A website or guide that rates charities could be a useful addition to the sector, ministers said yesterday.
When the suggestion for a Which? Guide to Charity was mooted by an audience member at yesterday’s Conservative Party Conference fringe event on how to increase giving by the wealthy, Ed Vaizey MP nodded in agreement, adding that a ratings system should also be included. The minister for culture, communications and creative industries said: “Yes, a Which?-style guide could be helpful, possibly even one that goes a step further and provides a star rating system, like the Zagat guide.”
Zagat.com is a website that provides user-generated reviews and ratings of restaurants around the world, the idea being that the shared opinions of thousands of people will give a more accurate view than the opinions of one or two critics.
At a later event, when civilsociety.co.uk followed up the question with the panel of charity experts at Charities Aid Foundation’s Charity Question Time event, Nick Hurd, minister for civil society also said he thought this was a good idea.
“I think a TripAdvisor-style website for volunteering and giving could add value,” he said. “A place where people can tap into others’ experiences of giving time in a way that is respected and valued could be a useful service to encourage.”
Panellist Simon Tucker from the Young Foundation said he would like to see more league tables on the voluntary sector. “Speaking as a representative of the Young Foundation which founded Which? I can say that we like this kind of thing. In fact we tried to create something similar with intelligentgiving.com (pictured), which is now part of New Philanthropy Capital. This was a guide for the tabloid reader which aimed to push the conversation away from overheads and help them make smarter decisions about where to put their money.
“The serious problem is finding the funding. On the whole the sector isn’t keen on it, nor are donors. There are always problems with league tables but I think the more the better.”
Sam Younger, chief executive of the Charity Commission, questioned who would be the appropriate person to construct such a guide but accepted there is more charities could do to release data about their work and how they operate. “There is a lot of information available about charities already. However, I think we can improve this information and also improve its navigability.”