“Group linked to Scientologists targets schools.” By Vince Chadwick. Sydney Morning Herald. March 4, 2013. A group with links to the Church of Scientology is targeting Australian kindergartens, claiming that new health checks will put children at risk from psychotropic drugs. The federal government is expanding its health checks program, performed by GPs, which ensures children are ready for school by assessing their development. But the group, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, said these checks could lead to drugs being prescribed. The group warns that common drugs used for hyperactivity, anxiety and depression could have the side-effects of hallucinations, weight loss, stunted growth and heart problems. Letters have been sent to the directors of kindergartens across the country in the past year. Fine print beneath the group’s name reads: ”Established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology to investigate and expose psychiatric violations of human rights.” Some kindergartens have reportedly shared the DVD and information with parents, but the director of J.J. McMahon Memorial Kindergarten in Kew, Melbourne, said the campaign preyed on people’s greatest vulnerability: concern for their children. Catherine Waters, who received the letter last week, said she saw it ”as further deceit on behalf of this cult to gain influence in society”.
CATHOLIC SEX ABUSE SCANDAL
“Cardinal O’Brien faces Vatican sexual conduct inquiry as he asks forgiveness of those he ‘offended’.” By Kunal Dutta. Independent (UK). March 23, 2013. Britain’s most senior Roman Catholic cleric, has admitted his sexual conduct had “fallen beneath the standards expected of me”. The Northern Ireland-born cleric stepped down from his post as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh last month, a day after three priests and one former priest made allegations of “inappropriate” behaviour against him. He is now expected to face a Vatican inquiry after a new Pope has been chosen. After initially denying the allegations, the cardinal last night admitted sexual wrongdoing for the first time, as he asked forgiveness for those he had “offended”. A statement issued on his behalf by the Catholic Church in Scotland said: “In recent days certain allegations which have been made against me have become public. Initially, their anonymous and non-specific nature led me to contest them. The claims of inappropriate behaviour were reported to the Pope’s representative in Britain last month. Mr O’Brien originally denied the claims and said he was seeking legal advice. Last night Mr O’Brien, 74, said: “I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland.” Until the allegations last month, the cardinal had been outspoken on issues including euthanasia and abortion, and had described gay marriage as a “grotesque subversion.”
“Former top British cardinal apologizes for ‘below standards’ sexual conduct; A former cardinal in Britain admits sexual impropriety as the Catholic Church prepares to choose the next pope, NBC’s Keir Simmons reports.” NBC News/Reuters. March 4, 2013.
“Cardinal Keith O’Brien faces Vatican inquiry over misconduct claims; O’Brien’s confession of misconduct expected to result in inquiry but senior British Catholic rejects significant church reforms.” Guardian. March 4, 2013.
“Cardinal Keith O’Brien faces Vatican sexual conduct inquiry.” BBC News. March 4, 2013.
“Will the church address its real issues?” Boston Globe. March 4, 2013.
“Boston Archbishop Urges Steps to Fight Sex Abuse.” Wall Street Journal. March 4, 2013.
“Pell in list of ‘dirty dozen’ cardinals.” Sydney Morning Herald. March 8, 2013.
“Most cardinals compromised by sex-abuse scandal: victims.” Sydney Morning Herald. March 4, 2013.
