The twelve Philanthropists of 2012

Christmas is a time for giving. Cause4 thought it a ripe and fitting time to celebrate 12 of the greatest philanthropists of 2012. These fine givers should inspire us all when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions in the coming days:

1. Joe Hart – world-renowned footballer Joe Hart gave valuable time to give a young supporter fighting cancer, a wonderful football experience.

2. David Hockney – this acclaimed artist donated artwork worth £76.5 million to The David Hockney Foundation.

3. Martin Lewis – founder of entrepreneurial Moneysavingexpert.com sold his stake in the company and gave a proportion direct to charity.

4. Will.i.am – pioneering Pea, Will.i.am, has proven himself to be a prolific giver on both sides of the pond. He recently made a half million pound donation to The Prince’s Trust.

5. Chris Moyles – the loudmouth former Radio 1 DJ is celebrated by Cause4 for raising in excess of £10.4 million during his tenure as host of The Breakfast Show.

Father Christmas - our Final Festive Filanthropist- Merry Christmas

6. Jose Mujica – UK politicians could do worse than follow the example of this South American statesman who gives 90% of his income and assets to charity, while he himself leads a frugal farmhouse lifestyle.

7. Lady Gaga – this meat-clad diva is providing an inspiring role model to fans across the world through the establishment of her Born this Way Foundation, that works to create a more equal and tolerant society in America and overseas.

8. John Caudwell – his charity ‘Caudwell Children’ has pledged millions to help children, both in the UK and Africa, as well as supporting a host of other wire-reaching charities.

9. Natalya Vodiamova – her beauty is not only on the outside, Vodiamova founded the Naked Heart Foundation in a bid to provide Russian children with a safe place to play.

10. Mo Farah – after inspiring a generation on the track at London 2012, Farah is now fast-tracking life-saving aid to some of the millions of people facing starvation and disease in East Africa.

11. Mark and Priscilla Zuckerberg – the Facebook founder gets a massive ‘Like’ from Cause4 for his recent philanthropic giving, as well as signing the Gates-Buffett Giving Pledge, Zuckerberg has just committed $500 million in Facebook stock to a Silicon Valley charity that supports health and education projects.

12. Father Christmas – festive philanthropist Father Christmas has perfected his giving over the last 1300 years to become the world’s most reliable giver. He is our final philanthropist of the year.

Cause4 wishes you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! We look forward to following more festive giving in 2013.

Internships: Experience or Exploitation?

I am feeling reflective (and a little sad) as my time at Cause4 as a Development Intern draws to a close. The past four months have been somewhat of a shock to my previously student body…I seemed to hit the ground running back in September when I was faced with the reality of working life, early starts and the daily commute. It has been a steep learning curve but I know that this internship has provided me with invaluable experience in the third sector and the best possible foundations from which to start building my career.

However, internships appear a source of controversy, especially within the charity sector where they are regarded as a bit of a thorny subject. Charities are entitled to employ unpaid interns because they can be counted as volunteers but many argue this to be immoral at a time when well-qualified graduates are struggling to find employment and are desperately trying to get their foot in the door. As it stands the national minimum wage (NMW) legislation does not apply if the intern counts as volunteer rather than a worker; however the classification between ‘workers’ and ‘volunteers’ is often complicated by contracts and formal arrangements. The Guardian recently reported that a poll commissioned by the National Union of Students reveals one in five 18- to 24-year-olds (20%) has undertaken an internship, compared with just 2% of people who were of the same age 30 to 40 years ago. So are charities offering young people the opportunity to gain experience or exploiting them in their desperate state?

Are interns just cheap labour?

I was fortunate enough to have family near London who could put me up and Cause4 offers a competitive intern wage which meant that the internship was possible for me. But expecting someone to work full time without pay to support themselves does not seem right and a tad ironic for the charitable sector. Morals aside, charities would be missing out on the hoards of talented young people who could not afford to work for free by only offering unpaid internships. Paying interns will open up your organisation to some top quality applications and paid interns are likely to be more motivated and willing to give you more of their time. The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development recommends that, as a minimum, reasonable travel expenses should be given and that there is a strong case for the NMW or bursaries if the internship lasts for three months or more. The DCMS’s final report on philanthropy, published last week and with the title ‘Democratising Philanthropy’ highlights the further benefits that interns can bring to an organisation. Young people can help to address the deficit in digital technology skills that the report cited many cultural organisations to be suffering from. If the skills that graduates and young people bring to an organisation are sought after then they deserve to be paid for them…after all charity starts in the home does it not?!

What is your stance on unpaid internships in the charity sector? A great opportunity or taking advantage of the current job market? Cause4 welcomes your comments below…

Gift Aid gets digital in 2013

Back in the Summer I told you about the Small Charitable Donations Bill, the Government’s planned changes to Gift Aid laws that will enable charities and community amateur sports clubs (CASCs) to claim Gift Aid on small donations up to £20 received in circumstances where it is difficult to ask the donor to fill in a Gift Aid form. The Government has now just announced further changes to Gift Aid with the development of a new online service to allow charities to submit repayment claims electronically.

Due to launch in April 2013 the new service will be called Charities Online and will be a way for charities and CASCS to claim Gift Aid, tax repayments on other income and Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme top-up payments by using an online form. This ‘one stop shop’ for charities should help remove some of the current confusion around claiming Gift Aid and make this sometimes laborious process a bit more straightforward. This in turn will help charities to claim extra income from Gift Aid, maximising donation revenues and providing vital funds.

