Letter to Editor, the Irish Times.
Oliver Callan’s article ‘The Season of charity guilt-tripping’ in the Irish Times (Dec 15th) conflates facts with one-liners and replaces analysis with misinformed opinion.
His allegation that charities are ‘out of control’ and ‘in urgent need of regulation’ is simply false. Strict accounting requirements, from Revenue to HSE, apply to all charity fundraising and spending. Charities actively sought the additional monitoring and regulation now provided through the Charity Regulator.
His claim that there are 24,000 charities is wrong by a multiple of three. Revenue have granted charitable tax exemption in 8,150 cases.
Charities are appalled at the rare occurrence of fraud, as alleged in the case of Console, and I have publicly and strongly condemned this type of behaviour.
His conversation with ‘one lady’ who claimed that only five cent in every euro raised ‘was used for the actual cause’ bears no link to the reality. The average is 70 cent in every euro going to the cause.
Charities do not ‘fumble in greasy tills, free from proper oversight.’ Only a fraction of charities engage in any significant fundraising and this is undertaken to maintain essential services under increasing pressure as an outcome of recession.
He complains that ‘so many services for the most vulnerable fall to charities’ and that ‘the vast majority are probably…pointless’ Health charities, for example, provide expertise, understanding and support to individuals and families that matches and regularly surpasses the state in competence and efficiency. Charities continue to be contracted by the state and its agencies to deliver vital services in health and other areas for this precise reason.
Like any other sector of society, charities are not perfect. But the vast majority of the thousands of people who work or give their time to charities day in, day out, do so out of genuine commitment and belief in a cause. The general public understand the role and contribution of the sector.
In a brief lapse into factual reality, Oliver Callan acknowledges this and that Ireland is consistently ‘in the Top 10 in the World Giving Index.’ But he has otherwise abused his considerable talents in taking a cheap shot at the very concept of giving and working for social impact and justice.