Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Why so silent?

Here in the UK there has been a lot of debate recently about people giving to charity.  It all stems from the surprise changes to tax relief policy that George Osborne announced in last month's budget.  Since then the debate has raged backwards and forwards between the charity sector and government.  Over the weekend of 14th and 15th April major UK newspapers carried front page stories on the issue and the government have subsequently indicated that a public consultation on the proposals will take place this summer.

Soon after the budget announcement I made an alternative suggestion to the chancellor's proposals.  This blog post is not about that alternative idea.  If you want to read more about this please see my earlier blog post on the topic.  Suffice to say I will be submitting my idea to the promised public consultation.

Instead, the subject of this blog is the total silence from the established volunteering sector about the fact that giving isn't just about giving money.  If you've read any of the newspaper coverage, or seen the TV coverage, or engaged with online coverage you'd be forgiven for equating giving to charity with handing over cash.  Not one word has been said that people can give their time to charity as well.

"He that is of the opinion money will do everything may well be suspected of doing everything for money." - Benjamin Franklin

Regardless of whether you agree with the Give It Back George campaign (to get the government to change its mind on its tax relief proposals), surely this is a golden opportunity to talk about alternative forms of giving?  With money tighter than ever for increasing numbers of people, isn't this a great chance to talk about how organisations can benefits just as much (more even?) from somebody's time than they can their money?

I've tried, I've spoken up.  I've written blog posts, commented on article in the press, engaged in debates on social media, sent my ideas to Nick Hurd and The Office for Civil Society.

So have others.  Last week's Thoughtful Thursday discussion centred on the topic and a great debate was had.

But where are the voices of the big guns?  Why aren't we hearing or seeing bodies like CSV, Volunteering England and other UK Volunteering Forum members challenging the misconception that all giving is donating money?  Where are the Volunteer Centres on this?  What about the Association of Volunteer Managers?  What about v?

In an Olympic year where we are promised a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase the importance of volunteering to British society, I find it bizarre that almost the entire volunteering establishment seems completely silent in the face of one of the biggest news stories of the day implying that all giving is financial.

I don't get paid to speak up, I do it because I am passionate about volunteering.  Many people are paid to speak up on these issues yet their silence is notable.

Maybe we have to do it without them?

I urge everyone reading this blog to take just one action to challenge the belief that giving equals donating money.  Stand up and shout for the giving of time.

Write a letter to your local paper.

Write a letter to a national paper.

Comment on an article online.

Challenge the misconception if someone tweets it or posts it to other social media.

Do something.

If we don't it appears nobody else will.

1 comment:

  1. Slightly off the topic, but despite the global problems we face - poverty, starvation, infant mortality, oppression, civil wars, discrimination etc - the one issue that has galvanised the entire sector to work together is how we can help rich people to avoid paying more tax? Odd, no?

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