The recent controversy over the Presidents Club has created a huge amount of discussion across the media about whether charities should turn down money if they are unhappy about how it is raised.
I, as CEO of SoLO was called by a local radio show to comment. The interview can we listened to on the Coventry and Warwickshire BBC website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p05s9bth where I spoke about SoLO’s approach to this dilemma.
Basically, I spoke that if an organisation is to work with integrity and keep to its values, it has to draw the line somewhere in relation to the source of it’s fundraising. How can an organisation like SoLO which is built on respect for the individual link itself to activities that treat women with such little respect. Earlier in the BBC interview, a local resident was berating Great Ormond Street Hospital for turning down the monies on the basis that a few individuals were making decisions about money that could benefit children’s lives. I agree it is a very difficult decision to make and the decision makers in the hospital and the other charities who returned money, must have had to look long and hard at the consequences of such an action. I know that my trustees have had similar conversations in the past and they are not easy.
However, sometimes, those who sit in governance have to make these difficult decisions and they have to make them in the best interest of the charity. I would challenge, then, the criticisers of the charities who have stood by their principles and turned down monies on the basis of integrity and reputation, that whilst those charities might have gained some financial benefit if they had accepted the money, the long term consequences of being linked to dubious practises may well have impacted on their regular supporters.
It is never wise to go for short term gain that could then result in a long term loss. And, as the CEO of a charity that stands on a values base that includes Trust and Integrity, I would have taken the same action as these charities and, at least, I would know that I would sleep at night.