Third sector at large: When push comes to shove, it's the giving that counts

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Civil Society and Volunteering, hot-phoning and the Public Fundraising Regulatory Authority are on our minds this week

- What was the big attraction that caused huge queues to get into Parliament last Wednesday? Many of those wanting to go to the meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Civil Society and Volunteering were caught up in the mayhem: there were furious tweeting, arguments with police officers, even a shouted accusation about "the sector being marginalised, yet again". But so packed was the meeting when all had arrived that it seemed quite possible the cause of the crush was the event itself - Beth Breeze, Karl Wilding and Matthew Bowcock talking about 'incentivising giving'. Yowza!

- Our correspondent, Gail Cookson, reports a particularly flagrant episode of direct-mailing the dead. The previous owner of her house had died 12 months before she moved in five years ago, and a year later a large charity mailed the deceased about a prize draw. She told it the bad news; it responded by sending two more packs to him. So much for all those smart databases. "The irony," says Cookson, "is that the previous owner of the house had founded the Advertising Standards Board of Finance to pay for advertising self regulation."

- You've heard of hot-desking, but what about hot-phoning? Times are hard at Volunteering England since it lost more than a million pounds in strategic partnership funding from the Office for Civil Society - so hard that you now have to leave a message for both Mike Locke and Alan Strickland on the same voicemail.

- A press release finds its way to Third Sector to say that the healthy living social enterprise Mend and the private healthcare company Bupa has organised children from Tower Hamlets schools to "set a new Guinness World Record for the most people playing hopscotch simultaneously alongside Bupa chief executive Ray King and Tower Hamlets co-director of public health, Esther Trenchard-Mabere". Could you rephrase that, please?

- The Public Fundraising Regulatory Authority, a model of transparency, has decided, rather unusually, to bar the press from part of its annual meeting at the end of the month. What's the big secret? The chief executive's salary going into six figures? Hmm, probably not. Disastrous research about chugging? The At Large crumpled fiver is, as ever, on offer ...

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