Charities 'slightly sensationalise' to raise money, says Walking with the Wounded chief

Ed Parker tells The Times that charities compete to paint interesting pictures that entice donors

Ed Parker
Ed Parker

The chief executive of the military charity Walking with the Wounded has said charities "slightly sensationalise" the issues they are tackling in order to fundraise more effectively.

Ed Parker said charities were competing to paint the most interesting picture to entice donors, leading to the scale of some problems becoming inflated.

He was speaking to The Times after it yesteday covered an NHS England survey that said the number of charities offering mental health care to veterans caused confusion and posed a risk to veterans that they would choose ineffective or bogus treatments rather than NHS care.

Parker said military charities had made post-traumatic stress disorder "the headline of veteran mental health" when it was actually a very small part of the problem compared with issues such as alcohol addiction and anxiety, because the idea of the condition appealed to donors and helped to raise money.

"You are always going to slightly sensationalise how you fundraise," he said.

"They do that with a Mars or McDonald’s advert. You are always going to make it look better than it actually is, or more enticing."

For example, he said, his charity was competing to be more interesting than its fellow charity for veterans Combat Stress, and in turn both were competing with Help for Heroes because all three were "fishing from the same pot".

He said he knew his remarks could open him up to criticism, but he was concerned that the way in which PTSD was used in fundraising was "getting out of hand", and there was a danger the bare facts were being lost.

Asked to comment on Parker’s claims, a spokesman for the Institute of Fundraising said: "Charity fundraisers play a vital role in highlighting issues and asking the generous public to support these causes.

"They often raise awareness of issues the public would not otherwise know about.

"No one should ever exaggerate an issue in order to raise funds and at the same time charity fundraisers should not shy away from showing and explaining the cause they are asking the generous public to support."

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