Charities Are Cash Registers Without The Till Receipts



Paul Kelly, former CEO of Console, at The National Mental Health Conference in Newbridge, Co Kildare in 2013

Irish charities.

Stay away from them, all of them and don’t give them cash.

Frilly Keane writes

The biggest issue with Charities registered for Tax purposes (CHY) and or with the Regulator, is not that there are too many of them, or that there are too many of them competing for your attention, or for the next Ladies Who Lunch photo op with the big cheque, or for the cute hoor tax benefits, or that there are too many of them filling in for basic Health services.

It’s the cash.

The cash that goes into the bucket at the traffic lights, the cash that gets collected in exchange for a raffle ticket, or the cash from the cake sale, the cardboard money boxes, the bingo nights, the sponsorship cards, the cash the cash the cash.

There is no possible way of accurately recording a single cent of it that can be capable of providing assurance; to the giver, the receiver, or the public-at-large.

I’ve already told ye ta’ stay away from them, all of them. Volunteer your time instead, provide direct assistance yourself, just don’t give them cash.

So this week, I’m going to lob sum’ting else out there.

Get rid of this Charitable Status lark altogether – be a licensed Not-For-Profit (NFP) organisation instead.We already have the set-up to vet, license, regulate and monitor these type of Not-For-Profit enterprises; let me introduce you to the Central Bank of Ireland.

Incorporate or don’t incorporate, be a partnership or a co-op or a single person entity; just don’t call it a charity.

Once an applicant, any applicant, passes through a Central Bank process, then let them apply for zero rated VAT, Income Tax/ Corporation Tax etc.

Anyone reading this that has any experience of Central Bank registration and regulation will know that these are the people to manage this NFP Licensing.

These newly licensed NFPs must be required to treat all receipts as Sales Income, and provide the ‘customer’ a Sales Receipt. That customer now has an allowable expense for tax purposes from a Licensed NFP vendor.

If the Not-For-Profit is a payee of a State Agency, like the HSE, then, (I’m sure there already is but…) there must be an Engagement Letter or a Service Agreement, or a Grant Application suite of criteras and conditions; so it must naturally apply that as per the terms of the Engagement/ Agreement, bill them as an Invoice/ Payment becomes due.

Raise a numbered itemised Invoice, and there’s your documented claim for services rendered. If the services are billed for fraudulently, those Central Bank officials will have that NFP shut down before another credit card gets charged.

Something else I’d like to see more attention paid to and that is how they report their income.

Reporting Gross Income in the Financial Statements is not enough, even if there are line entries presenting the other sources of Income, i.e. Bequests, Fundraising Activities, Healthcare Insurers,

Research Grants and on ‘n on. Financial Statements already come with notes, so why shouldn’t every Income transaction be available in a .pdf for a full drill-down by any member of the public?

Likewise with a particularly High Profile event, especially those that go into schools, like the lollipops and the Lenten campaigns.

Most if not all of the management accounting packages export into excel anyway so making it a requirement for NFPs is hardly a burden on their resources.

NPFs should only be allowed carry Ring-fenced Reserves on their Balance Sheets, ring-fenced meaning for a specific project or activity that is long term or strategic like say a Training Centre or a new Club House.

The same goes for Assets, these must be tested and site inspected by Auditors to ensure they are still in use by the NPF, and their ownership is in the best interests of the NPF. Disposals of any Assets must be referred to third parties and approved by the Central Bank.

Charities and other voluntary and community organisations, large, small, National, Parochial or Multi National have been getting away with eff’all oversight and accountability when it comes to the receiving and distribution of its cash for too long.

STOP indulging them with your disposable cash and STOP giving them the comfort of your apathy.

If the NFP is not up to it, the Central Bank of Ireland are the crew to suss them out. If they evolve into ‘insert any one of the CHY blackguards here’ then CAB, again we already have them at our disposal, are the protective services the Irish Citizen must defer to.

And we must. Acquiring monies under false pretenses it fraud. And so is everything else after that.

