In recent years there has been much controversy regarding the fundraising practices of some larger, national charities. The most high-profile controversy followed the tragic death of 92 year old Olive Cooke who had been bombarded with hundreds of requests for donations each month. As a result, and rightly so, fundraising practices are changing.
There has been a backlash against chuggers, those annoying, mainly young men and women who accost you in the street trying to get you to take out a standing order for one good cause or another. They are rarely transparent about the amount of commission taken from each donation by them and their employing organisation. The former MP for Brighton Pavilion, David Lepper, did some excellent work to try to have chuggers regulated.
Now we have an independent adjudicator, the Fundraising Regulator, which can form judgements over the practices of fundraisers.
Many charities are going out of their way not to offend anyone for fear of a complaint as well as not wanting to upset potential donors even when it means having to pull their punches when commenting on the causes of poverty.
I was having a discussion recently with one of my colleagues, Jo Berry, where we speculated about whether we “should turn nasty”. The idea was to actually name the group or groups who are adding to the housing crisis in Brighton, and demanding that they provide meaningful financial support for those organisations that are trying to deal with the fallout resulting from their successful enterprise when it exacerbates the local housing crisis.
One such group are the DFL’s, those who have moved Down from London, who have sold up in the capital, making a tidy profit, buying up housing in Brighton and, increasingly, squeezing people out of the town centre and from the city as a whole.
I know that in the street where I have lived for over 20 years, every new resident I have met in the last five years has moved down from London.
I can understand the attractions of Brighton and why people wish to move here, but there are consequences when these economic migrants displace locals.
I wonder how it would go down with our supporters if I began blaming the DFL’s for being part of the reason why we have so many people sleeping on the streets and for the hardship caused to local people from the increase in property prices? I’m sorely tempted to do so when I hear them complain about rough sleeping in Brighton and criticising the City Council and the charities for not doing more. (I do know that the housing crisis in Brighton and throughout the country is far more complex than this and I blog about this quite often, but displacing local people is part of the problem locally).
I wouldn’t want to offend those people who are doing well out of the property boom locally, the developers, those who build or buy to leave, the estate agents, the landlords, the consultants, the very people we make overtures to in the hope that they will support us. They are doing very well from the property market locally.
Perhaps we should have the equivalent of the Living Wage campaign, but this time aimed at estate agents and property developers, perhaps called the ‘1% for Housing’ initiative where they donate 1% of their profits to those charities that are looking to mitigate the impact of the buoyant housing market locally.
I would welcome any comments on this idea.