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article imageOp-Ed: War On Want and the business of charity

By Alexander Baron     Jul 8, 2012 in Business
A campaign by a major UK charity is calling for equality, justice and human rights for tea pickers.
If you want to help these good people raise money for this worthy cause, they are offering a lucrative salary plus benefits.
Remember the chuggers, the always physically attractive young girls and guys who stop you in the street and try to talk you into signing up to make a monthly donation to whatever good cause they are touting for this week? This sort of charity fund-raising is inherently dishonest, because they never but never tell their marks that the first £70, £100 or more will not be going to the charity at all but on “admin fees” mostly their own commissions. What, you thought they were volunteers?
Nobody could accuse War On Want of using such shabby tactics; they are quite open, above board and indeed up front about their outgoings.
A recent advertisement placed in a trade paper shows a woman in a field picking tea in Sri Lanka or some exotic place. She looks like the real thing rather than a model, and included in the ad is a url, waronwant dot org forward slash tea. Wouldn't you like to do something to help this poor woman? Of course you would, you'd have to be heartless not to. This is backbreaking work, but when you visit the url, what do you find?
Make a single donation
Your support today will help us challenge the root causes of global poverty and oppression
Click the button.
Become a member of War on Want and join our fight against poverty and human rights violations
We await your subscription.
Fundraise for us
Run, walk, cycle, swap, bake, party… there are lots of ways to raise money for War on Want
And send it to us.
Leave a legacy
Please consider a gift in your Will and make fighting poverty your lasting legacy
And send it to us, not to the woman in the photo holding her young son; we'll forward some of it to her after deducting our administrative charges.
Talking of which, here is the advertisement alluded to in the introduction.
£40,561 - £42,630 plus 6% pension contribution!
Wow, charity really does begin at home.
Uh oh, you've missed the deadline, it was last Friday.
It is of course not only War On Want that runs these sort of campaigns and offers these sort of pay structures, charity is after all big business, and at least unlike Clive Stafford Smith they aren't lying to the public on both sides of the Atlantic by proclaiming the innocence of rightly convicted murderers.
Some of their campaigns though are not well thought out, and are even detrimental to our interests. How about the claim that supermarkets “wield unprecedented power on a global scale...[and] force prices down around the world.”
Yes, they are actually complaining about low prices - for you, the consumer. How about instead taking on the banksters who unlike the big supermarkets don't produce or distribute anything? Reduce the cost of money first, including taxation, because lower prices benefit us all.
Supermarkets are one of the great benefactors of the common people, in the 20th and on into the 21st Century.
The good folk at War On Want are also concerned about something called decent work. Hmm, that phrase sounds familiar.
In fact, the guy and girls are so concerned about so-called decent work that in October 2010 some of them jetted off to Romania to participate in a one day conference on it.
Did anyone take any notice? More to the point, who paid for their flights and hotel bills? There is no doubt whatsoever that their hearts are in the right place, but if this is what they call charity, it is difficult not to laugh.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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