Here’s a riddle for you.
When is a charity not a charity?
When it’s primarily a government (or privately) funded lobbying organisation.
This is not a joke.
As one whose real life CV contains a good deal of volunteering for various (UK and Canadian) registered charities, I’d like to think I know the difference. My charity work has always been focused on the practical; restoring, cleaning, delivering, fitting and rebuilding kind of work. From rebuilding computer networks, helping restore a near derelict local facility to full use to scrubbing some horrendous gunge off various aids for the disabled. That sort of thing.
Over the past few years I’ve noticed an increased politicisation of the voluntary sector. Where lobbyists, disguising themselves as registered charities, do pure advocacy work for various clients, including Government agencies. Where I have no issue with citizen advocates speaking up for the less able and impoverished, what I do have an issue with is Government paying ‘charities’ to further the Governments (and their friends) own agenda.
Let’s take a classic example. Remember the Climate change kiddie snuff porn video by advocacy group 10:10? When I wrote to my UK MP to object, I was told plainly that the UK government would ‘continue to support’ such messages. 10:10 had purportedly received sponsorship from EU and UK sources to produce that obscenity (As well as Sony and O2). Now, forgive me for being as bit dogmatic here, but is that charity? Does it assist the poor or less able? No. It does help the vested financial interests who make their moolah by boosting energy prices and farming taxpayer funded subsidies. Most certainly not the poor buggers who are currently in ‘fuel poverty’.
This stuff isn’t new. It’s been doing the rounds on the UK blogosphere for several years now. See Tim Worstall’s 2009 piece on the Adam Smith Institute website. Now the mainstream are playing catch up.
Of course there have always been scam artists who pose as registered charities or who put out collection boxes for said charity with no intention of passing on the public’s generosity to the real organisation. What really pisses me off, as a real life worker for charity, is the biggest fraud of all; Governments paying advocacy groups to lobby for Government policy using taxpayer dollar.