CTC - a Fake Charity?

A place to discuss the issues relating to the proposed change in the national CTC’s structure.
nealh
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CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby nealh » 18 Jan 2011, 9:23pm

While I think much of the work of the CTC charitable trust is surely very fine, I feel quite uncomfortable with a campaigning organisation getting lots of government funding. I was therefore intrigued / unsettled when I came across this website:
http://fakecharities.org/

which seeks to 'out':

"any organisation registered as a UK charity that derives more than 10% of its income—and/or more than £1 million—from the government, while also lobbying the government. That lobbying can take the form of calling for new policies, changes to the law or increases in (their own) funding."

How much did the CTC charitable trust get from government last financial year - is it greater than 1m or 10% of income? Does anybody else feel uncomfortable that the CTC might find itself classed as little better than a QUANGO?

Neal

Regulator
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby Regulator » 20 Jan 2011, 9:56am

'Fake Charities' is a bit of a wacko site, run by several individuals with grudges.

However, they do raise some interesting issues about the role of charities in lobbying, the potential for independence to be suborned in the name of funding, and the sometime unhealthy relationship between the state and the thrid sector.

The impression given to me by comments made by some CTC staff is that CTC has chosen not to push certain issues for fear of upsetting their paymasters in government.

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horizon
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby horizon » 20 Jan 2011, 10:23am

Just to keep things clear here:

the more money an organisation takes from the government the more likely it is to be a proper charity. Charities have never been allowed to be campaigning organisations and only the lax approach of the Charity Commissioners in previous years has allowed the edges to be blurred. Of course, when a charity does become largely government funded it will lose the freedom it previously had to decide how best to look after the the needs of those it administers to. It will indeed become a quasi-quango.

One reason I have kept well clear of the CTC charity debate is that oppostion to its becoming a charity is based (it seems) on its losing its role as a provider of services to members. This is the other ground for an organisation not to be allowed to be a charity - the recent furore over private schools as charities is a case in point.

Most organisations get round these restrictions by having a separate trust to act as a proper charity, as the CTC did. However this leaves the money and resources devoted to campaigning bereft of the financial advantages given to charities. Quite how the CTC will be able to campaign effectively if it becomes solely a charity I don't know - even Oxfam bumps up against the rules on this.

Just to put my own cards on the table, I'm in favour of the CTC remaining as a broadly based hybrid organisation (both campaigning and also grant accepting through a trust). I am not interested in its becoming a narrowly based club - neither this nor full charitable status in my view fully reflect its role properly.
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nealh
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby nealh » 22 Jan 2011, 8:43pm

I'm in favour of the CTC remaining as a broadly based hybrid organisation (both campaigning and also grant accepting through a trust). I am not interested in its becoming a narrowly based club - neither this nor full charitable status in my view fully reflect its role properly.


I agree with this, my primary interest in CTC is its campaigning etc, but there's no reason why a club necessarily has to be narrowly based. That said, as I understand it, serious campaigning charities like Liberty have used a dual structure like CTC's current structure precisely because they are concerned that they couldn't campaign as a charity (but presumably see some benefit having a charitable arm).

reohn2
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby reohn2 » 24 Jan 2011, 4:57pm

FWIW I can't see how any organisation/body can lobby/protest against the decisions of another organisation/body effectively, when that organisation/body funds it either partially or fully.
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horizon
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby horizon » 24 Jan 2011, 7:54pm

(a) a charity that takes most of its money from the government will obviously have much less say over how that money is spent. Many charities are keen to do their own fund raising from other sources for that reason. I'm not sure though that it would stop a charity criticising government policy (aside from the area where they are accepting money of course!). But....

(b) only insofar as that criticism stopped short of political campaigning. However, that doesn't stop an organisation having a charity arm that takes the money with one hand while biting back with the other.

I haven't followed the charity debate in detail but I am assuming that the CTC feels that it can do all the campaigning it needs to while it remains a charity. I cannot quite see how it can do this. My impression is that while it has considered at length how it might continue to provide member services as a charity (itself a difficult area) it may have neglected the campaigning problem.

