More transparency needed in charity campaigning, panel is told

Government and public are becoming more hostile to charity campaigning, says Debbie Pippard, head of programmes at the Barrow Cadbury Trust

Barrow Cadbury Trust
Barrow Cadbury Trust
  • This story has been clarified - see final paragraph

More transparency and leadership is needed in charity campaigning to combat growing hostility to it, according to Debbie Pippard, head of programmes at the Barrow Cadbury Trust.

She was giving evidence yesterday at a session in London of the Panel on the Independence of the Voluntary Sector, a group of sector experts funded by the Baring Foundation to produce reports on factors affecting charities’ independence. The panel is chaired by Sir Roger Singleton, the former chief executive of Barnardo’s.

Pippard said the Barrow Cadbury Trust, an independent charitable foundation that supports vulnerable and marginalised people, had been criticised by the press for being part of a "pro-immigration lobby".

The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph ran stories that criticised it and other charities for setting up what the papers described as a "pro-immigration campaign lobby".

Pippard said the way the charities have been working together on migration was wrongly represented by the press and said there was increasing hostility from the government and the public to charity campaigning.

"Recent stories in the press about lobbying have also muddied the water and there’s a danger that the actions of commercial lobbyists and charitable organisations will be seen as one and the same thing and completely interchangeable, without looking beyond actions, motivations and context," Pippard said.

Pippard said that charities should voice opinions and campaign on issues but said that the sector could show more leadership, and encourage organisations to be more transparent about their activities.

The Charity Commission could also do more to help the public understand its guidance to charities on campaigning, she said.

She said charities should provide a full report of their activities when they submit their accounts to the commission. "It’s a good opportunity for charities to explain what they do and how they do it," she said.

But she said it would be too difficult for charities to say how much of their income had been spent on political lobbying.

  • The story originally said Pippard wanted the Charity Commission to make its campaigning guidance clearer.

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