I appreciate this is all a bit too high-end and corporate for the smaller and more local community based organisations, but this is how ye’ll get to know yere local Garda Superintendent and Peace Commissioner.

Fundraising for Summer Schemes, Parents Associations, Politicians, and Clubs for all shapes, colours, and postcodes must apply for permission for their non-membership income seeking events.

On their permission application they must nominate an independent non-connected individual to verify the cash collected, and that must only be counted in groups of 3 or more, and that it is only spent for the purpose for which it was earned.

Non-Connected is very important. Canvassing anyone to support a fundraising event that provides cash to pay for your own kids’ summer jobs or to subsidize their tennis lessons can easily be qualified as filling your own pockets, so avoid that risk.

Because guess what? That’s where it all started.

Night night folks; hay ta’be saved n’all that.

BTW, there are some interesting Frill Fillers for ye in the next few weeks, so behave.

Frilly keane’s column appears here every Friday. Follow Frilly on Twitter: @frillykeane


92 thoughts on “Charities Are Cash Registers Without The Till Receipts

  1. fluffybiscuits

    The headline adequately sums it up

    Its light touch regulation mixed with the Charity Regulator having all the bite of a gumless octogenarian…


  2. Gorev Mahagut

    Nicely put. For myself, I think donating your time and skills to help others is charitable. Giving money is only charitable IF YOU DON’T CARE WHAT HAPPENS TO IT. If you retain any interest in how that money is spent then you haven’t given it freely; so it’s a business transaction, and business rules apply.

    Also most “charities” employ paid workers, so they are definitely businesses. They’re in the business of selling peace of mind to a public who have almost completely bought into the lies of neoliberal capitalism. The public believe that greed is good, that everyone must compete. They believe that helping the weak will leave us overrun with spongers. At the same time, they hate feeling selfish and they recognise that society can’t function if we don’t care for each other. But rather than addressing the complications of this broken psychology, they just find it cheaper to outsource the compassion which makes them feel so conflicted and uncomfortable.

    1. pedeyw

      To be fair I think they mostly pay people in order to get competent workers. It’s a tough request to ask someone to work full time for free in any capacity. Not to mention our social welfare system which punishes unemployed people who are willing to give up their free time becasue they are no longer “available for work”.

    2. ahjayzis

      So Jack and Jill should sack the highly trained nurses they use and get in a housewife with a few hours to spare and no medical training?

      Barnardos are being greedy in hiring child care workers and social workers and teachers, sure can’t they get in a job bridge.

      1. Gorev Mahagut

        Professional care should be paid for out of general taxation and provided as a right. That would be the most efficient use of resources. However, the public insist on having low taxes. They do this because the doctrine of scarcity and competition makes them feel insecure, and they believe they must be greedy in order to survive. Then low taxes means no services, and everyone gets upset about that. But instead of dealing with this collectively and honestly from a place of compassion and civic accountability, they cling even tighter to their greed while paying off “charities” to take care of their guilt.

        1. nellyb

          People were under impression that charity services were cheaper and better than public services for same.
          Then we find out loads of tax money went in anyway, but not for services – formidable wages and pensions instead. End result – still poor services, but at even higher price tag because of private top ups.
          8,900 setups received charity status from revenue in 2015 (or 16, can’t remember now). 8 thousand charities for population of 4.5 million. We’ll be well looked after, but are we?

          1. Gorev Mahagut

            People begrudge giving €1 to Revenue, but feel great giving €10 to charity. It’s an emotion-based approach to public finances which leaves a responsibility gap for people like Paul Kelly to exploit.

            And politicians like it that way. It’s so much easier to be the voice of Mr Angry on the Public Accounts Committee that in it is to just run the f**king country properly in the first place.

    3. Turgenev

      There are a couple of charities I’d give money to: Sight Savers International, whose doctors work to fight things like River Blindness in Africa; Médecins Sans Frontières, who are at the centre of every war, famine or humanitarian disaster bravely treating the injured and dying.

      1. Gorev Mahagut

        MSF must be doing something right, given that the US air force bombed their hospital.

