities, to improve transparency as I am sure some people would not want to support those who carry out such things.

In a time when there is austerity and a greater call on charities, we must find better ways of making use of the resources that exist to greater effect.

Do join the debate!