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We must have integrity in charities

We must have integrity in charities

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Many charities do good work, helping people who need support and assistance. For example, an educational charity will aim to provide education and assist those who cannot afford fees where payment is required. Many charities take great pride in assisting those who feel the most challenged in society. In many ways, charities are fascinating organisations; they have the ability to attract people from all walks of life and unite them behind a noble cause, motivated by the desire to help others get on in life.

Sadly, not all charities have wholesome intentions. Earlier this year, Oxfam offered its “humblest apologies” to the Haitian government following allegations that senior aid workers, including the then-country director Roland van Hauwermeiren, were paying for sex whilst they were supposed to be delivering aid following the earthquake in 2010. It is also believed that sex was taking place in a villa paid for by the charity as well as other forms of bullying and intimidation by aid workers. Thousands of people cancelled their donations to the charity, whilst International Development Secretary Penny Mordaunt criticised their "horrific" behaviour; such behaviour can only be stamped out if we call for integrity in charities. 

The abuse that presently exists at the heart of the charity system is clear for everyone to see and must be discouraged. It was revealed that for the year 2016/17, Oxfam boss Mark Goldring was paid £127,753 as well as expenses of £12,006 and pension contributions amounting to £12,818. It is worth remembering the simple but crucial fact that approximately 50% of their funding derives from institutions such as the government and the EU. In other words, the taxpayer continues to line the pockets of those who claim to help those need it most whilst completely ignoring gross misconduct. Is this what those honest, noble volunteers, who are tirelessly out on the streets trying to collect funds, are striving for?  And those well-meaning people who leave money in their wills to charities, did they realise that so much of their legacy goes into the pockets of the charities' top CEO's?  The salaries of top charity CEOs are so exorbitant that it is an absolute disgrace that verges on being a fraud upon the public.

This is not the first time charities have been misbehaving. Remember Pastor Douglas Goodman, of the Victory Christian Centre (VCC)? He had been praised in helping to transform the VCC into one of the most powerful black churches in Europe. In doing so, the pastors’ pockets were becoming increasingly deep as he eventually acquired a home worth over a million pounds as well as a fleet of cars, one of which was a Ferrari. Such abuse must be stopped and the only way to eradicate this issue is to encourage charities to run on the same basis as the lower clergy and nurses. It should be a vocation rather than a career choice. With the UK population on the verge of reaching 70 million, it is absurd to believe that we can only find suitable people to run a charity by paying extortionate salaries.

Taking the aforementioned examples into account, it appears to my great dismay that charities have become a lucrative source of income which is why so many seem to spring up on a daily basis. Fuelled by self-interest and gimmicks, charities nowadays seem to be defined as anything but charitable. The charity adverts of the endangered Snow Leopard ask us to donate to a worthy cause, yet we "receive a cuddly toy" in return and here no more on progress made with the funds that we have provided them. Red pieces of round plastic balls are produced to stick on your nose in order to induce people to give on Red Nose Day. It simply looks as if thousands of non-productive jobs are created by charities solely for the sake of making money for the organisers.

Therefore we have to ask “What can we do, as members of public, to ensure that charities behave the way that they should?” Perhaps it would be a wise idea to suggest a cap on the amount of money payable to all charity workers, including CEOs to the minimum wage.  Charity work should find its motivation from the heart, not from the pocket. We should also seek clear accountability and ask what percentage of money raised actually goes to the charity target. Calls for limiting the amount of money that could be spent on administering the charity to a fixed percentage of the total amount of money raised are also rational. Personally, I would like to see all charities state on every collection box where the contributions actually go. 

Should the proposed reformation be carried out, the UK will be setting an example in how to take a principled stance on charity abuse and lead the way in restoring the charity system to its proper footing. Ultimately, it is only right that one of the most humanitarian nations in the world should help to carve a future in which the values of honesty and integrity are firmly instilled in all charities.


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