Debate: Should charities accept donations regardless of donors' backgrounds?

Several major national charities are considering whether to accept £1m bequeathed by a convicted paedophile

PETER STANFORDchair of Aspire and director of the Longford Trust

Public trust is in short supply right now - whether it be in politicians, bankers, Catholic priests, trades unions or captains of industry. This puts the third sector in a privileged position, because we do enjoy the public's trust.

We must therefore take every precaution against losing it, up to and including exercising great care over which donors we work with. It is just not good enough to say: "It's not where the money comes from; it's the good you do with it that counts."

No donation, however urgently it is needed, should be accepted if it contradicts or compromises a charity's mission statement and the values that guide its ethical behaviour. Once your good name is lost, it is almost impossible to win it back.


SHOABAN NAIRsenior trusts, foundations and grants fundraiser at education charity SHS

We act in the best interests of children and families. Ethically, when we decide whether to accept a donation, we have to consider the motivation behind it and the effects that acceptance would have.

For a fundraiser, understanding donors' motivations is vital to generating donations. But if accepting funding is going to negatively affect the people we serve, we cannot accept it.

The financial gain would be outweighed by the fact that we would be contributing to creating an environment in which we were less able to achieve our aims.

Because of this, SHS could not accept a donation from any person or organisation that placed in jeopardy, for whatever reason, the support that children need to thrive and achieve.


ANNE KEATLEY-CLARKE, chief executive of the Children's Heart Federation

Ethical fundraising is about more than accepting money only from 'whiter than white' sources. Charity leaders need to think very hard about turning down money and should not be too prissy.

In the case of a legacy from a paedophile, I would work on the principle that everybody has a chance to repent.

For me, when considering whether to accept a certain donation, the critical point is whether the money comes with the expectation of an endorsement.

I would accept money for a charity from an unpopular source because of the good that it could achieve for the beneficiaries of my organisation, so long as it came without the requirement to endorse the work of the source - such as a tobacco company, for example.


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