Children in Need Shows Why Charities Need to be Fully Open About Costs

Children in Need Shows Why Charities Need to be Fully Open About Costs

BBC Children in NeedCapital letters don’t work well on radio. So when the excellent promotions for this week’s BBC’s Children in Need appeal tell us that “all your donation will go to Children in Need”, do they also mean “all your donation will go to children in need”?

The BBC insists that they do. After past criticism for implying that the appeal had no administration costs, it has settled on a form of words explaining that “every penny” of a cash donation goes out in a grant to a good cause because overheads are met from other income.

To confirm this is far from easy. You probably need to be a qualified accountant to do so. And after half an hour wrestling with the numbers, you’re left with a lingering sense that whoever put them together has gone through hoops to avoid any suggestion that a donated pound is passing through the books anything less than wholly intact.

This is in no way to attack the BBC’s annual fundraiser. In many ways it is a model of transparency, adhering to the open-data principles of the 360Giving initiative, so that donors can not only find details of the 2,400 UK projects it has supported over the past year, but can also use clever interactive maps to see which ones are in their locality.

The question remains, however, whether Children in Need, which employs 96 people, is doing the wider voluntary sector any favours by suggesting that a charity’s essential overheads can be met in the small print of balance sheet and need not trouble the average donor.

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From: Guardian Voluntary Sector Network

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