“Irish charities find the going gets tougher; The charity sector in Ireland must bridge the gap between growing demand and falling income.” By Neil Brady. Guardian. March 5, 2013. As Ireland is forced to endure a fifth year of austerity measures, the country’s charities sector is coming under ever greater pressure to do more with less. The sector is facing increasing difficulty in bridging the gap between growing demand for its services and falling income levels. Figures from the Revenue Commissioners there show a 15% reduction in charitable contributions between 2009 and 2011, while state funding is also down in several areas. A recent survey conducted by The Wheel, a charity umbrella organisation, revealed 60% of Irish charities have experienced a fall in funding since 2009. This is undoubtedly the “biggest challenge” facing the sector right now, according to chief executive, Deirdre Garvey. “The damage done here is to community connections and community infrastructure. The maintenance of and rebuilding of this social infrastructure is a severe challenge, a real problem.” At the same time, demand for services has increased by some 60% over the same period. In the area of domestic violence, for example, the number of women receiving support has increased by 55% over the last five years. Poverty is also increasing. Figures released earlier this month by Ireland’s Central Statistics Office also show that poverty in general is now at an all-time high, with 733,000 people categorised as being “in poverty”. The country also has the fifth highest child poverty rate in the EU at 19.5%. The general strain is clear to see in emigration levels: the latest figures show a record 87,000 people left the republic between April 2011 and April 2012. For many, charities are the “last line of defence”, according to Garvey. “If we can’t provide that safety net, it is really going to affect a family’s ability to get by.” The importance of charities’ work is reflected in the sector’s size. It employs 100,000 people, or 6% of the working population. This compares with a proportion of 2.7% of the working population in the UK. The sector also generates an income of €5.5bn (£4.7bn) per annum, or 3% of Irish GDP.
“Mother Teresa Humanitarian Image A ‘Myth,’ New Study Says.” By Ron Dicker. Huffington Post. March 4, 2013. A new study by Canadian academics says Mother Teresa was a product of hype who housed the poor and sick in shoddy conditions, despite her access to a fortune. The Times of India, reporting on the controversial essay, wrote that the authors asserted Mother Teresa saw beauty in the downtrodden’s suffering and was far more willing to pray for them than provide practical medical care. Meanwhile, researchers say, the Vatican engaged in a PR ploy as it threw aside concerns about her suspicious financial dealings and contacts to forgo the five-year waiting period to beatify her. One of the researchers, Serge Larivee of the University of Montreal’s department of psychodeducation, told the school’s website, “Given the parsimonious management of Mother Theresa’s works, one may ask where the millions of dollars for the poorest of the poor have gone?”
“If The Catholic Church Were A Business, How Would You Fix It?” By Caitlin Kenney. All Things Considered/National Public Radio. March 6, 2013. The next pope will be the spiritual leader of the world’s Catholics. He will also be leading a multibillion-dollar financial empire. And from a business perspective, the Catholic Church is struggling. We talked to several people who study the business of the church. Here are a few of the issues they pointed out.
“Activists are intimidating charities into quitting work scheme, says DWP; Department says charities have been subjected to ‘intimidation and abuse’ for taking part in back-to-work programme.” Guardian. February 27, 2013. The Department for Work and Pensions has blamed a band of activists for intimidating high-street charities into quitting a major government employment programme. On Monday Sue Ryder became the third charity this month to leave the DWP’s mandatory work activity (MWA) scheme, which makes jobseekers work at least 30 hours a week unpaid doing activities which benefit the community such as recycling, park maintenance and in retail shops and warehouses for the third sector. If the unemployed do not take part they can have their benefits reduced for up to three years. Early this month the animal charity PDSA and deafblind charity Sense also withdrew from the scheme, citing disquiet over the controversial use of so-called “forced volunteers” in their stores. Their departures follow four other charities late last year – the British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research, Age UK and Scope – leading to fears that the entire scheme could soon become unviable if not enough month-long placements can be found.
