Little at Large

Richard Branson on wrong planet as charities share colours

Mathew Little
Mathew Little

- Charities got the begging bowls out to cringe-making effect when Richard Branson graced the recent Raising Funds from the Rich conference.

But the bearded one also rather misjudged his pitch to the gathering. His appearance was preceded by a five-minute ad for Virgin products, including Virgin Galactic, the project that offers sub-orbital space flights - at some point in the future - at the price of £100,000 a trip. Unless something remarkable has happened to fundraisers' salaries, I think he was probably advertising to the wrong demographic. Virgin Trains would've been nearer the mark, and even they're a bit pricey.

- Does the development charity palette change with the times? Orange has been World Vision's signature colour for a while, and ActionAid has used red. This year, Christian Aid's well-received Poverty Over campaign cunningly combined the two; and now the Oxfam Unwrapped Christmas gift brochure also features red text on an orange background. All coincidental, obviously. Is Oxfam's staple lime green on the way out?

- Former Army chief and now Tory adviser General Sir Richard Dannatt was last week among the military bigwigs to call on "extremists" (in other words, the BNP) to stop trying to hijack the British military for their own ends.

The intervention is part of the Stolen Valour campaign by the group Nothing British about the BNP, set up by two Tory activists. It's something Dannatt might like to bring up with Help for Heroes, the charity of which he is a patron and a former trustee.

The charity has been decidedly agnostic on the subject of donations from the BNP. When the far-right party promised to give it the proceeds from an Andy McNab book auction, it said it would accept money from any source provided it was legal. Nothing British has said it "strongly recommends that charities like Help for Heroes reject this sort of money".

- To be fair, Nothing British is also hosting some mixed messages on the subject. An online poll on its site on the question of whether charities should accept donations from openly active BNP members reveals that 54 per cent of visitors think they should.

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