Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 17/03/11

"Give Me Your Starving Poor, So That We Can Make A Profit Out Of Them"

I sometimes have cause to believe that it's me who's totally sane, and that it's the rest of the world that's rapidly going coo-coo.

I've just been shaken out of my early-evening nap by a telephone call. It was on behalf of one of the world's most famous charities. I won't say which one, but its name sounds like a hungry bull.

Anyway, I let the woman on the other end witter on about what that particular organisation was doing in Ethopia, all the time waiting to fend her off with my customary explanation, viz. that I do give to charities, but as one-off donations depending on the circumstances at the time.

Then, at the end of the call, she gave me a piece of information (for 'legal reasons', apparently) which caused my eyebrows to levitate. She said that she worked for a 'professional fund-raising company' (which she didn't name) which was being paid about 800 000 by said charity to raise something in excess of 3m for the organisation.

What the hell business does a charity have in handing over about a quarter of its proceeds to a company to do its cold-calling for it?

I know that said charity has what the police call 'form', however. Many years ago, my sister-in-law's mother and a friend of hers used to raise money for this same organisation. Usually, they would simply collect together what they had raised, write a cheque and send it off to their headquarters in London.

On one occasion, however, they decided - for the sake of adventure - to have a couple of days in London and hand the dosh in in person. When they got to the offices of this group, they saw plush carpets, works of art and other fripperies all over the reception area, and a general atmosphere of opulence.

Stony-faced, they handed over the cheque, turned on their heels and left and vowed never to raise a penny for that organisation again. I can't help but remember them this evening, and to think - once again - that they were absolutely right.