      2. Frilly Keane

        I donate to the Lifeboats and the Mountain Rescue groups meself

        And I’m a great admirer of MSF
        their Nobel (’99 I think) was long overdue

        I’d have no problem giving them a few hours a month if they’d have me

          1. Frilly Keane

            maybe, and I’ll take that haymaker proudly FC

            Because I know the Mountain Rescue teams all around the country are 100% local volunteers answering a distress call

            same as the lifeboats

            MSF go into places Charlie Flanagan couldn’t point out on a map for ya

          2. bisted

            …during the earthquake crisis in Haiti, MSF came out and asked people to stop donating to them because they had enough to cover their efforts in Haiti…unfortunately, the fundraising wing seem to have taken over in Ireland.

  3. CharitableAccountant

    Frilly should read the statement on recommended reporting guidelines issued by the UK charities regulator
    Its due to applied here as the next wave of regulation in the coming months. Would’ve saved a bit of that rant. The reason it hasn’t been passed as legislation is because the govt have been dealing with other nonsense like elections and the Healy-Rae’s and parochial politics. Then the summer holidays came around and sure you know yourself!

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Em… no. You could have given a similar rebuttal after the CRC/Rehab debacle 1 to 2 years ago when there was all sorts of promises of regulations coming down the line…. which still haven’t come.
      “Due to be applied” in this country can take decades. So, continually raising the issue and demanding regulation is what’ll get it regulated. Saying, ‘oh, they said they’ll fix that’ …and trusting in govt gets nothing done.

      Keep banging that drum Frilly! The job’s not done until the regulations are in, not promised, or in the pipe line, but done.

  4. louislefronde

    WTG Frilly, Irish Charity Sector endemically corrupt and populated by charlatans who are on the make and on the take.

  5. Sido

    Oh come on – its not the village hall bingo games that use their money to pay for insurance and maintenance or the Tidy Towns 50/50 Draws that keep the grass down, clean up the fast food wrappers and sponsor FAS schemes and essentially do the maintenance that the County Councils are unable to afford (as they themselves are gold mines for those who are fortunate enough to work for them)
    Its the big stuff where you have paid employees who have expertise in raising funds. The guys who have chuggers stalking the shopping areas of Dublin.
    To paint everyone with the same brush is a failed analysis.

  6. veritas

    Your ideas all seem exactly what is needed except for the fact that you seem to have far more faith in the central bank than they deserve. If they had done a better job with the banks and insurance companies we might be in a better place now and a few gougers might be in jail.

    1. Harry Molloy

      they’ve had almost a complete personnel turnover and are a completely different beast today – ask anyone working in finance. at least half the agenda for every meeting is around compliance

    2. Frilly Keane

      Central Bank is a very different operation these days V

      and its probably our most profitable 100% indigenous organisation at the moment
      in 2015 anyway

  7. Falcon Crest

    I take it we’re going to be censored if we point out the irritating spellings and colloquialisms?

  8. moould

    so frilly is attempting to make the jump from gibberish column to serious column?


      1. Falcon Crest

        mostly, be’gorrah be’jaysis. Still devoid of a cogent thought.

        “Stay away from them, all of them and don’t give them cash”

        Brilliant stuff.

        1. They Tried To Make Me Go To Rehab

          they already censored my entire comment because I used a bad word to describe fogie

          the main point I made was if she had made the same article about the gaa’s cash management policy I’d be glad to read it, this one is just mindbendingly stupid and ill conceived

  9. Father Filth

    I have a few inlaws/relatives active in the, ‘industry’, very short hours and they (seemingly) can afford a nice house and car!

    Smug with it, too.

    My direct family were saddened by the recent revelations around generous wages at one of the cancer charities.

    My Mum has rattled a bucket on their behalf, unpayed.. and on her own time and dime for years, only to find that her work is most likely just shoring up someone’s pension pot.

    We’re a very jaded household now. Some Hospice work, locally, but that’s about it.

