I feel compelled to react to the press release issued on Friday 26 June from nfpSynergy entitled ‘2 in 3 people say rebrands and London offices are a waste of charities’ money’ . The survey also features in Third Force News in an article entitled ’10 things your charity should and shouldn’t do according to the public’.
In January 2015 nfpSynergy’s Charity Awareness Monitor surveyed 1,000 people over 16 years old throughout mainland Britain. The study reveals some interesting results.
68% of people feel London-based offices for charities are “somewhat” or “very” wasteful.
The only charities who should have an office in London are the organisations who solely operate in London. I work for a small charity in West Fife, Scotland and I agree with the 680 people above. I previously worked for a large National cancer charity who have numerous offices in London. I was based at the most spectacular office overlooking Regent’s Park. I believe it was left to the charity in a legacy. Why not sell off real estate in prime locations and put the funds into front line work?
49% of people asked would feel more confident if the organisation was run mostly by volunteers.
Wow! That is a little scary. I was at a well-known nature reserve on Thursday with my son. The café is run by volunteers. We waited 20 minutes in a queue to be served and when we reached the front of the line we were told that they had had a coach full of visitors in an hour before and so there was a 20 minute delay on food?? The volunteers were slow and appeared flustered. They seemed untrained, unappreciated and unsupported.
The organisation I work for have over 80 volunteers including the Board of Trustees, who govern us and 9 paid staff (7 of whom are part-time). Our volunteers do an amazing job and are key to the work we do in our local community. In fact, we have recently received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the equivalent of an MBE for volunteer groups. However, operationally the skills, training and experience lies with the staff. Never the less, the input of volunteers is much appreciated and central to our success.
I guess my concern is why 490 people out of 1,000 would have more confidence in volunteers running an organisation than paid members of staff. That places doubt on our credibility and ability. Why?
45% of people asked said that no one should earn more than £50,000 a year.
I wish! Clearly they have never worked for a small charity north of the border at grass roots level.
10% of those surveyed felt that staff working for a charity should work a day a month for free.
Really? Would you work for free? Most people that I know who work in the third sector already work more hours than they are paid to and go that extra mile for the cause. Just because we work for a charity doesn’t mean that we don’t have a mortgage, bills to pay or a car to run. I remember working 12 hour shifts for peanuts in the hospitality sector and making a conscious decision to leave and work for a worthwhile cause (for peanuts) instead of lining someone’s pocket. I have already done my bit and continue to – have you?
I think this survey shows a real lack of understanding of how most charities operate. The larger National organisations may have staff who travel first class, get paid over £50,000 a year, work in London and get an all-expenses paid Christmas Party but in reality most of us charity workers give more than we get, work in drafty buildings with 1960’s carpets and yellow walls, organise and pay for our own Christmas lunch and travel on overcrowded public transport.
Blog by Elyse Kirkham, Fundraising & Events Officer