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War on Want - should it keep its charitable status?

WoW has had its knuckles tapped by the Charity Commission in the past, most recently over its anti-Israeli campaigning. Albeit in a rather pathetic manner. Waters have been muddied more than somewhat by the Charities Act 2006, which broadens out what qualifies as a charity, and rather bizarrely, vis a vis 'public benefit', "In determining whether that requirement is satisfied in relation to any such purpose, it is not to be presumed that a purpose of a particular description is for the public benefit." Meaning, it would seem, that a charity can do pretty well anything it likes in terms of specific actions without having to worry about 'public benefit' so long as it claims to be doing something charitable on its letterhead.

This is by no means of mere abstract interest, as quite apart from we the taxpayers funding this indirectly through its charitable status, the Department of International Development and the EU also give it money. As does the wretched National Lottery. As with most of these holier than thou NGOs, there is, naturally, no balance sheet information available on its website, so I cannot say to what extent we are hosing down WoW with money.

So, what does it get up to? Here are its current campaigns:

'Fighting the root causes of poverty' - By opposing free trade, and instead supports 'fair trade'.

So, comrades, care to tell me how prices should be set if not through the mechanisms of supply and demand?

'Challenging corporate power' - 'The globalisation of the world’s economy means corporations have gained more and more power. Too often, multinational companies harm local communities, damage the environment and violate workers’ rights in the course of doing business'.

As after all, people in the developing world really want to be subsistence farmers / hunters & gatherers and are rounded up at gun point and forced to work for multinationals, are they not?

'Making a Killing: Corporations, Conflict & Poverty' - 'Multinational corporations are complicit in wars throughout the world, putting profit before people and often legitimising and fuelling the conflict'.

Because presumably third world rulers are helpless children who have no choice when it comes to buying arms or waging wars, do they?

Israel - it wants the barrier on and around the Green Line removed. Who cares about suicide bombers? They are only Jews, aren't they? And it wants sanctions against Israel. It does not appear to be campaigning against those wet liberal democracies of Burma, Cuba, Zimbabwe, the 'People's Democratic Republic' of Korea etc etc etc.

'Western Sahara: 30 Years is Enough' - It supports independence for the Saharawi of Western Sahara from Morocco. I'm not too upset about this one.

'Privatisation'. It does not like it. Fancy.

Does any, or all of this smack of politicking, and how do you feel about your money going to this organisation?

I may well have a look at Oxfam and other organisations with charitable status later.
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Blogger Peter Hitchens said... 1:58 pm

now this was going to be subject for this evening
just how many "charities" actually do nothing other than keep themselves going for the benefit of the staff and just how many are actually state funded Bernardos for example 95% state funded , they dont run care homes anymre so WTF?
scope the "spastic" society shut its homes , and now concentrates on "campaigning"  

Blogger CityUnslicker said... 2:19 pm

sad as it is, I think PH is broadly correct.

I see too many job advertisements as now for the voluntary sector (an oxymoron surely?). The move to professionalise itself means that they organisations view themseleves as companies more than public sector (public benefit) organisations.

All of this activity has led to a huge fall in philanthropy in the UK which is itself a sad turn of events; less people giving because they are unsure as to whom will benefit.

the recent government legislation is not surprisingly very open to interpretation; no need to upset definite labour voters, eh?  

Anonymous Darcy Dancer said... 2:58 pm

While I broadly agree with what you're saying, there has been at least one instance where 'corporate power' has needed to be challenged on behalf of people who did want to remain as hunter-gatherers: the San of the Kalahari who were forced off their land by the De Beers-encouraged government to make way for diamond mining. Despite lobbying from De Beers and their friends (including the repellent Baroness Tonge in the House of Lords) the San managed to get a ruling from the High Court in Gaborone which allowed them back onto their land.  

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