Never mind Kids Company — we need a debate on NGO funding
What to say about the Kids Company fiasco?
Is this the downfall of Cameron’s Big Society ethos — or just a collection of anecdotes?
It’s difficult to know yet because we don’t know the whole story yet — but one thing is sure, there’s a need for a proper debate about NGO funding. Is an NGO still an NGO where a massive part of their funding is done by the state. Charities are a primordial part of any society — but nobody exactly knows when a charity become a para-public organisation. Lobbying is a very human thing to do when you receive public funding or you want to keep it. Too often does lobbyism in the political sphere sadly become an excuse for rent-seeking or for cronyism.
That’s the big problem with NGO, when they have voluntary funding, they are accountable to those giving to the organisation — but when taxpayers are paying them indirectly, they will sooner or later have their books checked either by the government or by the media. The other problem is also when one NGO is touched, the whole sector will have collateral damage from this bad press. No doubt that especially since a thing called the Internet was invented — charities must be careful not to overpay their executives.
The question of NGO funding was a significant debate for years in international development (and it’s still a big debate) which had made many people morose about international development. Cases like Kids Company will import this same debate inside western countries. Sooner or later, there is a need to have this debate — if a government wants to fund NGO which conditions will there be?