“Charities urge BBC to launch emergency appeal for victims of Syria’s war; Corporation fears lack of public sympathy for plight of millions may hurt fundraising efforts.” By Cahal Milmo and Paul Peachey. Independent. March 3, 2013. Broadcasters including the BBC are under increasing pressure to allow an emergency appeal for victims of Syria’s civil war. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), an umbrella fundraising body for Britain’s leading humanitarian organisations, has formally approached the BBC about airing a nationwide appeal which could raise tens of millions of pounds for efforts to help nearly four million people caught up in the conflict. About 70,000 people are thought to have died. Key charities including Islamic Relief and Oxfam are convinced of the need to combine fundraising efforts into a DEC appeal as the fighting across Syria reaches a deadlock and refugees both inside the country and across its borders struggle for accommodation and basic needs. The Red Cross has also spoken of an urgent need to increase the aid operation inside Syria. Broadcasters would play a vital role in disseminating the DEC’s message about the humanitarian situation in Syria, but The Independent understands that discussions are continuing between NGOs and the networks about whether key criteria for launching an appeal have been met. Concern has been raised about whether the appeal would be successful, and about the difficulty of obtaining footage to show the perilous conditions faced by the estimated two million people trapped inside Syria, where journalists have been regularly targeted. With media coverage often focused on the military confrontation or diplomatic failures, there is debate within the DEC about whether the third of three criteria for an appeal – the need to prove existing or likely “public sympathy for the humanitarian situation” – has been fulfilled. The BBC confirmed tonight that it had received a request from the DEC to air an appeal and that the matter was under consideration. A spokeswoman said: “The BBC has now received a formal request to broadcast a DEC appeal. We are looking at the details and will be making a decision shortly.”
“London housing associations join private market to fund affordable rents; Top 15 social landlords to build 13,000 new affordable homes but also let and sell properties at market rates to fund projects.” By Hannah Fearn. Guardian. March 3, 2013. London’s housing associations are joining the private property market to help ‘generation rent’ – those unable to buy or afford sky-high rental prices. Housing associations in London are to venture into the private property market on a grand scale for the first time in an attempt to extend their social housing mission to “generation rent” – the growing number of people who can not afford to buy in the capital and are vulnerable to exploitation from unscrupulous landlords. The 15 biggest social landlords in London are working together to build 13,000 affordable homes by 2015 – but they will also provide an additional 4,000 properties for rent at market prices and at least 1,100 homes for sale at regular London prices. They will use the profits to fund further affordable housing. Housing associations have traditionally focused solely on affordable housing for low earners and key workers such as teachers and nurses. The new strategy is a widening of their scope to help those in their 20s and 30s who have become known as “generation rent” – those trapped renting at sky-high prices, at the mercy of sometimes exploitative landlords. The “G15″ group of housing associations – which houses one in 10 London residents – is promising to grant more secure tenancies than those available on the private market. The intention is to allow tenants to settle down for longer with a plan to “kitemark” label these better quality homes for those who rent in an attempt to go head to head with the rest of the private market.
“The right impact measurement tool depends on the objectives concerned. Pratik Dattani explains the difference between SROI and social accounting, and the factors in deciding the best approach.” By Pratik Dattani. Guardian. March 4, 2013. The right impact measurement tool depends on the objectives concerned Pratik Dattani explains the difference between SROI and social accounting, and the factors in Which impact measurement tool would best suit your charity? According to the NCVO, there are more than 160,000 charities in Britain. Of these, nearly 80% believe that measuring impact makes their organisation more efficient. More than 70% have increased their efforts in measuring results over the past five years. But, according to James Newell, a fundraising consultant and senior associate at Kingston Smith, there are several hundred tools for measurement available. So in order to choose between measurement tools,you need to think about why your organisation wants, or needs, to measure its impact. Voluntary organisations may want to measure their impact because of bottom-up factors, such as a desire to improve services, or a wish to see what difference the organisation makes to society. These were certainly the most important factors highlighted in New Philanthropy Capital’s (NPC) recent research. But equally, organisations may need to measure their impact as a result of top-down factors, such as funder or trustee requirements. This could be true for organisations more reliant on grant applications.
