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Campaigning is ‘cost-effective way to deliver charitable objects’, CEO tells event

22 Nov 2023 News

Craig Bennett, CEO of the Wildlife Trusts

Image by: Broni Lloyd-Edwards

Campaigning is one of the most cost-effective ways that charities can deliver on their charitable objectives, an event heard last night. 

Craig Bennett, chief executive of Wildlife Trusts, was speaking at NPC’s annual policy reception yesterday.

He said that campaigning is a “critical part” of how charities can deliver their charitable purpose. 

“The roots of so many charities in this country were founded on campaigning to make a difference,” he said.

“So, if you deny the role that charities can have in campaigning to make a difference, not only do you deny the heritage of the British charity sector, you’re also denying one of the most cost-effective ways in which we can deliver our charitable objects.”

Bennett said this will be important in the lead-up to the general election next year, as charities have the opportunity to engage the public and parliamentary candidates with solutions for social issues. 

‘Best return for charitable money’

Bennett said that campaigning is a “critical part” of how charities deliver their purposes and sharing their experiences and evidence of working with beneficiaries more widely will help them “get a bigger return for our buck”.

“The idea that charities should just ‘stick to the knitting’ - as a phrase that was once used -could not be more wrong,” he said.

“Because in fact, if we just focused on delivering the practical action, though important as that is, then actually we’re not delivering the best return for charitable money. 

“Sometimes the cheapest, most effective way of delivering on our charitable objectives is through campaigning.”

‘I want charities to be big and bold’

While Charity Commission guidelines say charities cannot be party political, it does not state they cannot be political, and indeed says they have a right to campaign, Bennett told attendees. 

“I want charities, certainly over the next year, to be big and bold, taking that experience from the ground as to what works,” he said.

“I want them to get out there and get society to engage at the grassroots level, get communities involved, and make sure that all our new parliamentarians of all parties understand how important these issues are, and how we want to solve them.

“Charities really are part of the solution and more to the point, they are exercising and celebrating the role that they can play in a healthy functional democracy.”

Baroness Young introduced the event by saying that charities have a “key role” in the run-up to the election. 

She said at a time of “political atrophy” the role of the charity sector could not be more important.

“The one thing that’s very crucial is the constancy of the contribution the charity sector makes”, she said. 

Delroy Corinaldi, the co-founder of Black Footballers Partnership and a trustee of NPC, closed the event. 

Speaking to attendees, he said: “I think as a group, as an influence network, campaigning, communicating, locking in policymakers who themselves know they should you do more, but need to really have pressure put on them to do that. I think we can get somewhere.”
 

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