Letters: Lottery effect on income of charities

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From Mr Stuart Etherington

Sir: Polly Toynbee in her article ("Roundheads who would steal our dreams", 19 July) about the National Library suggests that the National Council for Voluntary Organisations has an "instinctive distaste" for the lottery. This is a major misunderstanding of NCVO's position and role.

NCVO represents over a 650 national charities and has never taken a view as to the merits of the lottery as a whole. Whether the lottery in principle is a good or a bad thing is for others to determine. However, NCVO, in its role as representative body for charities, has sought to look at whether the lottery would have an effect on charities and their income.

Our recent research was carried out by the independent research organisation NOP. It shows that because of confusion over the amount going to charity, the number of people donating to charity has dropped by some 14 per cent.

If the amount of money available to the National Lottery Charities Board is taken into account, then charities as a whole stand to lose some pounds 41m in the first year of the lottery. The problem for charities is that, unlike many organisations applying to the other lottery boards, the money available via the Charities Board is not necessarily "new" money, when other fundraising methods are being affected.

Our members, who cover the wide range of charities from disability and medical research to animal welfare, are not a group of vested interests; instead, they are altruistic non-profit organisations dedicated to improving social provision. It would have been wrong for NCVO not to have heeded their concerns and sought to improve the situation.

Yours sincerely,

Stuart Etherington

Chief Executive

National Council for Voluntary Organisations

London, N1

19 July