Society Diary: 'Hunky' firefighters plus cute animals is a winning fundraising formula

11 Oct 2019 Voices

Would these cuties be able to raise more money for charity if they were accompanied by a "hot" firefighter?

Happy Friday readers! Who could have predicted that the biggest news of the week would be #WagathaChristie? 

In case you’ve missed it, Coleen Rooney, wife of former England captain Wayne Rooney, revealed through detective work that had tabloid hacks dripping with envy, that she had smoked out the person responsible for sharing details from her private Instagram. 

“It was Rebecca Vardy’s account,” she announced dramatically. Jaws dropped around the nation and, because this is 2019, soon the internet was awash with memes.

All this forced Vardy, wife of Leicester player Jamie Vardy and fellow WAG, to cancel her holiday and hire lawyers to forensically investigate her Instagram account (sidebar: if you can’t remember who you have shared your password with that is probably too many people).

There’s a very tenuous charity angle here, in that Diary has spotted just one charity taking advantages of the social media discussion: well done Anthony Nolan (we think).

Does this mean memes are over? Or are charities just too busy helping people to have spotted.

Anyway expect a 5,000-word long-read in due course about what charities can learn from this. People will be queuing up to write this piece. 

Anyway onto the point of this column, namely, this week’s hottest (and cutest) charity gossip. 

'Hunky firefighters pose with cute animals for a charity calendar' 

Time for some charity news from Down Under. Diary stumbled on some excellent charity/animal content (we say stumbled, Diary has Google alerts set up to ensure that no cute animal content from the sector is missed), which also happens to include “hunky firefighters”. 

So in the name of investigative reporting, Diary has delved deep into this year’s Australian Firefighters Calendar, which features 12 firemen accompanied by cute animals such as kittens, ducklings and a koala (all together awwwwhhhh). Sales of the calendar will go to support a range of charities.

Unsurprisingly this is quite a successful fundraising technique and has raised over AUS$3m since its launch some 27 years ago.

Fires must be different in Australia, because instead of layers of protective gear, the firefighters are kitted out in just a pair of trousers and breaches. Or maybe they just couldn’t afford t-shirts, in which case maybe raise some money for the uniform before raising funds for charity?

Diary wonders if this minimalist uniform could be one of the reasons that there appears to be no women in the Australian Fire Department? 

But we digress. The point of this story is that there are lot of photos of cute animals raising money for charity, and we’re very much here for the animal and charity content. 

The Sun is just one of a number of news outlets have the full gallery and behind the scenes video.  

An unexpected guest

Speaking of animals in unusual places, delegates at yesterday’s Charity Finance Summit were greeted by an unexpected guest, as a small, dark grey mouse somehow found its way into the auditorium. 

Quite how it found its way into an apparently very modern events venue is unclear, as was whether it had paid its entry fee. 

Also unclear was its motives. Could it be possible that it was seeking help getting to grips with the government’s IR35 legislation? Or spreadsheet modelling? Perhaps more plausibly, one attendee suggested that it had been dislodged by the Crossrail digging work at nearby Liverpool Street Station.

Charity finance folk are a hardened bunch, and while the mouse’s presence caused a little commotion, it ultimately did not stand in the way of the audience’s CPD, despite being present somewhere in the room for the entire afternoon.

A more popular animal was to be found in the exhibition area, where a herd of zebra had taken up residence.

Ok, so these were stuffed toys brought by the fund management firm Investec, but they were certainly in demand, and were proclaimed by one attendee as the winner of the “best exhibition stand freebee to take home and give to your kids”. 

Diary can’t help but wonder if Investec’s generosity was being taken advantage of however – in the space of 10 minutes, we spotted four such animals being snapped up not by charity delegates but by fellow exhibitors and someone from Civil Society Media itself!

At least the zebras were anatomically correct. HMRC, in an otherwise quite helpful and reassuring session on Making Tax Digital, presented delegates with a graphic involving a six-fingered hand.


Now there’s absolutely nothing wrong with polydactylism, and in fact it is surprisingly common, with incidence in one in every 500 births. 

But if polydactyls are the key to complying with HMRC’s fiendishly challenging Making Tax Digital initiative, then they are going to be in some demand, and their day rates are surely going to be unaffordable for all but the wealthiest charities.

And if they are using personal service companies to administer their work, then the Summit’s charity delegates may fall foul of IR35 after all.

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