INSTITUTE OF FUNDRAISING: MEMBER VIEWPOINT - Research it first - you may not agree with the object of your charity

Richard Mountford, MInstF(Cert), development manager, Animal Aid

People often assume that all charities are worth supporting, and that non-charities are not in need of support. The assumption that all charities are worthwhile frees people to support them without question, without having to do any research. However, this may not be a wise standpoint, as whether something is worthwhile or not is often subjective.

I work for Animal Aid, which campaigns, among other things, against animal experiments, on both moral and scientific grounds.

I would never give money to certain medical research charities, including many of the big names, because they experiment on animals.

In fact, were it my decision, I would deny them charity status.

Other groups that help animals, such as the Vegetarian Society, are registered charities, which is right, as they are promoting a healthy and humane lifestyle.

Other people, such as butchers perhaps, might feel that vegetarian campaigning is endangering their livelihoods, and would probably prefer the Vegetarian Society not to have charitable status.

Another obvious contradiction in the charity realm is the fact that private schools have charitable status, while the more seemingly altruistic Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth do not.

One factor that prevents worthwhile organisations from applying to be charities is that they would then be prevented from political campaigning as their main activity.

To put it more bluntly, a charity that deals with the suffering caused by injustice, animal exploitation, global warming or poverty, may not be allowed to try to prevent the injustice from happening in the first place. Therefore, it is sometimes better to support a non-charity.

- The Institute welcomes Viewpoint articles from its members. Please email the membership manager (Membership@institute-of-fundraising.org.uk).

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