How will charities spend your Christmas donations?

Iona Bain

This Christmas, more than a quarter of Scots will spread some festive joy by giving to charity. But how do they know if their donations will make a difference?

The Turn2us No Cold Homes Campaign recently revealed that 28 per cent of Scots will give away some of their earnings this Christmas, compared to a national average of 24 per cent. Meanwhile, the Charities Aid Foundation found that 65 per cent of the Scottish population have made donations in the past year, with the figure at 62 per cent south of the border.

Yet charities have faced staunch criticism for their fundraising methods in 2015, with calls for a clampdown on aggressive marketing and so-called “chugging” (charity fundraising) in the street.

Now a row has broken out between the third sector and its latest critic, Gina Miller, as to whether the public are being misled about charitable spending.

Mrs Miller, outspoken founder of the True and Fair campaign, claimed in a report last weekend that one in five charities are spending less than half of their income on charitable activities.

Using annual reports of Britain’s biggest charities, Mrs Miller concluded that big names like the British Heart Foundation and Sue Ryder Foundation channel under 50 per cent of donations directly towards good causes when the figure should be more like 65 per cent.

 However, both charities said the figures distorted charity spending, as they did not take other sources of income, such as trading through charity shops, into account.

Fullfact, a factchecking organisation and itself a charity, said: “Looking at the ratio of charitable spending to total income doesn’t tell you much about how well-run charities are, or how effective they are at achieving their charitable goals. That’s because charities sometimes have to spend money to make money – for example, paying rent for a charity shop.”

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(Picture: Gordon Terris)

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