The last few years have not been easy for the charity sector in the UK. It’s not that long ago that there was a scandal over the enormous salaries that were paid to some charity CEOs and now we have a scandal about the obnoxious fund raising strategies that a few charities have adopted.
At this point, it is worth remembering that as far as the law goes, most Christian organisations in the UK – churches and mission agencies – are charities. They collect money from donors (often reclaiming the tax paid on the donations) and use that money to perform services which do some public good. OK, this is a bit of a simplification, but not much.
It also means that churches and mission agencies need to be aware both of the scandals that have engulfed the charity sector and of the steps that are taken to address them.
When it comes to excessive pay levels for their executives, most Christian charities don’t have much to worry about. I wrote a personal reflection about this when I was CEO of Wycliffe Bible Translators.
With regard to fundraising; the National Council for Voluntary Organisations has just produced a fairly substantial review of current practices which makes some significant suggestions for future good practice. We may wrap up our fundraising in more religious terms; support, living by faith, contributing to the ministry etc, but this doesn’t mean that Christian charities can afford to ignore best practice and government regulation. If you are involved in church or mission leadership, especially if you are a trustee, then you should download this report and read it. If finance isn’t really your thing and you find yourself getting a bit lost, then you need to make sure that someone else on your team who is competent in this area is getting to grips with it.
We don’t live in an easy environment for charities today. In addition, religious organisations are hardly the flavour of the month. It is important that Christian charities are seen to be responsible in the way they raise funds and above reproach in the way that they use them. We cannot afford to pretend that regulation is someone else’s problem.
Please either share this post around, or point people to the NCVO document.