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SIMON MCINTYRE

Charity Bashing - a sport?

Charity Bashing - a sport?

Tackle a charity — pick one, any one. They don’t stand a sporting chance. Charity Bashing is like a UFC of social accountability.

20 years ago an expose was done on a, by then, old man who had started a charity that feed people, giving them hope and a chance at life. It was by all accounts quite successful in intention and endeavour. He was naive, I suppose, and did things that corporate governance would crucify him for today. But — he did something, whilst others criticised, or did nothing. A ruthless current affairs program saw a chance for blood sport. The old man consented to being interviewed. Actually it wasn’t an interview, so much as a set up, stitch up, a crash tackle. It side-lined him and his organization much to the delight of the ‘winning team’ of prosecutors and judges. All very well.

But not so. Not so for a lot of people who were no longer supported and fed. The ‘righteous indignation’ of the truth-sayers ensured this. Did they go to sleep at night thinking of hungry children? Somehow I doubt it. I’m sure their own didn’t.

We should never be surprised at mistakes and inconsistencies in any organisation. It may not excuse them, but neither is it reason for outright condemnation of the entire charity and their committed, impassioned workers. Golly — we’d all be sunk if ‘utter and total’ consistency were the only criteria.

And when we see really bad behaviour a little media restraint might be nice. Obviously those who behaved badly didn’t consider restraint, but the lives, and well being of a lot of people are jeopardised when an organisation is demonised by the wickedness of the few. Oxfam, in the UK, may never recover after the scandal, and scandal it is, of the use of sex workers in countries Oxfam was working in, with devastated communities. The public, the government losses heart and withdraws support — and sometimes for less than selfless reasons.

Human nature isn’t very encouraging at times so these sort of things will continue to happen, but to call what happened in Oxfam (for instance) pandemic is reactionary, unproductive and down right harmful to the lives of those being helped. Sure, procedures should have been more rigorous, but the difference between rigour and slaughter is still worth preserving. And even if corruption was all but instutionalised the people who are beneficiaries should not be on the butt end of a witch-hunt — in that they don’t eat.

It won’t be long before it is no longer news or fun to beat up on charities (churches included, as that is where charity came from) but the damage will be done, good will be red carded, and lives will be lost (literally).

A sport — I think not.

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