Personally I think we have a Shakesperian tragedy in the making: the organisation is aware of the competitive pressures it faces to remain a strong, effective body while the membership sees the focus shifting from member involvement to corporate delivery - I think fault line is the relevant phrase here. :(
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

Kevin Mayne
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby Kevin Mayne » 26 Jan 2011, 9:38am

You will find an extensive set of materials on CTC campaigning as a charity here

http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=5366

Any further sugegstions of material you would like added are welcome

Kevin

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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby ChrisButch » 26 Jan 2011, 1:12pm

[quote="horizon"](a) a charity that takes most of its money from the government will obviously have much less say over how that money is spent.

Not necessarily. It depends how strictly you define government funding. Much government funding of charities is indirect, channelled through quangos or, indeed, through other charities which are themselves distributors of grant aid. These indirect channels for government funding have widely varying degrees of autonomy. In the arts, for instance the Arts Council has always been free to operate on what is known as the 'arm's length principle', a convention (by and large observed) under which government does not influence the Arts Council's decisions about the distribution of its grant-in-aid to arts organisation on the ground; and those arts organisations have never been inhibited from work which has been directly or indirectly critical of the government of the day. In another sector, social housing, that isn't the case - the Homes and Communities Agency (and previously the Housing Corporation) funds charitable Housing Associations under guidelines which vary with current government policy. While, therefore, it's right to be cautious about the hidden conditionality of government funding, it's wrong to assume that the recipient's hands will always be inconveniently tied.

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horizon
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby horizon » 26 Jan 2011, 1:48pm

Kevin Mayne wrote:You will find an extensive set of materials on CTC campaigning as a charity here

http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=5366

Any further sugegstions of material you would like added are welcome

Kevin


I had looked through this previously. It's true that the Charity Commissioners are taking a broader view of environmental campaigning while at the same time more strictly enforcing other rules (not necessarily a bad thing). Nevertheless, even the CTC recognises that there are restraints and that these may have to be assessed campaign by campaign. It is interesting to note that Friends of the Earth is quoted on the page as being a campaigning partner (as a charity) when in fact FoE decided to take the opposite route to the CTC and retain its "political wing" as a separate entity - if anyone could confirm this interpretation I would be grateful.

My own concern is not so much the lack of elbow room for campaigning but the slower and more insidious change of organisational culture that may come about as a result of a more uniform structure. Non-governmental organisations are far from immune to the commercial and competitive pressures that face companies in the market place: they will find themselves needing to identify and deliver on targets, recruit staff more focussed on "how much" and "when by" rather than "what" and "why" and develop an organisation that reflects its own corporate needs rather than the needs of the real world.

Becoming a charity doesn't mean that the CTC won't be a successful organisation - in fact that is what it will be but also possibly blind to the limitations of what that actually means.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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horizon
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby horizon » 26 Jan 2011, 1:54pm

ChrisButch wrote:
horizon wrote:(a) a charity that takes most of its money from the government will obviously have much less say over how that money is spent.

Not necessarily. It depends how strictly you define government funding. Much government funding of charities is indirect, channelled through quangos or, indeed, through other charities which are themselves distributors of grant aid. These indirect channels for government funding have widely varying degrees of autonomy. In the arts, for instance the Arts Council has always been free to operate on what is known as the 'arm's length principle', a convention (by and large observed) under which government does not influence the Arts Council's decisions about the distribution of its grant-in-aid to arts organisation on the ground; and those arts organisations have never been inhibited from work which has been directly or indirectly critical of the government of the day. In another sector, social housing, that isn't the case - the Homes and Communities Agency (and previously the Housing Corporation) funds charitable Housing Associations under guidelines which vary with current government policy. While, therefore, it's right to be cautious about the hidden conditionality of government funding, it's wrong to assume that the recipient's hands will always be inconveniently tied.


These are all fair points. I was thinking mainly about social sector charities who did complain at one time that their independence was compromised. Nevertheless, cash on the table is cash on the table...
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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horizon
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby horizon » 26 Jan 2011, 2:01pm

horizon wrote:I haven't followed the charity debate in detail but I am assuming that the CTC feels that it can do all the campaigning it needs to while it remains a charity. My impression is that while it has considered at length how it might continue to provide member services as a charity (itself a difficult area) it may have neglected the campaigning problem.
(


I agree that's actually not true, though I might differ on its conclusions.

