New Philanthropy Capital: wrong on donkeys… wrong on domestic violence

On a mission to help us all ‘get smart about giving’ New Philanthropy Capital feigned shock this week at the non-revelation that Britons give more to the donkey sanctuary than the top three charities tackling domestic violence.

New Philanthropy Capital aims to make a living – albeit in a not-for-profit manner – helping us donate our money more sensibly. New Philanthropy Capital aims to professionalise charitable giving.

But it’s hard to see that this is such a good idea, especially as the handy Charity Selector reveals a very narrow definition of a worthy cause; something domestic that can be pigeon holed into community, education or health.

A point missed, surely, is that people make charitable donations from their personal resources – monies they might otherwise quite reasonably spend on trivial things – on causes that somehow touch them. And if that’s donkeys, fair enough.

Of course, there may well be a role for New Philanthropy Capital in the corporate world, but even here the promotion of charity as not-so-altruistic investment is not particularly attractive.

Democratic accountability becomes an issue as powerful private sector institutions become more professional about the way they give and seek to become ever more involved in what and how the voluntary sector delivers. We already have at least one creationist school thanks to this kind of philanthropy.

There are still some areas where the state should lead, like protecting the victims of domestic violence and helping them rebuild their lives. Tending retried donkeys, on the other hand, might more reasonably be left to charity.

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