Letter to the Editor: Why Charities should join the war on waste – response


Magazine article

There is so much to agree with in this article, but unfortunately the case is built on fantasy logic rather than the reality of how things really work between the sector and government.

It is true that the charity sector truly understands the issues in civic society and, if funded properly, would be able to address these issues in a cost effective and human way. The government does sometimes listen to the view of the sector; indeed the last government listened and consulted extensively. Rarely did money follow the intellectual exercise. Compare that to the way government listens to the business sector; the way business is put on a pedestal, always available to solve the problems of both health and society.

One of my biggest and enduring lessons learnt is that the real influence in society and in government is money. The ability to make money is seen as both the power and as ingenuity. When did a Prime Minister last herald a new initiative or the future resolution of a problem in civic society under the leadership of a top charity CEO? That is not to say that there are not some brilliant and wise business leaders, but there are just as many, if not more in the voluntary sector.

The government sometimes tries to listen, but by the time they have gone through their support priorities, namely the banks, defence, the education system and the NHS, there is little room for this incredible and creative sector. There is no malicious intent: it is simply that the time and money go elsewhere.

The Secret Philanthropist mentions the Peterborough Social Investment Bond (SIB) project, an outstanding idea that I feel will work. But when you look at the quantum of the spending on this project, it is too small to bring about the change fast enough. And Big Society? A great term for something that has gone on for centuries. I think promoting the concept is great. How much money is behind it? What is Nick Hurd’s budget? We have a minister who probably understands a great deal about the positive impact of the sector in social and financial terms, but I have not seen budgets to really fuel the much needed change.

I would love the Secret Philanthropist’s money to be used to change government thinking. I would suggest engaging his or her money with other like-minded and wealthy people to explain the real impact the sector could have, that would make our society stronger, healthier and happier; that would probably reduce both the social and financial cost for the tax payer. I have some great campaigning stories that I am happy to share!

The Big concepts and structural change are important to consider but so is each and every human life; that is the starting point for good philanthropy. Money is the power; use it with passion to drive the change you talk of.