    Seems to be a certain class thing too, if Siorcha/Lorchan aren’t smart enough to be doctors or engineers, ‘nice but dim’, sure, just slip ’em into a charity somewhere.. nudge nudge wink wink.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      While we’re doing anecdotes…. I’ve a friend in the ‘industry’ and he works his proverbials off for less money than he made when he worked with for-profit companies. He’s not dim at all, and a conscientious worker.

  10. Tish Mahorey

    Plenty more corrupt charities out there but who does and doesn’t get caught out and exposed will all depend on their connections in media, Government and the judiciary, as is usual in Ireland.

  11. LW

    The only good thing about this is that you’re finally approaching readable English. How exactly do you think random unqualified people donating half an hour of their time here and there could adequately replace the dedicated and professional services provided by AWARE, Irish cancer society, Simon etc?

    What are you saying here?: “I appreciate this is all a bit too high-end and corporate for the smaller and more local community based organisations, but this is how ye’ll get to know yere local Garda Superintendent and Peace Commissioner”

    1. Father Filth

      ..what is the yardstick for, ‘professional’.

      One charity, much lauded and feted (awards!) has just turned out to be a pile of piss, with qualifications handed out by the main culprit, without any proof of a course having been taken.

      Your assessment is as good as mine, or anyone else here, because there isn’t an ‘iso’ standard for chairities in this country, it does not exist.

  12. Serv

    Surely the answer to cash is direct debits? Once it goes into their bank it is clearly recorded.

    Also, in the age of contactless cards, could they canvass small amounts that way?

  13. bisted

    …amazed that through this latest exposé the trocaire charity have been running an advertising campaign to raise funds on the latest drought/famine in Africa…never waste a good crisis. They seem to be primarily an advocacy group these days using the slogan ‘strive for justice’…maybe for a catholic group they should strive for justice within their own ranks.
    Wasn’t trocaire Eamon Casey’s moneybox for a long time?

  14. De Kloot

    There are of course far too many charities in Ireland – we know that. There are however a handful of really well run and governed NGOs (we’ll call them that) of which charitable donations part fund their activities. Their work is both professional and very impactful.

    To apply your poisoned sentiment and blind nativity of ‘charities’ in this ‘article’ is downright egregious and utterly fallacious.

    The very notion of giving is a wholly personal experience. If you don’t want to give – for whatever reason – that’s your prerogative. To imply that those who give, should not because those who they give to must be on the take is unbelievably selfish.

    To then suggest that those who give should volunteer is again a dreadfully stupid position to take. A well run NGO will be staffed by professionals and time and time again (for those who care to learn) a professionally run non-profit will be infinitely better run, better governed and deliver better value for money than one run on a volunteer basis. And herein lies the rub. You clearly don’t value the professional contribution a staff member might make to an organisation because of your flawed notion that they are all on the take. A professionally run NGO implies one thing – that is staffed by people with the right skills to carry the mission of the organisation they work for.

    Why? Ignorance. It is my opinion that every giver should know exactly who they’re giving to. A well run NGO can and will provide any and all information requested. If you blindly give without making such requests, more fool you.

    So Frilly, while I normally enjoy your weekly editorial, this week’s post tells me one thing…. You – to coin a well worn American trope – are a garbage human being. No better than Paul Kelly – you are both opposite sides of the same coin.

    1. ScaryLady

      Thank you! You put it better than I ever could.

      It is absolutely true that there are charities that are doing the work that the state should be doing. It is absolutely true that urgent regulation is needed to avoid the shameful situation such as that in Console or in Rehab. It is absolutely true that some people in the charity sector are overpaid.

      But a blanket statement like “STOP indulging them with your disposable cash” is just beyond belief. I have friends whose lives were saved by the RNLI. I have family members who were given comfort and dignity in their last days by the Hospice Organisation. I could go on – but the writer probably isn’t interested in reason, just the usual tub-thumping, miserable blowhard rhetoric that seems to pass for opinion columns at the moment.

      The fact is that until the government is prepared to step up and increase taxes to pay for these services we are all going to have to rely on work of a charity at some point. From your kids going on a sponsored walk for school facilities to a fund-raiser for a cat-scan machine in the local hospital – you will benefit from other people giving.

