Letter: Charities: the"contract culture",ethics and raising funds

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From Mr Trevor Cox

Sir: Polly Toynbee asks whether there is any difference between a charity, a private company and a state-run service. The difference is crucial.

A charity respects people and treats them as ends in themselves, not merely as instruments to be used for some ulterior purpose: that is the meaning of charity. A charity relieves needs not just wants. It rightly makes judgments about what is and what is not worthwhile.

A charity believes in self-help. Not all seeking assistance are equally deserving, and trustees have a duty to discriminate justly. A charity fosters a sense of community which arises from the mutual trust which necessarily exists between giver and receiver.

Ethics are everything to a charity. Matters of finance, organisation and expediency must always take second place to its main purpose.

Yours sincerely,



17 May

The writer is a charity worker.