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Outgoing commission chair warns charities to stop obsessing over celebrity patrons – and we agree!

A warning for charities by William Shawcross, Chairman of the Charity Commission

Writing in an article for the Telegraph, longstanding chairman of the Charity Commission, William Shawcross urged charities to drop their obsession with celebrities.

He wrote: “I worry that too many large charities are too focused on chasing the next public service contract, or a bigger fundraising return, or a celebrity patron. Measuring their success simply in terms of growth.

“That is not good enough. Charities, small and large, should be lean and agile, focusing on the people they were set up to help – as well as respecting their donors.

“They should question their very existence as often as practically possible: are we making a big enough difference, are others doing what we do more effectively?

“It would be wrong – and unlawful – for the Commission as regulator to force ineffective charities to wind up or merge. It is for trustees, not civil servants, constantly to ask difficult questions about their charities’ effectiveness, and to draw brave conclusions.”

It is a message that Charity Today Executive Editor Lee Rayment agrees with, he said: “90% of the stories we get through contain a celebrity mention. I’m eager for our publication to make stars of the real charity heroes; the volunteers, the fundraisers and I would love to hear more about work the charities are doing for their beneficiaries.

“Mr Shawcross has obviously noticed this trend as well, and he is right to voice his concerns. If charities are to continue winning back the trust of the public, then they need to get back to basics.”

Mr Shawcross, 71, steps down from his role next month after five years at the helm.

Baroness Stowell of Bestow, the former Conservative Leader of the House of Lords, was chosen to replace Mr Shawcross.

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The Telegraph: Charities are too obsessed with ‘chasing celebrity patrons’ rather than helping people, warns official regulator

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