      This article is poisonous and the writer should be ashamed.

      “Frilly” – congratulations – you got yourself noticed. Isn’t that the point of what you wrote?

      Now buy yourself an extra pint at the weekend instead of giving a few bob to the Tidy Towns Collection.

      1. nellyb

        – misplaced anger that you yourself admit by ‘The fact is that until the government is prepared to step up and increase taxes to pay for these services we are all going to have to rely on work of a charity at some point.’
        Instead of eating Frilly alive, you should confront your TD and her/his party for not providing hospice services to your old relatives. They’ve paid their taxed and so have you.

        1. De Kloot

          You refer to another well worn misconception. To imply that any and all services should be socialised and communally State supplied by parish-pumping your TD is plainly daft. It’s clear that this has not and will never, ever work for the good of a population.

          Frilly posted a mightily provocative op-ed. The usual bottom barrel scrapers here lap it up and Frilly swoops off to save another day….

          Nope. It’s an appalling piece and while I know I’m very much in the minority here, I can’t let this mean-spirited piece go unchallenged….

          1. Frilly Keane

            an yet
            “are a garbage human being. No better than Paul Kelly”

            isn’t a bit mean-spirited

            give over

          2. nellyb

            “parish-pumping your TD” – it’s interesting you’ve reduced it to that. Is having a cancer or whatever unit in your public hospital parish-pumping? Will you deny that there are successful state models in existence on earth, like, that do not reduce citizens to charity beggars, like we do, because we can’t sort out political system through our civic impotence.

        2. ScaryLady

          I think that we are both in agreement that the state needs to take responsibility for many – but not all – of the services provided by charities. However, when someone posts a provocative – and frankly nonsensical – piece advocating boycotting donations to all charities, they expect to be criticised. They would be disappointed if they weren’t. That’s the whole point of this type of rhetoric.

          It’s noble of you I suppose, to jump to his (or her) defence but I find it difficult to believe that anyone – other than a keyboard warrior who only deals in absolutes – actually subscribes to this kind of mean-spiritedness.

          1. bisted

            …the ‘mean-spirited’ are the Paul Kellys and bishop Caseys who divert funds for well-meaning donations to their own nefarious ends…

  15. Kdoc1

    Patsy McGarry wrote a piece on this subject recently in the IT. Some of the figures involved are astonishing. For example, without any public alms, of the eight homeless charities, four of them received State aid in 2014 of €33 million. Most, of the money, and in some cases, all of the money, goes on staff costs.That money, coupled with whatever millions the State pays for emergency accommodation, could build palatial dwellings for those unfortunates who lost their home.
    I made a point before regarding why so many charities are doing the same or similar work e.g. Trocaire, Concern, Goal Bothair, the eight charities dealing with homelessness and the growing number associated with suicide prevention and postvention. If they don’t want to viewed as self-serving they should commence merger negotiations immediately.

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Hang on, when dealing with the homeless, most costs are staff. Would you prefer we just bought an empty building, and said here… have at it, no staff inside.

      Your “all of the money, goes on staff costs” is out of context and takes no account of what services (much of which is ‘hands on’ person to person) are required for the homeless in all fairness.

      So, say we build the palatial buildings… what then? You do know that many homeless need basic assistance on how to live a normal existence, many have mental issues, and addictions. What does your solution have to offer those problems… nada.

      On the merger front, you may have something there… I agree, to some extent.

      1. Kdoc1

        No I don’t want an empty building. I would prefer if the money was used to actually provide homes.
        If there needs to be a homeless charity, let us settle for one.
        I think you are confusing the general homeless population with what’s known as rough sleepers (they’re in the minority) and some of those certainly have addiction and other mental health issues which are probably better addressed through social services rather than a homeless charity.

    2. De Kloot

      But why should they merge?

      Each of those organisations have their own ethos and their own focus. While you think that they should all merge into one mega charity, the reality is unrealistic.

      I’ll take two of the organisations mentioned. Trocaire is the overseas aid and development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland – as in it is faith based. Concern is secular and NOT faith based. It is independent and was created by a number of concerned citizens in the 1960’s.

      So right away you have a serious incompatibility at heart of what these organisations are. There is no way they could or should merge. Note: i’m not for one minute suggesting that one org. is better than another because of its believe system. People will give to those they associate most with and that, again is and should be their prerogative.

      It’s my believe that those who view charities as self-service are those who by their very nature and nor prone to putting their hand in their pocket… that they will happily crib and moan and throw rocks at those who do. Who rage that the State needs to fix all the problems and That they really don’t care to learn because they honestly could not care who dies in a ditch, door well or refugee camp.

      1. Frilly Keane


        but aren’t Trocaire and Concern sharing the same Irish Aid pie

        and aren’t they sharing the same footfall when it comes to high drama Disaster Relief campaigns?

        but you’re the know all Kloot

        so tell us they’re not

        1. De Kloot

          Firstly, you have to understand the governance model and structure of each organisation. Something I feel very strongly about – understanding how and where your money is spent.

          Trocaire distribute aid predominantly through partners, mainly their international equivalents who are part of the Caritas network. For want of a better description, Caritas is structured similarly to the way the Red Cross/Red Crescent is structured. Headquartered in the Vatican, Caritas exists broadly in every country and deliver aid, relief and social services. Trocaire is its Irish member and will fund their activities in the countries where they operate. I would add it’s delivered not just to Catholics via a parish network, but there you go.

          Concern by and large program directly. They have their own staff (mostly all local) who deliver their aid and relief on their terms and to those they feel need it most (in countries deemed very fragile and unstable, In areas and regions many smaller Irish NGOs could simply not serve). Their aid is unconditional – there is no consideration of race or religion. (sidenote, you’d be surprised how many flagship international orgs do deliver their aid with conditions)

          So, that all said you suggest an argument that Irish Aid just hand over bags of money and away they all go. There are co-funding models, there are contracts and grants. But in sort, the monies presented to these organisations are by and large to carry out specific pieces of work on behalf of the Irish Government. So the funding is restricted on what it can be spent of and required reporting is detailed and specific. Finally, when it comes to disaster relief delivery a lot of their emergency materials and supplies kept in storage by Irish Aid (in a UN compound in Dubai). Of course, these orgs will also distribute their own supplies too. So it’s a contractual relationship with the Irish Government – Irish Aid pay a fee to these organisations for their logistical and distribution capabilities.

          I know all this for a few reasons but mainly I am what would be deemed a major donor to a series of NGOs. I make it my absolute business to understand what impact the monies I donate will have to a specific or a series of programs. I make it my business that the organisation has strong governance, auditability and strong financial oversight and that they align with my personal belief system. (what I mean is I could never donate to an org like WorldVision or Samaritan’s Purse)

          Frilly, a little bit of knowledge and genuine interest in a sector goes a long way.

      2. Kdoc1

        I don’t understand your logic in relation to the charities you mention. One, as you say, is faith based and the other is secular. If one is approaching its mission from the point of view of a particular brand of religion, then it should be financed by that religion. If it leaves its religious outlook aside then I don’t see the reason why they can’t merge with others of a similar bent and have one CEO and admin staff.
        Incidentally, It’s my belief that many who put their hands deep into their pockets (and gave of their time) for Console are deeply regretting their own generosity – maybe they’re even cribbin’ and moanin’.

        1. De Kloot

          Faith based organisations are by their very nature insular and have something of a closed view of the world – their very ethos prevents them merging.

          I never said that mergers are a bad thing when ethos and activities are compatible… For example Concern and Gorta/Self Help Africa are in discussions to merge… GSHA itself being two merged organisations. This is all knowledge in the public domain.

          I will repeat though, there is no way a merger between faith based entities and secular ones could ever happen…. But then as i described, Trocaire is part of a much larger global entity – Caritas based out of Rome. They have no need of a local merger.

  16. ivan

    Complete crass, gross, over simplification.

