When the coronavirus pandemic took hold early in 2020, charities were among the first to respond to the resulting social and economic distress. But recent scandals and a more critical climate have overshadowed the vital role they play.
What Have Charities Ever Done for Us? rebalances the debate, using case studies and interviews to illustrate how charities support people and communities, foster heritage and culture and pioneer responses to crucial social, ethical and environmental questions.
It also sets the historical context, examines cases that have attracted criticisms, analyses the political response and considers how the governance, transparency and independence of charities could be improved.
Charities at their best are the conscience of society and benefit most people at some point in their lives. This book brings to life the breadth and depth of their work and the contribution they make to social progress.
"In an age when generalised cynicism extends to charities and their donors, it is important to be reminded of the good achieved by those who set up, run and voluntarily donate their time and money to try and make things better. The charity sector is under appreciated, often patronised and rarely given sufficient credit. I hope this book helps to change that." Beth Breeze, Centre for Philanthropy, University of Kent
"This timely book describes the inter dependent web of charities and civil society organisations and the public good they bring and clearly illuminates a world that is too often misunderstood… it will help those in charities, and those who observe them, to navigate our increasingly uncertain future." Dame Julia Unwin, Civil Society Futures
"A useful and timely reminder of the many ways in which charities support the wellbeing of people in Britain, both in crisis and out of it. Packed with data, and information behind the data, on the evolution of the sector over recent decades and its condition today, a vital resource for anyone who cares about the future of charity in the UK." Gus O'Donnell, Frontier Economics and Pro bono economics
"A comprehensive sequence of deep dives into the vital contribution of charities across the UK, enhanced by a range of robust and differing stakeholder perspectives." Dame Mary Marsh, Chair of the Board of Trustees, RCPCH (Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health)
"A fascinating read about UK's vibrant and diverse charity sector’s contribution across various causes, tracing its impressive history and evolution, brilliantly capturing how charities fundamentally transform lives and continue to enjoy support of the British public". Girish Menon, STiR Education
Stephen Cook is a journalist and author with extensive experience in national newspapers and magazines, including 18 years at The Guardian. He has published five novels and two non-fiction books.
Tania Mason is a journalist, copywriter, editor and events producer with more than 25 years’ experience across various industries, most recently charities and civil society. She currently edits Governance & Leadership magazine.
Part 1: What are charities, and why do we argue about them?;
The many faces of charity;
What Has Gone Wrong?;
‘Stick to your knitting’: the curbs on campaigning;
Part 2: Changing the world;
The health of the nation;
Slavery, equality and human rights;
Rights for women and gay liberation;
Protecting animals and the natural world;
Part 3: Improving lives and communities;
Local action and self-help;
Supporting Other People;
The wider world;
Part 4: A Junior Partner in the Welfare State?;
Public service contracts;
Reducing the burden on the state;
Charities as pioneers;
Part 5: Preserving the past, preparing for the future;
Castles, canals and stately homes;
Museums: living on the edge;
Eton and the minefield of charitable education;
Pushing the Boundaries of Medicine and Science;
Part 6: The Way Ahead;
Reviews and Strategies;
Charity governance: fit for purpose?;
Coming clean with the public;
The constant threat to independence.