Documentary highlights sector's success in 2005

The voluntary sector has had an exceptional year. That's the almost unanimous verdict of commentators interviewed for a forthcoming documentary.

In The Year We Changed, which will be screened on the Community Channel on Boxing Day at 8pm, a line-up of charity representatives and others are asked if they think the events of the past year have changed public attitudes to giving.

One of the contributors, NCVO's head of research Karl Wilding, told Third Sector: "2005 was an extraordinary year in terms of how often we were asked to give."

Imogen Ward, director of fundraising at Merlin, agreed. "It's phenomenal that the Pakistan earthquake appeal was the Disasters Emergency Committee's third biggest appeal ever, less than a year after the tsunami," she said.

The programme also examines the impact of the Make Poverty History campaign.

Research conducted by MPH found that more than half the people who attended the Edinburgh rally had not taken part in any campaigning activity in the previous year, indicating that the event attracted large numbers of new activists.

Philippa Hunt, an MPH campaigner, said: "The campaign has shown that, when public support is mobilised, world leaders do act."

Wilding warned that charities should not take the generosity of the public for granted if long-lasting change is to come about.

However, political columnist Peter Oborne said he believed that, although there had been "a wonderful upsurge in giving", 2005 saw big charities get too close to government. "Make Poverty History's collaboration with government discredits charities and makes people suspicious of their motives," he said.

- See Hot Issue, page 25, and Review of the Year, page 30.

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