    I’m involved with a charity trying to build two hospice units for end of life sufferers.

    we presently offer respite, nursing and counseling services, but aim for bricks/mortar centre.

    that requires cash money to build.

    going by your logic either we should call it all off, go home and stop doing what we, and stop aiming for what we’re aiming for? is that right?

    Because volunteer builders, engineers. architects are thin on the ground. As are nurses, counselors etc.

    1. Gorev Mahagut

      You don’t need to do anything different.

      However, given that you are paying professionals a fee in return for a service, it has to be admitted that yours is a commercial enterprise.

      Like any commercial enterprise, you raise revenue by supplying goods and/or services in exchange for cash. The party to this transaction is, hereafter, “the consumer”.

      The service provided to the consumer is, in your case, the feeling of wellbeing enjoyed by the person who has performed a meritorious deed (hereafter, “the feels”).

      As with any commercial enterprise, if you fail to provide the feels, or provide the feels of insufficient quality, the consumer is entitled to redress under consumer protection legislation.

      With me so far? It gets a bit tricky from here on in.

      As the feels is an entirely subjective phenomena, there exists no objective metric by which the quality of the feels can be measured.

      However, if the consumer suspects that their money is funding the lifestyle of paid professionals, the quality of the feels is reduced. The reduction in quality of the feels is inversely proportional to the quality of lifestyle enjoyed by the paid professionals.

      In order to maintain the quality of the feels, you (the commercial enterprise) are committed to downplaying consumer awareness of the quality of lifestyle enjoyed by the paid professionals. The risks of misleading consumers, albeit with the implied (but not the informed) consent of the consumer, occupies a grey area in the accepted practices of society.

      1. ivan

        By that logic, if we weren’t trying to build, we wouldn’t be commercial, is that right?

        We’re not commercial either way. Not in the conventional sense of wanting to turn a profit, just provide the service that the State, itself, can’t/won’t.

        1. Gorev Mahagut

          You don’t become a charity simply because profit is not your main ambition. Lots of openly-commercial operations are established by people with motives beyond the merely venal, including love of a craft and desire to provide a service. It’s insulting to them (and damaging to society) to say profit is the only possible motive for a successful business (and there is nothing wrong with wanting to be paid for your work).

          However, openly-commercial businesses aren’t facing a crisis of public perception. Charities are, and their “business model” is failing (people are giving them less money).

          To quote T. S. Eliot, “After such knowledge, what forgiveness?”.

    2. veritas

      which part of stop calling yourself a charity,become a non-profit organisation and be regulated by the central bank do you not understand. No one said all should disappear. on a lighter note maybe they should all be non prophet organisations.

    3. nellyb

      Are you honestly not seeing the other side of the story?
      Charities had always been the LAST RESORT for poor and destitute, when everything fails and people go hat in hand begging for private help, entirely dependent on good will of private individuals. There is no dignity in receiving charity. While you feel good helping people, do all people feel good using charity services? Like beggers, but which they are not.
      I much prefer to have the likes of you working in public service and I’ll pay for it fair and square through taxation. You get your earned income and pension, I get service I am entitled to as taxpayer. What’s wrong with that?

        1. italia'90

          Frilly, I’ve always donated cash to the MSF offices in Baggot St. I donate a portion of my “returns” from misguided bets which come off. (Portugal @16/1 in the Euros was my last bet) It’s not huge by any imagination, but they are always so appreciative and do what I believe is essential work in war zones,that successive Irish governments have aided and abetted the aggressors. I stopped giving to Bothair when I learned of some utterly reckless practices by current and past senior management and directors. They might be worth a look for some of the curious on here. You’ll have to go back to the 90’s to find connections with dubious characters and large sums of money going through staff accounts. These facts were bragged about in The White House on O’Connell St. Limerick in my presence. Utter ladyparts.

          1. Kdoc1

            I looked up a few articles on Bothar and they would certainly give cause for concern there too.

  17. Junkface

    If everybody stopped giving to lesser known charities outside of MSF, Trocaire, Red Cross, Irish Caner Society, then the other smaller, less transparent ones would go away. We only need 10 to 20 Certified Big Charities in the country, not 4,000 or whatever.

