Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Annual comment on Charity Awards

4 August, 2010 - 14:35 -- John Burton

I have no objection to awards per se, particularly if they are from peer groups, who can actually judge excellence. That applies to individuals as well as organisations. But I don’t have a lot of time for awards dished out either for money or by dissimilar groups competing with each other.

Now is the time of the Third Sector Excellence Awards, where awards (with no cash attached) are dished out for applicants as dissimilar as the Nursing Film Archive, City YMCA, Afrikids, Beatbullying and the RSPB. How is the award for the Best Marketing Campaign agreed? Presumably since it does actually have a measurable outcome, it is simply a case of seeing how much WWF spent on their tiger campaign against how much came in, and comparing it with the campaigns of RSPB, Red Cross, Centrepoint and the others entered.

However, this seems to be one of the few awards where there is a quantifiable outcome; similarly the Award for Charity Trading can be based on the Annual Accounts. But nearly all the others are clearly subjective, and I really don’t think it possible to evaluate disparate organisations for awards for 'Corporate Partnership' or Best Employer. Let alone 'Best Communications Campaign' or 'Brand Development', all of which are not only highly subjective, but likely to depend very much on the background of the 27 judges (who are not specified on the website), and their persuasiveness.

But who actually foots the bill for this awards event? It costs the charities up to £230 a person to be present at the awards the awards (or £135 per person, no wine and book very early before you know who is in the shortlist). I doubt that many donors to charities will be over enthusiastic about their favourite charity spending their money on going along to such events – which can't really even be justified as good for 'networking'. And even applying for such awards costs time, and time in this instance is probably time that could have been spent on applying for grants.

Continuing my themes  of comparisons being made between apples and oranges,  Third Sector Magazine, this week  (3 August), published a report on charity giving, comparing the results from different newspapers and magazines. But how can such results have any real meaning? It's not even comparing apples with oranges. It's actually comparing tigers with god. Comparing street kids with art galleries..

As per usual, views, comments alternative suggestions always welcome (and corrections if I have got anything factually incorrect).


Submitted by Dominic Belfield on

So maybe the take-home message is simple, then.

If you wanna feel good – spray your money around at the loudest shouter, the cuddliest teddy-bear, the most tear-inducing symphatho-image.

If you want to do some good…. Then hold back a while. Do some research. And choose very, very carefully.

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