Being charitable to the local conservation charities, we find amounts to listing their negative virtues. The list of the evils that they don’t do brings them more credit than the list of the goods that they do. Their activities frequently proclaimed as well intentioned have a habit of becoming compromised early on. It’s rare to find an unqualified success in their achievements. So what they don’t do on land they control can start with some of the more serious pollution that the irresponsible landowners may commit and move down from there to numerous petty crimes. We had better not start on those things they do that are plain wrongheaded and mean spirited as we are trying to be charitable in that meaning of the word.
Now the media is preoccupied with the terrible impact of new rules on charitable giving and the ending of the tax relief that it has brought to some millionaires. Much of the comment had focused on the effects on the giver, the usually wealthy person who hands over something to his favourite charity and gets tax benefit for doing so.
But what about the charity? Some of them are squealing because such funding from the wealthy donors may now start to dry up. One argument for the clamp down is on the grounds of transparency and accountability. Not all charities can be assured of universal approval and some that claim to be benign and altruistic don’t frankly bear looking into. If monies that would otherwise be going to the exchequer are being diverted to charities with no scrutiny built into the system apart from by the ‘donor’ who may anyway only be handing over the dosh for his own tax benefit, should we not be concerned? If it’s up to the donor to check that his money’s well spent that could work but not if the money hardly even belonged to him in the first place. Well from our experience of SWT there are many reasons for concern and it’s hard to resist the conclusion that it illustrates the problem very well: a charity that largely exists for the benefit of those employed by it.