    1. Tish Mahorey

      Yeah lets cut back on the various illnesses and causes.

      Can we merge Cancer and Heart Disease? How about lumping all wheelchair uses into one charity only despite the many reasons they use them. And stick deaf and blind in together too. All African countries in one big Trocaire box. ADHD, Autism, Ataxia, all into one.

      Get Michael O’Leary on it, consolidate, merge, sell off.

      We can’t be feeling sorry for everyone.

      1. Junkface

        Thats not what I meant. There should be a well organised transparent charity for each of the various causes and it should be regulated by the government, we sure a s hell don’t need 8,000 charities for a country this small, its out of control. There has to be a compromise.

        Currently Irish people’s giving nature is being taken advantage of, anyone can see that

      2. Kdoc1

        Are you involved in the charity business? Are you seeking a separate charity for each African country as your garbled comment suggests? That would be great employment for 54 charities. Do you not see any merit in some charities merging that perform the same or similar work? Do you support all the CEO’s and their hangers on in each and every charity? Do you see any need for change at all?

    2. Harry Molloy

      those charities are your sports clubs, community initiatives, special purpose charities (eg funds for sending a child to Lourdes or summit) so there will always be a large number.
      But probably a lot of those are delinquent at this stage and should be dissolved.

      1. Kdoc1

        I don’t believe we are discussing the local sports clubs here – although they too should be subject to financial oversight. For want of a better term the focus is on the ‘commercial charities’ where it seems the average CEO is on at least €100 grand plus per year with benefits,

  18. Mr Reveal

    A friend of the family was hired on contract for the St Vincent De Paul in 2006 to work in accounts. The accounts were in a shambles and he was asked to sort them out. After being there for several days, he found out all the accounting staff had been ‘let go’ due to discrepancies and that a whole years accounts had gone missing. It was kept quiet due to the damage it would cause the charity and he was asked not to discuss it.

  19. Harry Molloy

    Frilly, I’ll be honest, I don’t often read your pieces (seldom read the longer opinion pieces these days), but fair play to you for coming back every week cos all you get is abuse rather than constructive criticism from those who don’t like your column.
    And fair play for going to the effort.

    I also agree with the piece. We have a lot of excellent charities in this country but they’re wide open for corruption. And they do form an industry, one with little safeguards. We all need a watchdog and the industry needs a culture change. It can take example from the Credit Union sector falling under the Central Banks umbrella, the prudential, customer protection, and financial crime oversight having been drastically improved.
    There needs to ad the possibility of a regulatory inspection every year, and the certainty of one in the higher risk cases.

  20. Jake38

    Did your readers know that the Royal College of Surgeons is a charity! I kid you not. A charity? A huge landowner in the city, many thousands in fees and colleges all around the globe. And it’s a charity. The mind is too stupified to boggle.

      1. Falcon Crest

        +1 We should outsource surgeoning to Sodehxo, Serco or Group 4.

        What’s your point? The land was given to them in donations. It’s being used to educate surgeons. Do you have an issue with medical care?

        1. Jake38

          Whats my point?

          Thanks for studiously missing my point.

          RCSI is patently a business, not a charity.

    1. The People's Hero

      Holy crap I missed that one. That’s spectacular… I’m now of this opinion that we’re a few frootloops short of a nutritious breakfast….

  21. Anne

    I did a CTRL F ‘anne’ there.. Phew, she hasn’t gone septic on me, again.

    Will I read it? Is it readable? Anyone?

      1. Steph Pinker

        Frivolous Fully Keen and Antagonistic Anne are Narcissists Anonymous: membership qualities and practices have to entail adoring oneself and, attention seeking, licking the mirror in the morning, patronising others, licking the mirror in the afternoon, insulting others, stroking and massaging one’s ego after licking the mirror, post BS comment, lick the mirror, post BS column, re-lick the mirror, narrow one’s mind to the size of the reflection in the mirror, kiss the mirror, interpret things in black and white and snog the mirror, again, through rose-tinted myopic glasses. Rinse, dye hair, and… repeat.

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