Charity Is Necessary

A SERIOUS debate about charity is welcome and timely. ernten Too often charity is used as a label more for its good or bad resonances than for the substance which makes charity distinctive and special.  For many, charity is precious; for some outdated. The concept is multi-faceted, risking ambiguity and unclarity. It covers many fields of activity, many types of organisation. The real test January is whether they serve the public interest. Every year we register 4,000 new charities at the commission.

It may not matter that there is no clear and simple definition of charity wholesale jerseys – provided it flourishes to the benefit of the community. That charity is enormously important to our society is evident from its scale. The income attributable to the 170,0 00 or so charities on the Charity Commission’s Register is pounds 11 billion a year. The estimate for the sector as a whole is pounds 17 billion, derived from donations, grants, endowments and earnings.

This is substantial in sheer economic terms. The services which charities provide, the enrichment they bring to society, is even more important than its value measured in financial terms. Needs are met, issues tackled, innovative attempts to deal with new problems tried across a whole range of issues afflicting modern society, from health and crime to the environment.  More important yet, charity provides a vehicle for private citizens to contribute, through giving time or money, to the wider well-being of society. This is citizenship in its richest sense.

Charity is as relevant today as ever. It has ancient origins. There is an unbroken common law development from the Elizabethan Statute of 1601. The essence of that tradition is public benefit and altruism. The conventional definition of char ity now derives from Victorian philanthropy: the relief of poverty, the advancement of religion, the advancement of education and other purposes beneficial to society.

This framework remains broad enough to embrace what cheap mlb jerseys is important today. It enables the Charity Commission, answerable to the courts, to develop the scope of charity to meet the changing needs of the modern world. The hospice movement is a good example of the renewal of an old tradition. So is the new charity, Public Concern at Work, to promote business ethics. The Charity Commission’s decision that gun clubs do not meet the requirements of charitable status in the modern world is a further example.

The charitable sector overlaps within the voluntary sector. The importance of charitable status is the benefit it brings to charities. Tangibly it carries tax relief; intangibly the claim to charitable status is the basis for fund raising. Charities cannot, however, be complacent about the public’s faith in charity and its effectiveness. Abuse periodically tarnishes the reputation of charity. The Charity Commission’s investigation shows that though there is abuse – and we must be vigilant in uncovering it, and better still at improving standards to minimise it – inefficiency is a greater problem. Many problems uncovered in our investigations stem from failures of administration. It is no good having impeccable charitable objects if goodwill is not translated into effective action. The largest charities are, in effect, businesses in their own right. They need to be run on a business-like basis. Charity and profit are perfectly compatible. What is distinctive about charity is that it is non-profit distributing – the income earned from trading is earned for charity. The need for a business-like approach to the use of volunteers is increasingly recognised.

Accountability and openness are proper and necessary if charities are to earn the confidence of the giving public and enable the public to decide properly what charities they want to support. New laws have created a new framework in which the public can have confidence. Registered charities will have to make a return to the Charity Commission to ensure public accountability. Small charities – the great majority on the Charity Commission’s Register cheap jerseys – need a lighter regulation. The aim of the Deregulation Task Force has been to secure this.

A distinctive feature of charities is the fact that those responsible are trustees with no personal financial stake in the charity. This principle of altruism is fundamental and reflects the essential public spiritedness of charity.

As so many sectors compete for the time of public spirited people, charity must ensure that the responsibilities of trustees do not put off the wide range of people needed. All but the smallest charities have paid staff. An important issue for charities is to establish the right relationship between the trustees bearing ultimate responsibility and the staff responsible for wholesale nba jerseys day-to-day administration. Again, the Charity Commission is co -operating with initiatives in the sector to develop better arrangements.

The relationship between charities and state provision and the political process is vital. What services the State provides – and what services it procures through buying provision, whether from the private or charitable sectors – is essentially a matter of policy, not charity law.

That charity has much to offer in areas in which the State is engaged is illustrated by the provision of charities in such disparate fields as medical research and the care of the disabled, youth provision, and innovative responses to crime. Issues of how charities can best contract with government are important, but not novel. Nor is the issue of charities and the political process.

The courts have long laid down that charities canot be political bodies. But the it is clear that charities can – and arguably should – contribute to informed public debate, including political discussion and campaigning, on issues within their own experience which are relevant to fulfilling their cheap jerseys charitable aims. The guidelines which the Charity Commission recently issued for comment set out these principles.

There are limits to which the commission can develop charity law. We no longer have the benefit of frequent court judgment – perhaps the success of our own efforts in serving as a substitute for litigation. It may be the time is coming when a considered assessment of the role and organisation of charity would be valuable. What is sure is that informed public discussion is the best way to ensure that we have a vibrant and healthy charitable sector.