Oxfam issues pose many questions and challenges for charities

on Friday, 23 February 2018. Posted in Blog Tags barrow, Barrow in Furness, blog, cancer, CancerCare, Kendal, Lancaster, localcharity, northlancashire, slynedales, southlakeland, spring

CEO of CancerCare Neil's Blog

Good Morning. At almost the end of February, it feels like spring has sprung.

Our coffee mornings are in full swing today (Friday, February 23rd) and I am looking forward to catching up briefly with our regular supporters for a chat.

My week has been one of catch-ups and attendance at various meetings.

The first was on Monday when a group of us from the Kendal Gateway met to put the finishing touches to the Gateway three year plan. We are working to ensure that the Gateway's work and mission remain complimentary to the aims of all the partner charities working in South Cumbria.

I was also able to pop into the Ambleside Drop In to say hello and wish Joan Newby a happy 96th birthday; such an inspirational lady! Sherry and Victoria sponge were the order of the day to help the celebrations.

Later in the week, I found myself in Kendal again and spent some quality time catching up with Mary Holland, one of our trustees. Mary was unable to attend the recent trustee away day due to being ill, so it was a chance to bring her up to speed with the discussions that took place.

If, like me, you have been reading the main news which has been dominated by Oxfam, the charity sector has been thrown yet again into a very un-welcome spotlight.

The Institute of Fundraising, of which we are members, has made some very clear and sensible points which I will share with you as I believe these to be correct and very applicable to all of us here at CancerCare, not least because there is wide interest from supporters, donors, clients and staff who care about the charity sector.

Firstly, it must be stated that the issue is not a “fundraising issue”. It’s about safeguarding and protecting vulnerable people, delivering services effectively, with utter transparency and accountability. All of these are hallmarks of the robust policies and procedures that we have all worked hard to establish here at CancerCare.

The question on the mind of every charity is: Will all this bad news create a negative impact on public trust and confidence?

The Institute of Fundraising believes so. In fact, very recent research it has completed with a cross section of charity supporters, demonstrates that as long as an individual charity can highlight its value, purpose and openness in ternms of how it operates, then support will remain strong.  

However, not to be complacent about this, means that our constant reflection on what we are doing, why we are doing it, how we treat staff, donors, supporters and clients, is something we should never stop thinking about and striving to be simply the best at.

It would appear that since 2015 when charities hit the headlines for the first time in a negative sense, we have been under constant scrutiny.

Not a bad thing in my eyes. It really is not a time to cry out “this is not fair” or be seen to be self-serving but to continue to speak up for what we stand for, to shout out about the amazing work we do and be proud to be part of a professional team, listening and responding to local need and maintaining high standards in all we do.

If we do this as we have for 35 years, we will not go far wrong. Despite some of the charity bashing going on I am proud to talk about what I do and who I work for.

The stunning North Wales town of Criccieth

Alan and I are having a week’s holiday next week, starting off in Criccieth at our friends Maureen and Jack’s before heading down into Shropshire for our first visit to this area, hopefully some walking (practice for the Coniston to Barrow charity walk - please do consider join team CancerCare), good food, and a chance to un-wind.

I will have the Priscilla Queen of the Desert script with me to test my lines.

Have a good weekend - blogging will resume on Friday 9th March.


Neil Townsend, Chief Executive Officer