Is it not time that we know just where all our charitable donations go?

So just how much has changed since the CRC board and their CEO have resigned? The need to reform the entire charity sector is still the ultimate goal but the frenzy and hysteria that surrounded the CRC issue seems to have created nothing else.

While our charity sector is an important player in a multiplicity of arenas stretching from health, famine, third world development, homelessness, soup kitchens etc. etc. delivering much needed services at home and abroad the funding of it is unclear and its regulation elusive.

The CRC was a headline act with the focus on top up payments a very clear single issue. The idea that these top ranking management were not asked to endure a salary reduction as most near everyone else has been over the past five years is a scandal but hides or masks the bigger issues in the charity sector.

The Irish state has a sad and bad history of allowing “charities” to deliver services which the state does not want to deliver nor take the responsibility for itself.  The industrial schools and magdalene laundries are two such examples where “services” were provided by these charities and payments made by the state.  A blind eye was consistently turned to finances, conditions, treatment and justice for individuals within these services once the state payment was handed over.  Other income streams were ignored within them and how this money was spent and on whom conveniently forgotten.

That same mentality exists today, this country is awash with charities, awash with money sloshing around and no control evident.

A mantra is chanted at us not to give cash, not to support people begging on our streets, we are asked to give to recognised charities, with a sub text that they will use it better!!

But do we know where this money actually goes, how is it spent, what percentage of our donations are used in the services that we want to support.????

Look at the bucket collectors, who shake those buckets under our noses, how much of that money gets into the Charities funds? How many payments are made to the “volunteers”, is it expenses only or a percentage of the collection? Flag sellers, lines sold for prizes, who gets the line money? Who wins the prizes? Look at the recycling units dotted around the country, with a charities name on its side. My belief is that many of these see private companies creaming off the revenue with a small proportion of the funds actually getting into the charities funds. Think of the standing order or Direct Debit that goes out of your account to charities every month, who does this pay? Who is employed in these charities? How are they appointed? Who controls the bank accounts? Who answers to the tax man? How many charities do we have operating? Does anybody control them? I suspect that millions and millions of euro are floating around in this industry, these are the questions that need to be answered.

The legacy of the CRC story should be that every charity should come under scrutiny, that we should have a transparent money flow, that the services provided should take priority but I fear that all of this will be lost as the soundbite and the headline takes precedent.

So please Shane Ross, John McGuinness et al you have the ability to do some lasting good here, please don’t misuse the power that you have.

We need to follow the money trail, we need to stop misusing the publics good nature and the state has to step up and take responsibility for the service itself and those charities delivering these services.

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