Is it time for BHT to get nasty with its fundraising?

olive-cooke-papers-20150810042745351In 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.

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3 thoughts on “Is it time for BHT to get nasty with its fundraising?

  1. I have recently been thinking about where Stamp Duty goes when a property is sold and whether some of the Stamp Duty could be ring fenced to go directly to the Local Authority specifically to tackle such issues that the local authority is facing. Maybe an additional sliding scale of Local Assistance Housing Duty could be added or included in Stamp Duty? This is a tricky subject as the waves of social mobility impact on all areas, as people in Brighton get priced out of the market they look for more affordable options such as Eastbourne and Hastings. Hastings may not have the mega house / flat prices or rents of Brighton but the issues are still the same, unaffordability, rents and property prices to many out of reach, increases in visible homelessness and hidden homelessness, increased pressures on all local services. Where do people go when the ‘cheaper’ affordable areas are no longer cheap / affordable?

  2. Andy, I’ve been reading your blogs for a while and find them excellent, well written, thought provoking and galvanising. The point of your piece, for me, is that people do come to Brighton (from far and wide, not just London) with money in their pockets – and it doesn’t all need to go to local businesses. Some could go to charity. But it’s not always that straightforward to give to charity. We are told not to give money direct to people who are street-living/sleeping, for example. The most obvious way to give back that I know is through donating and buying in charity shops, particularly the estimable House Project in Saltdean where I live. Is there a BHT charity shop in Brighton that I don’t know about?
    The other thought, which could give an edge in a competitive market, would be for someone to start an Ethical Estate Agency/Property Developer – which would/could thrive on a reputation for excellence and a desire to give something back to the community. They could do the ‘collecting’ for you – asking for a % donation at the point of finishing the sale, a bit like an optional tip. But there’d have to be a board of trustees to monitor their claims! This estate agent could also get on board with Brighton and Hove Council’s offering to private landlords – where they guarantee rent for 3-5 years and then manage the tenancy. It’s not much understood or trusted, I think, but also think it’s a good offer to a landlord who ‘buys to let’ or ‘buys to leave’. After all, estate agents don’t have to be in the letting market, too.

  3. Interesting. I’m not sure singling out DFLs (as you name them) or estate agents and developers for criticism above others is appropriate. Don’t forget developers of new builds fund affordable housing and section 106 infrastructure contributions (this is in essence a tax on land value/development). Quite a lot of estate agents and developers also pay at or above the living wage… I sympathise in that I can see the extent of the problem on Brighton (& Hove’s) streets and would dearly love a solution but as you say yourself it’s a more complex problem.

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