Third Sector at Large: Spats over stats and sermons on skis? We're all ears

A Playboy Bunny, The Fundraising Standards Board, a Christian ski lodge and Sir Stephen Bubb are on our minds this week

Mark Astarita, head of fundraising at the British Red Cross and chair of the Institute of Fundraising from next month, has never been what you'd call a wholehearted admirer of the Fundraising Standards Board. Unsurprising, then, that he cast a sceptical eye over its annual report last week and noted below our web story (, 31 May) that each of the 12 complaints passed in 2010 by charities to the FRSB for adjudication cost, in effect, £34,400. This rather crude apportionment of admin costs was in turn noted by FRSB chief Alistair McLean - but only after he'd given £25 to help 'release' Astarita from the Tower of London, where he was briefly incarcerated last week as part of a fundraising stunt. Let's hope this relationship does not go downhill - not least because McLean is very big and Astarita is not.

- Talking of downhill, here's a mover with a difference - and evidence of life after accountancy. Richard Gough went to Oxford, worked as an investment manager at private equity firm 3i, became a senior finance manager at BT and then was finance director at Tearfund. Now he's left and runs something you never knew existed - a Christian ski lodge in Meribel, high in the French Alps.

- Be aware that The Sunday Times appears to be on the lookout for charity scandal stories. The editor, John Witherow, even rings Sir Stephen Bubb from time to time to pump him for leads. Bubbles, shortly to return to leading the chief executives body Acevo from his stint helping David Cameron revise his health proposals, has been known to be indiscreet. But he's also not daft.

- A Jack Vettriano collage piece called All Work and No Playboy was among the artworks by famous names that were auctioned at a ball at the Dorchester in London last week to raise money for two new operating theatres at Great Ormond Street Hospital. The auction raised a total of £130,000, which was brilliant, obviously; but some bright spark also arranged for a Playboy Bunny called Tiffany to fly over from the US to present the picture, parading about in a high-cut Roberto Cavalli costume, complete with ears, tail, etc. What can you say? A bit like Japanese knotweed - you think it's been stamped out, and up it pops again.

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