MPs attack charities’ adspend

MPs have blasted major charities for spending too much on advertising and marketing to the detriment of service delivery.
The criticism came late last week as the Public Administration Select Committee was convened to discuss the future of funding for voluntary sector organisations and the role of charities in David Cameron’s much-vaunted big society.
Charlie Elphicke, Conservative MP for Dover and Deal, said he believed some charities, such as Shelter and the NSPCC, spent too much on advertising and campaigning compared with what they spent on service delivery. Meanwhile, Charles Walker, Conservative MP for Broxbourne, said he was tired of receiving campaigning emails from charities.
In response, Marie Curie Cancer Care chief executive Thomas Hughes-Hallet said he believed donors were tired of daily newspaper ads and that the amount some large charities spend on advertising is a cause of “very real concerns”.
He warned: “Donors are getting tired of seeing advertisements in papers every day. The public will catch you out eventually. I have very real concerns about the level of spending on advertising by some of the large charities. However, there has to be some advertising.”
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, told the committee that campaigning was sometimes an important part of charities’ activities.
But he urged charities to be transparent with their spending. He said the best charities used the knowledge they gained from providing services to influence policy.
Etherington told MPs that developing an electronic rather than paper-based system for administering Gift Aid was crucial way.
“The system is still very cumbersome,” he said. “A more effective Gift Aid scheme would see more giving. If you recommend nothing else, it should be to improve Gift Aid.”
Meanwhile, speaking before the committee hearing, Etherington had called on bankers to give their bonuses to charity in order to set an example and provide a “shot in the arm for the voluntary and community sector”.

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