Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Charity of the Year Awards

16 January, 2012 - 09:56 -- John Burton

As my long-term readers know I am not a great fan of awards and the Charity of the Year Awards is among my pet dislikes. This is because while entry is free (for these awards at least), it costs £2,100 (plus VAT) for a table of 10 for the winners to attend the awards. Is this the best way of spending donors’ money? 

I gritted my teeth when I read the write up for the 2011 Awards (held at the London Park Lane Hilton last October) and then read that the winners’ CEO (Parkinson’s UK) said: “We really didn’t expect this award at all, but it was a real shock and honour when we did.”  So why book a table to attend awards which you don’t even expect to win? (I presume they didn’t know in advance that they were the winners).

But more annoying is the fact that in Charity Times the report does not give any real facts and figures. There were photographs of all the winners, and their teams, but no reason why they won. Samaritans apparently had the Best use of the Web, but what this actually meant, how it was rated, and how it was judged is not given. Halton Haven Hospice was given the best ‘Corporate Community Local Involvement’ award, but no details of how this was achieved, or why they were so much better than dozens of other charities. Build Africa was announced the best charity to work for, but how was this decided? And so it goes on.

There is always a risk that the public will take such awards seriously, thinking that they are awarded on a fair assessment or that the awarding body has some sort of authority, and that therefore ‘such and such’ a charity really is better than another one operating in the same area.

The public does not realise that the reason Charity A got awarded a prize was because it spent a lot of time applying and spent money on going to the awards ceremony. The fact that charities B, C and D did not, meant that they were not recognised even though they were excellent charities (and who knows, possibly ‘better’). I am sceptical about the value of awards in the charity sector and cynical about the way they are made.

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Comments

Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

But I wonder if this sort of shin-dig isn't going to rapidly become a thing of the past?
Expensive jollies at high-falutin' venues like these awards? Let's see whether the next twelve months sorts some of the wheat from the chaff in the charities sphere when budgets across the board get really squeezed.
I've already heard of one - formerly well established - charity (a specialist medical one) having to call it a day, and close down due to wholesale loss of funding.

Win all the awards your mantlepiece can hold, but unless your supporters stand by you because you're performing useful, worth-while functions, and doing it efficiently, it won't amount to a heap of beans.

Submitted by anne gray on

All profits from the grand dinners go presumably to safeguard the endangered habitat of big hotels in London. There is someone whose paid job it is to encourage "charities" to host these big society dos. A weird world. but you knew that already!

Submitted by anne gray on

This is the business of saving another sort of endangered habitat. Big hotels in Central London
!

Submitted by anonymous chari... on

So just read this after I was going to write my own thing about charity awards. Agree with you all. One thing I like to add was that when I replied to X charity awards saying we could not attend as we couldn't afford it this year. Interestingly we were basically removed from the shortlist altogether. yay.

Submitted by John Burton on

Dear Anonymous charity.
It would be good to know more about this aspect. It would also be good if all charities boycotted awards that simply line the pockets of big hotels. Perhaps a national newspaper could sponsor an award, with no prize money, an open evaluation process, and independent judges.....

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