24 May 2011

Big Society Review

The Big Society was relaunched by Cameron yesterday, a white paper enshrining a lot of the principles we have been hearing about.

Reforming Third Sector Giving

The proposals for Charitable Giving are really interesting. Online advertising on Government sites (no information yet on whether this will accrue pin money), cash machine donations and round-a-pound promotions.

However, a lot of people resent Paypal's thrusting of charity donations down your throat when you bag a bargain on eBay, preferring to do auctions for donation through eBay Charity. It would be interesting to study the psychology in giving online and compare it to people who give elsewhere.

The round-a-pound sounds like a good one, a technological modernisation of donation pots. But which charities? Will charities be encouraged to embrace partnerships with organisations to engage with consumers? Tesco only round up to Barnados for example? Are we in danger of increasing competition and further favouring big charities?


While we should be promoting volunteering, nay-sayers are crying that volunteers will be used in substitute for paid roles.

If, and its a strong 'if', this is the case, then the act should seek to reinforce employment rights for volunteers.

Volunteers are not under any real obligation to work in this capacity, and any service that thinks it can rely on the charity of others will be wrong.

We will also risk these volunteers being bullied, discriminated against and abused without any redress. I am sorry to say the Big Society white paper does not counter these claims.


One obscure proposal is for philanthropists to be honoured. Philanthropy UK has clearly done some effective lobbying to get a huge grant in the paper to assist the development of chairities.

But with the new 'honours' system (is the OBE no longer enough?), are we not rewarding the wrong people? Surely it is the droves of required volunteers, the Joe Bloggs, who give up their time, whom we should be honouring, not a 'well done for being rich' scheme?

Other than that, I like it!
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