If charities are going to survive in the 21st century, they can't rely on government alone

Only genuinely voluntary donations provide charities with funding that is sustainable over the long term. In times of austerity, charities find out the hard way

Share
Related Topics

The definition of philanthropy is the love of one human being for another, which was for me the raison d’être for founding the charity SANE – to understand more about mental illness, provide help to those in need, and campaign for improved treatments and care. I soon realised that this was not an easy mission to sustain.

Charity can be as competitive as the commercial sector and as cut-throat in the fight for funds. The proliferation of charities – there are around 160,000 – and the rate at which they have scaled up into multinational operations means the original vision can become distorted or lost.

As the Lib Dem minister Lynne Featherstone tells independent.co.uk that charities should no longer depend on government for hand-outs, how does a charity raise enough funds to operate professionally and retain its integrity? And who should pay? Moreover, does the style and manner in which those funds are obtained matter?

At SANE, we believe it does. There is the temptation, for example, to outsource the acquisition of supporters through employing “chuggers” – which we have resisted. The difficulty is that the more commercialised the approach, the greater the distance between the donor and the recipients, compromising the bond of trust.

There is also the route of relying on government funding, where charities can become laced in a corset of contracts and obligations which not only may reduce their freedom to speak out but put them at risk of over-dependence in an economic downturn.

SANE decided to be a “David” rather than a “Goliath” charity and not depend on statutory funds but primarily to seek donations from charitable trusts, companies and individuals. Not a path for the faint-hearted, but it keeps a charity closer to its roots and, most important, its benefactors. For us, times have always been tough, especially as mental illness is an uncomfortable cause, and the latest findings from the Charities Aid Foundation – one in six charities fear they may close next year – are no surprise.

The trouble is that while society is dependent on the services charities provide, we do not have the same tradition of major donor-giving as in the US, and recent reports show that the sums and numbers of donations are falling. This is a crying shame at a time when cuts in frontline services are leaving more and more people bereft and adrift.

We believe it is no longer realistic to expect charities to fulfil all the roles of government agencies or global corporations, acting as a panacea for the world’s ills. We need to rediscover our creative edge, use the technologies available from social media to digital outreach, and learn to live on genuinely voluntary donations.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: When is a baroness not a baroness? Titles still cause confusion

Guy Keleny
 

CPAC 2015: What I learnt from the US — and what the US could learn from Ukip

Nigel Farage
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower