The last few weeks have not been good for the charity sector. The ongoing problems at Kids Company generated a lot of media coverage, none of it positive. Then there were the stories about aggressive fundraising tactics used by some of the country’s best known charities.
The recently announced Charity Commission inquiry into allegations of improper payments to Trustees at the Halo Trust also did little to boost public confidence in the Third Sector.
While the behaviour of some high profile voluntary organisations is certainly open to question, it would be very wrong indeed to believe that all charities should be viewed with suspicion. In a time of austerity, with public sector organisations having to do more work with fewer resources, voluntary organisations are becoming increasingly vital in providing much needed services to some of the most vulnerable members of our society.
Most employees of charities are not earning the six figure salaries that you might read about at some of the larger national charities. Instead they are working long hours for below average wages because they feel that it is the right thing to do.
Over the years I have carried out both paid and voluntary work with a number of small, mainly local, charities. Without exception I have found it to be a worthwhile and rewarding experience. For example, last year I conducted a workshop on communications planning at Sefton CVS which gave local charities some tips on how they can better promote themselves and their services.
I would like to encourage other PR professionals to donate just a few hours of their time to helping a voluntary organisation. You can easily do this by volunteering via the Media Trust or by contacting your local Council for Voluntary Service with a view to becoming a Trustee of a local charity.
You will enjoy the experience, and you will be doing something very worthwhile.