Little at large

Watch the cash shrink, and beware Hookers for Jesus

* There's a magical quality about government funds for helping charities survive the recession - they shrink before your very eyes. The latest to suffer the Paul Daniels effect is the Hardship Fund, announced in the Budget as £20m for England. Now we learn that England will get only £16.7m because the remainder has to go to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The earlier example of shrinkage was the £42.5m third sector action plan, which was subsequently diluted to £40.5m as Office of the Third Sector director-general Campbell Robb later confirmed.

Incidentally, this hasn't stopped various government departments and ministers, including the sector's own Angela Smith, from continuing to peddle the £42.5m figure. I'd get your hardship application in soon - the way things are going, it might have evaporated by Christmas.

* Think your charity has a funky name? Think again, because I'm afraid you've been thoroughly outclassed by an American organisation that does Christian outreach for women in the sex and porn industries. I think you'll agree that Hookers for Jesus expresses its mission quite succinctly.

* This could be the best volunteering gig in the country. Diabetes UK is funding a study into the potential health benefits of dark chocolate, which requires 40 women to eat two "super-strength" chocolate bars - specially created by Belgian chocolatiers - every day for a year. One guinea pig, who in the first batch of cocoa-loving volunteers, confessed wearily that "it's not really a hardship". Actually, it's not all plain sailing - to be eligible, you have to be a post-menopausal woman with type 2 diabetes. But the trial, being carried out by the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, is undoubtedly the first and only time that sitting on the sofa scoffing chocolate is likely to be classified as active citizenship.

* The Community Development Finance Association played host to "leading figures from the third sector" last month to discuss proposals to encourage banks to be more open about their activities in disadvantaged communities. Strangely, Faisel Rahman, the managing director of socially responsible lender Fair Finance, was absent, despite the fact that his organisation pioneered the public disclosure of who actually gets its loans and has called for the big banks to do the same. But Fair Finance left the CDFA last year because the umbrella body wouldn't accept an independently monitored code of practice for its members that included a disclosure requirement.

Mathew Little is a freelance writer, mathew.little@haymarket.com

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