Communications 2008: our top stories of the year

Volunteering was declared geeky, charities caught the rebranding bug and the House of Lords' favoured charities were revealed. Tristan Donovan looks back at third sector communications during 2008.


Charity campaigning advice revised

The Charity Commission published its revised guidance on political campaigning in March, warning that political activity must not dominate charities' work.

The guidance also said trustees should take steps to maintain their charities' independence when they worked with politicians.

But Greg Clark, then shadow charities minister, said the guidance opened the door to "political pressure groups becoming charities".

See: New campaigning guide published; New guidance 'seriously misleading', says Clark

Confusion over public trust in charities

Public trust in charities was another hot issue of 2008, with a variety of conflicting claims and no firm conclusions in sight.

One poll, released by nfpSynergy in March, suggested trust in the third sector had hit a new low during 2007.

But another survey, this time by the Charity Commission in May, found public trust was rising.

See: Trust in charities slips to new low, says latest research; Involvement and trust 'increasing'

Volunteering untrendy, says v

Government-funded youth volunteering charity v decided the term volunteering had negative connotations for the nation's teenagers.

To help overcome the "geeky" image of volunteering, v announced in September that it planned to start talking about getting young people to do "favours" instead.

See: Analysis: why v is ditching the work 'volunteering' and using an 'f' word in its place


It was also a year of rebrands. NCH became Action for Children, Christian disability charity Grooms-Shaftesbury became Livability, the Catholic Children's Society revealed plans to become Cabrini and youth charities Rainer and Crime Concern merged to become Catch22.

But not every name change went smoothly, with both Action for Children and Catch22 facing flak from other charities with similar names.

See: Grooms-Shaftesbury is rebranded as Livability; NCH to rebrand as Action for Children;
Rainer and Crime Concern announce new name; Catch22: youth charity draws flak for 'puzzling' name change

Access to Parliament

Details of charity employees with access to Parliament also came to light in 2008.

A total of 48 charities, including the RSPB and gay rights organisation Stonewall, had been granted at least one Parliamentary pass by a member of the House of Lords, allowing them access to the corridors of power.

The revelation prompted calls for a more transparent and fairer system of giving passes to the third sector.

See: Lords access: 'it's who you know'


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