A national treasure

Lord Norton

44048At Question Time earlier this month, the redoubtable Baroness Trumpington asked about the practice employed by some charities of sending cash through the post.  The minister, Baroness Crawley, indicated that it was a practice to be deprecated.  Baroness Trumpington went on to ask:

“If the Government have the power to stop this objectionable practice, why do they not use it?  Would it be legal for me to put money into an envelope and send it to people with a begging letter?”

To which she received the reply:

“Baroness Crawley: ….  Would it be legal for her to send cash through the post with a begging letter?  I would not advise her to do it, but it would not be illegal.  I know that the noble Baroness is a national treasure, but she is not a national charity.”

6 comments for “A national treasure

  1. Croft
    27/07/2009 at 10:11 am

    Hmm. Another of those ministerial justifications for doing nothing that barely constitutes an argument. I have every sympathy with Lady Trumpington these begging letters are really not on and giving them several more years to continue the practice in the futile hope they will stop it themselves strains credulity.

    I remember my late grandmother receiving, to her great distress, graphic pictures of animals killed or injured from a majority charity with a pre filled in cheque. You really have to wonder at some organisations at what they think is appropriate as a means of fundraising.

  2. Bedd Gelert
    27/07/2009 at 10:27 am

    Sorry, Lord Norton, but I am not clear what is being referred to here, not being familiar with this.

    Are you referring to charities making small cash disbursements by post ? What is wrong with that, as long as the recipient is expecting it ?

  3. Senex
    27/07/2009 at 1:21 pm

    Lord Norton: “Baroness Crawley, indicated that it was a practice to be deprecated.”

    Interesting use of the word ‘deprecated’; is she responsible for giving us ‘redacted’ something else to be deplored?

    Out of interest the link below says of redacted:

    “A form of editing in which multiple sources are combined and subjected to minor alteration to create a definitive and coherent work”

    The ‘minor’ in this case being the national treasure that thought to use it in an inappropriate context just to annoy the public and further erode Parliaments good name.

    As for sending money through the post, this problem could be entirely solved by charities if they accepted an online PaySafe pin number.

    It works like this: go to your nearest PayPoint retailer, give them a printout of the PDF link below. Pay your money and they will give you a till printout with a sixteen digit number.

    Go to the charity site that accepts this form of anonymous payment and enter your pin. Alternatively, enclose the till pin number receipt in a letter to the charity; absolutely no need to send cash and its so easy to do.

    The problem with charities is that they want your name and address so they can nag you. Perhaps they are totally unaware that anonymous online giving is now possible.

    Would somebody please give them a heads up on this?


  4. lordnorton
    28/07/2009 at 8:16 am

    Bedd Gelert: I think the answer lies in Croft’s response. The recipients are not expecting it. The objection is that it is designed to shame recipients into responding. It doesn’t have quite the same impact as the sort of literature Croft refers to, but it is a practice discouraged by the Charity Commission.

    Senex: I fear it is my use of the word. Having said that, I am not someone who would normally use a word like redacted!

  5. B
    30/07/2009 at 12:53 am

    Even with all these attempts at erudition, I still don’t understand what practice is being referred to or what is problematic about it.

  6. lordnorton
    31/07/2009 at 6:23 pm

    B: Some charities send small gifts – pens, key-rings, printed address labels – when soliciting contributions. One or two include small change – for example, a ten-pence piece and a two-pence piece – stuck to the letter to encourage people to respond with a contribution. It is this practice that is discouraged. The Government take the view that it is designed to enhance the pressure on recipients to reply, in effect to induce a guilt complex, more so than the other unsolicited gifts that are sent. I treat each on its merits, regardless of the gifts enclosed.

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