Saving threatened habitats worldwide

Time to distinguish between charities and not-for-profits

30 March, 2013 - 09:10 -- John Burton

I wrote the following letter in response to an article in Third Sector magazine about top level pay in the charitable sector (19 March 2013, pages 9-11).

The article on the highest earners in the sector highlights the need to tighten the rules about what types of organisation can be considered to be a charity.

It is clear that many of the organisations that pay the most would not normally be considered as charities by most members of the public – nor, indeed, by many working in the charity sector. How can the Royal Opera House and other theatres paying exorbitant fees to performers be considered the same as an animal rescue centre reliant on volunteers and donations? It is time a distinction was made between not-for-profit businesses and true charities.

Not-for-profit business should not enjoy the same privileges as charities and should be regulated in a different way. Genuine charities should be subject to stricter regulation, which might even include salary caps. There’s also a case for creating a separate regulatory regime for churches and faith organisations.

I was surprised to learn that trade bodies and housing associations had charitable status. It would be interesting to know more about public perceptions of what is and is not a charity.

The letter was published in Third Sector (26 March 2013, page 14).

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