Claiming Gift Aid will soon be another thing charities can do online. Is this a good thing?

I do worry slightly that the increasing shift to online administration works against smaller charities and those who are less adept with technology. But then we live in an increasingly digital age and there ought to be pressure on charities to embrace new technologies, such as those showcased in last week’s DCMS report. HMRC are also retaining a paper claims forms for those without access to the internet so no charity should lose out in the changes.

At Cause4 we welcome any change that makes it easier for charities to claim Gift Aid. A clear recommendation of the DCMS report on Digital Giving by Mathew Bowcock released last week was that Gift Aid should be updated to make it more compatible with digital fundraising.  Its great therefore to see HMRC taking appropriate action. We urge charities to get clued up now and work out how they can make the most of this new centralised resource come April.

What do you think? Is your charity excited at the prospect of Charities Online?

Democratising Philanthropy

DCMS today published the third and final of its Philanthropy reports. With the theme of ‘Digital Giving in the Arts’, and a title of ‘Democratising Philanthropy’, the report’s author, Matthew Bowcock sets out to examine the role technology has to play in mobilising effective individual giving in the arts, and does so, I think in a most effective manner.

Technology undoubtedly has a role to play in modern fundraising, and it is pleasing to see the report acknowledges that steps are already being taken across the sector to embrace some of the electronic devices and donation methods available, and that much of the digital philanthropy focus should be on speeding up adoption, and not necessarily just kickstarting it.

This approach did make me think rather of the very successful Art Fund app, which  lets users search for interesting exhibitions nearby, as well as providing discounts and allowing users to access unique content. However, the fundraising element of the app is far more indirect, encouraging membership of the Art Fund, and visits to the exhibitions it supports, rather than the app itself being a direct fundraising tool. It is refreshing to see smaller charities also embracing apps, with Kids Company today launching its Christmas Cracker app, offering seasonal fun in return for a suggested text donation of £5 to the charity to help fund its Christmas Day party which it hosts for 3,500 of London’s most vulnerable children.

App fundraising has huge potential

I do feel that the report could have given more consideration to smaller organisations. “Size isn’t everything, but it helps“, and it can be much easier for charity giants to develop technology than their smaller brethren. Bowcock does acknowledge that the sector is varied, and that sharing is key, but I think that further work does need to be done in addressing how smaller organisations can best harness digital opportunities.

Another recommendation made by the report is the recruitment of trustees with digital and fundraising skills. I think this is a fantastic idea, and is an area where young trustees can really bring something to the table. The Young Charity Trustees organisation currently does great work in encouraging young people to take an active role in supporting the arts through trusteeship, and I do think as digital giving grows, this is an area that we really will see flourish.

The report is well written, and I highly recommend that not only arts, but also sport, education, culture and heritage charities take the time to give it a read. The recommendations are well justified, and do much to advance an understanding of where digital fundraising is going. What’s more, our very own Michelle Wright was on the paper’s steering group! I would be most interested to hear any thoughts you have on the paper – please do get in touch through the comment box below!

Driving Dogs: Barking Mad or Brilliant PR?

Unless you’ve been living in a hole for the past few days, you’ve probably seen the recent videos of rescue dogs learning to drive in New Zealand. The idea behind the stunt, devised by Kiwi charity SPCA, is to demonstrate just how intelligent dogs can be, thereby encouraging people to adopt them into loving homes. This clip shows Porter, a ten-month-old beardie cross complete a lap of a race-track in his specially adapted canine car. There’s no doubt this is a remarkable feat and it seems to have generated a media storm, with a plethora of articles and the live-streaming of a race-track challenge. However, in the Cause4 offices at least, these videos have not been met with unanimous praise.

My first reaction to the canine driving school was one of considerable objection. I thought the eight weeks spent teaching these dogs to drive, represented a substantial waste of time, both for the dogs themselves and their trainers, and I questioned how many dogs would actually be re-homed through this initiative and who would donate to a charity that used their resources in this way.

But, after thinking about it in more depth, I started to see the brilliance of this idea. Driving dogs are undoubtedly impressive and given that I still haven’t passed my test, maybe I was just a tad bitter about having been one-upped by a dog. Moreover, through the extensive media coverage this initiative has received, the SPCA has certainly reached a far larger audience than if they had spent the same amount of time and money on a standard advertising campaign. From this perspective, it seems like a fantastic PR operation, up there with some of the best charity publicity stunts, such WWF’s Pandas in Paris, Greenpeace’s viral video of Ken dumping Barbie and UNICEF’s Afghanistan Crisis Leaf Appeal.

Could this soon be a common sight on the roads?

However, there is a clear difference between these great PR stunts and the doggie driving school. All these stunts had a significant impact as a result of an effective call to action, relating directly to their message; whether this was Greenpeace’s shaming of Mattel into dropping deforested materials from their supply chain or UNICEF’s urgent appeal for £25,000 to save 10,000 starving children from the cold Afghan winter.

While the SPCA’s campaign does have a central message, that ‘dogs this smart deserve a home’, this is missing the point somewhat. As true as it may be, it overlooks the fact people are not put off from adopting dogs because they are stupid, but rather because they are expensive, a lot of work and a long-term commitment. Indeed, while it is still early days, it seems that the initiative has not prompted the rush of adoptions SPCA was hoping for, with the charity’s website indicating that even one of the driving dogs, Ginny, is still up for adoption.

What do you think? Am I being unfair about SPCA’s canine driving school? Do fun publicity campaigns only work when they have a strong clear message that addresses the right issues?

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