Charities 'must catch up with modern world'

The internet holds the key to increasing private donations to offset council spending cuts, voluntary organisations are told

Charities are being pushed to the brink by a lethal mix of council spending cuts, a decline in corporate support and a reluctance from the public to donate when their own incomes are falling.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) claims that local authorities are protecting their own staff and making cuts to voluntary organisations too hastily and without proper consultation. A website launched to track the impact of public sector spending restraint has logged £40m of cuts to 186 organisations in two weeks.

Lawyers representing 200 organisations in London have won a judicial review into council plans to cut £10m from their total £24m combined budgets on the grounds that the consultation process was flawed. The money from businesses and individuals that might plug the gap is also likely to fall over the next year.

Against this backdrop, Steve Moore, the head of the Big Society Network, warned charities yesterday that they had to up their game. Too many charities gave "bad feedback" to supporters, he said, and some even failed to say thank you.

"Local authorities are making cuts and they are really painful for these organisations," he said. "We need more people giving to charities, we need more rich people giving to charities, but charities need to improve their offer. Giving things to charity is not a particularly delightful experience. You don't get a very informed donor relationship. The problems that some charities face is that they haven't really caught up with the modern world."

Facebook and Twitter had made giving to charity something to share, not to be done anonymously. "Charities have to be brilliant on the internet. Part of the experience is people can see that you are giving. You give because other friends of yours have given."

A survey of private donations by the NCVO and the Charities Aid Foundation revealed that while the amount donated by individuals in 2009 rose slightly to £10.6bn, it remains well below pre-recession highs, and as public sector cuts lead to more job losses it is feared the generosity of the British public will slump.

Big business is also reassessing its giving culture, donating goods and staff time instead of cash. The top 20 corporate donors gave a mere £1.7bn to charity in 2009, just 2.8 per cent of their £60bn pre tax profits. Figures released so far for 2010 show that the this proportion has fallen still further.

Charities providing frontline services funded by councils caution that if they disappear it will create wider social problems. The Ivy Project, for example, which trains vulnerable unemployed teenagers in Devon and Cornwall has lost its £23,000 grant; and Hertfordshire Society for the Blind will lose its £7,500 grant for a home visiting service.

Nicola Carruthers, the chief executive of Thrive, which offers garden therapy for people with disabilities, said: "Care is only going to be for the high end, those who are very severely disabled. A lot of people with moderate disabilities will be sitting at home doing not very much and that is another time bomb. It's a false economy for the sake of a tiny investment.

"The British public are very generous and will continue to support their favourite charities, but others will suffer. It is a double whammy."

Stewart Mabere, 67, said his wife Denise, 61, has suffered from severe dementia for five years and spent one day a week at Thrive's gardens near Reading, until funding for the visit was cut by social services last week. "I have to do everything for her," he said. "She can't feed herself. Plus I have to look after the house and my 97-year-old mother. I don't have any life of my own. When she went to the gardens with a carer for six hours it was the only time I had on my own to go shopping and do chores."

The Big Society Network is hosting an event later this month called Give It Up, that will bring together researchers of philanthropic behaviour, social action groups and IT experts to debate how to develop a more generous culture.

Karl Wilding, NCVO's head of research, agreed that "social media can help us build a more engaged experience with our supporters", but he added that alone wasn't enough. "Charities still have to be integrated with offline relationships," he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor