According to fakecharities.org, the British charitable sector consists of a number of “so-called charities” which it defines as “a foundation or institution that receives funding from the government, does not pay tax to the government and seeks to change government policy”.
The website claims that “these organisations thrive on theft” because “there is nothing charitable about tax being taken, by force, from you and me: charity is about voluntary giving.”
Is your charity one of them?
The site’s editor is political blogger The Devil’s Kitchen.
The site has built up a database of “fake charities” so that “people can find out the extent to which they are being forced to fund these charities”. The site encourages readers to submit more examples and provide more information about each listed charity.
The site argues: “We believe that if the work that these charities do is so vital, they could persuade people voluntarily to fund their work”.
It contrasts these “fake charities” with “real charities — those that do valuable community work”.
There therefore seems to be a presumption that charities should reject any funding offered by government, and that government should not contract out and therefore fund charities, even if the charities provided the most efficient and competitive service.
I wonder if the site’s editor dislikes the tax benefits given to charities by government? Perhaps it will soon be taking on Gift Aid, payroll giving, and zero-rate VAT on charities’ advertising, as yet more examples of tax-payers’ money being diverted against their will to charities?
You could be forgiven for thinking that the site was the only resource available to help people find out how charities are funded. “We think you have the right to know whether that charity is funded by the government”, the site’s editor argues.
There seems to be no mention of SORP (Statement of Recommended Practice on accounting), nor of the other financial information websites that cover charities such as Guidestar, the Charity Commission, Caritas Data, and Intelligent Giving. Of course the charities themselves, regulated by the Charity Commission in England and Wales, also publish their annual accounts online.
Fakecharities has a compelling title, but it is misleading. Either a charity is a registered charity or it isn’t. If you believe it is fake, present your concerns to the regulator of charities. We have recent legislation in the form of the Charities Act 2006 which can be used to protect public confidence in charities, their work, and what they are constituted to undertake.
Furthermore accusing charities of theft is a serious matter: perhaps fakecharities.org will help secure a prosecution to back up its claims.
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