I do wonder though whether the CTC may one day have more campaigning room than it actually wants - delivering services that have a tangible outcome and financial recompense may be more attractive than the messy business of generating ideas, opposing policies and creating the visions of the future.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher

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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby Regulator » 27 Jan 2011, 7:16am

horizon wrote:
horizon wrote:I haven't followed the charity debate in detail but I am assuming that the CTC feels that it can do all the campaigning it needs to while it remains a charity. My impression is that while it has considered at length how it might continue to provide member services as a charity (itself a difficult area) it may have neglected the campaigning problem.
(


I agree that's actually not true, though I might differ on its conclusions.

I do wonder though whether the CTC may one day have more campaigning room than it actually wants - delivering services that have a tangible outcome and financial recompense may be more attractive than the messy business of generating ideas, opposing policies and creating the visions of the future.


You may be right about Council not wanting to do the work of "...creating the visions of the future." They've already jettisoned the Strategic Vision (which was supposed to run up until next year) - perhaps because it envisioned CTC remaining as a two part organisation...

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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby gaz » 27 Jan 2011, 10:05am

The Strategic Vision was never intended to be absolute, that can be gleaned from examining the responses to the consultation paper. Foot of page 18, my emphasis.

... the strategy is not a guarantee to commit CTC to a particular course of action. It is a document based on predictions of the best opportunities for CTC. .... The current strategy is ambitious and demands that CTC creates the greatest value possible from the opportunities that arise in the future.


Regulator wrote:You may be right about Council not wanting to do the work of "...creating the visions of the future." They've already jettisoned the Strategic Vision (which was supposed to run up until next year) - perhaps because it envisioned CTC remaining as a two part organisation...


Apart from the strategy of remaining a two part organisation, what do you believe has been jettisoned?
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thirdcrank
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby thirdcrank » 11 Apr 2012, 4:54pm

This thread looks as good a place as any to note that it's widely reported today Georgy Oz has discovered that charities which don't produce much public benefit are being used by the wealthy as a way of avoiding paying tax. You have to wonder how he has lived this long without spotting it, but now that he has, he's gearing up to tackle the abuse. Based on the track records of his predecessors in this connection, ie the reason why there is still so much of this going on, he'll have little success with the well-established ones. That only leaves the newcomers.

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horizon
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Re: CTC - a Fake Charity?

Postby horizon » 11 Apr 2012, 7:22pm

(Note: I'm not sure it's good to have one's old posts brought out... :? )

I was just looking at the YHA website tonight and thinking about the CTC. What I feel is that full charity status will allow the CTC to move to a fully corporate status (the parallel thread about the difficulty of member voting shows that this is inevitable). I don't need to say whether I think this is a good thing or not to be able to comment on its effects:

The main effect IMV is that the CTC will become an effective and successful organisation in its own right - there is a corporate imperative that will ensure that this happens. It will employ an effective and highly paid Chief Executive; it will achieve targets and get results; it will adopt up-to-date technology and the latest management systems; it will derive greater value from the staff it employs by defining targets and cutting waste; it will move faster in the market place, spot trends and deliver services more efficiently; it will compete successfully to attract funding and win contracts; it will reap the rewards of scale by getting bigger and streamlining delivery; it will focus on delivering at the lowest price with the best product; it will identify partners, absorb other slower moving players; it will use PR and advertising; it will identify its customers, become customer focused and deliver what those customers want. In short it will be a successfully competitive organisation with its own internal logic but external market awareness.

It will be above criticism because the alternative is a messy decline into an organisation that reflects the values and traditions of its members but is ineffective in competing in the market place. Those members will no longer prevail against the wishes of a tightly knit, small but effective team of senior managers and trustees. I am not saying whether I think this is a good thing or not - but I am saying that I believe I am right.
When the pestilence strikes from the East, go far and breathe the cold air deeply. Ignore the sage, stay not indoors. Ho Ri Zon 12th Century Chinese philosopher