“How to get ahead in … charitable investment bonds; Debbie Andalo looks at the impact charitable investment bonds have on the role of fundraising.” By Debbie Andalo. Guardian. March 5, 2013. Inviting donors to invest in a charitable bond may be written into the job description of fundraisers as charities look for more creative ways to boost income. Last month Golden Lane Housing, the housing arm of Mencap, launched a charitable investment bond, as it sought to raise £10m capital to spend on building new homes for people with learning disabilities. Working in partnership with Tridos Bank, Golden Lane wants investors to commit a minimum £2,000 for five years in return for an annual gross interest rate of 4%. Alastair Graham, Golden Lane’s director, launching the bond, said: “In difficult times, we need creative and ambitious solutions. Unprecedented cuts to local authority budgets mean charities must widen their sources of funding.” The rent revenue from the new homes is expected to generate enough money to pay investors back – with interest. Kirsten Howie, who is head of major gifts and trusts at Mencap, says the initiative brings a new string to her professional bow. She says: “I am really excited about being able to offer this to donors. It’s really brilliant. It’s a new way forward for the sector.” She thinks investment charitable bonds will appeal across the donor landscape to major and corporate donors but also “ordinary” donors as well. She says: “It’s quite unusual to say to people ‘invest in a charity’ rather than just giving your money away. The concept of making something back from a charity in financial terms is quite new to people.”
“Should businesses measure their social impact? What are the differences between businesses, social enterprises and charities when it comes to social impact?” By Tris Lumley. Guardian. March 7, 2013. I’ve spent a fair amount of the last nine years encouraging charities and social enterprises to measure their impact. Imploring, convincing, and more recently assisting charities’ leaders to take this impact stuff seriously. Now I’m sure there’s a pretty hefty selection bias in those I meet and with whom I discuss these issues, but it seems we’re getting somewhere. Charity chief executives seem pretty convinced they need to take a more analytical, data-driven approach to managing their organisation than they thought a decade ago. Yet in the time I’ve worked in this sector, I’ve spent almost no time talking to pure private sector businesses about measuring their social impact. However, recently I’ve been getting out and about among business leaders, and it seems it’s starting to get onto their agendas. For example Centrica, the energy company that recently published a report claiming it contributed as much to the UK economy as the city of Manchester, and helped create enough jobs to employ everyone in Leicester. That got me thinking about the differences between a business, a social enterprise and a charity, and how these differences might affect their approaches to social impact. I asked myself – is it inevitable that in the future it will be routine for all businesses to measure, manage and report on their social impact?
“Exposure of tax scam was ‘disaster’ for charity sector, says Commission chief.” William Shawcross: “It’s very damaging to the Commission” By Alexi Mostrous. Times of London. March 8 2013. The exposure of a massive charity scam by The Times has been a “disaster” for Britain’s charity sector, its regulator has admitted. William Shawcross, the chairman of the Charity Commission, apologised to MPs for his organisation’s failure to recognise that the Cup Trust was a tax avoidance scam when it applied for charitable status in 2009. “In retrospect we should have asked more questions,” he told the Public Accounts Committee. “The fact the trustee had an organisation based in the British Virgin Islands should have been a red flag. “This whole thing is a disaster for the charity sector.”
“Getting ahead in charity finance: Live discussion. Join us from 1-3pm on Friday 15 March to discuss professional development for charity finance staff.” By Abby Young-Powell. Guardian. March 6, 2013. Join our expert panel for advice on your career in charity finance. “Financial skills [are] to the sector what talking is to the human race”, says Caron Bradshaw of the Charity Finance Group (CFG). In times of financial difficulty those skilled in charity finance are more important to an organisation than ever. However it’s essential that finance professionals working in the voluntary sector develop their skills, to help their charity and to improve their career prospects.With that in mind, our Q&A will look at: • What skills employers are looking for; • What charities need to do to upskill their finance staff; • How to build on your core skills; • The best options for training and qualifications. If you’d like to be on the expert panel, please contact Abby Young-Powell, and if you’d like to leave a question, please email or write in the comments section below.
“Eight ways to make corporate partnerships work for your charity; Be creative and engage a company’s employees to make your corporate partnership a success.” By Felicity McLean. Guardian. March 8, 2013. is your corporate partnership working? There are eight ways charities can make such partnerships more successful. You know the score: you’ve spent multiple, coffee-soaked hours researching, writing and submitting grant proposals to the big banks, foundations and funds. The letters of rejection are particularly stinging to you this year because you’ve just had your statutory lifeline cut. Before you run into the distance, disheartened and convinced that all companies are uninterested, consider these ways to make your partnership proposal and corporate relationship a success.