Letter: Diana's Fund

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Sir: The tragic death of Diana, Princess of Wales, has led to a ground swell of public support for charities. But will it generate a new public mood towards the giving of time and money to charities and to those they serve in the long term?

Princess Diana's favourite charities will undoubtedly attract more money in support of their work - and rightly so. But what will her legacy be more generally on people's willingness to give? Will it differ between the old and the young? Between some of us and others?

The Memorial Fund, so quickly established in the Princess's name, was able to take appeals first on the Internet and only subsequently through banks and for a long time without the tax gearing. Spontaneity is seldom efficient and despite the fund's best efforts, the early days as seen from the inside were somewhat chaotic.

Should the Charity Commission not again review the lessons and procedures of crisis appeals as it did after the Penlee lifeboat disaster? And as they become increasingly international, how do you set up an efficient global appeal in 24 hours?

More generally, what will be done with the several hundred millions raised in Diana's name? Many good ideas are being generated and the fund's trustees and Gordon Brown are encouraging more. My own idea, like those of others, concerns the "excluded" - her "constituency", in Earl Spencer's memorable words. Each town or county might have a "People's Trust".

Those, like Princess Diana, wishing to enlarge and deepen their lives by helping the poor and the excluded in their own areas, could give or become involved through their local People's Trust.


Chief Executive

Charities Aid Foundation

West Malling, Kent