Oxfam: The scandal that kept on running

Editor Andy Hillier provides details of what you can read in the latest issue of Third Sector

Andy Hillier
Andy Hillier

Not so long ago, criticising charity was a bit like spitting at granny, one sector sage told me a while ago. You simply would not do it.

Now sector scandals come thick and fast. In the past two months, we have had the Presidents Club affair, followed rapidly by the shocking revelations about Oxfam and other international aid organisations. Once again, the behaviour of some charities has been found wanting.

In an exclusive article for Third Sector, Rob Wilson, the former charities minister, lays the blame for many of the sector’s recent woes at the door of a small number of big charities. All too often, he writes, they believe they’re above criticism and are too preoccupied with their image.

Peter Kellner, chair of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, was quick to call for action when the Oxfam scandal broke and, in our interview he calls for improved measures toprotect victims. Equally, though, he is wary of a "lynch-mob mentality", arguing that the response to allegations needs to be proportionate.

We also ask what will be the long-term implications of the latest scandal on the broader charity sector by reflecting on what happened after the previous crises. The data indicates that the public are more than capable of distinguishing between the actions of individual charities and the sector as a
whole, and tend to support charities through tough times – but, as sector commentators point out, that support should never be taken for granted.

Elsewhere in the magazine, we examine the thorny issue of whether charities should pay celebrities for their support and, indeed, if people believe that famous faces still influence their decision to support a cause. We also catch-up with Shelter chief executive Polly Neate about her plans for the homelessness charity.

To find out how to receive the magazine with Third Sector membership, click here.

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