Many moons ago, an article in Third Sector Magazine discussed the need for more competition within the Charitable Sector.  The jist of Joe Saxton’s column was, competition is good for companies, smaller charities have lower overheads, and merging charities is rarely a sensible idea.  All this makes sense, but for me there are two major issues:

  1. People usually start charities because they have been affected by something, rather than because the cause needs support.
  2. Very few people “shop around” when it comes to charities.  People donate to and shop at the most convenient charity shop, they support causes that are very well known to them, and they don’t look into how effective and efficient charities are.

Macmillan Cancer support (like all charities) submits information to the Charity Commission every year.  In 2015, they spent £65.58 million on “Generating Voluntary Income”, initially that seems like a ridiculously large amount.  However, their voluntary income was £214.9 million, so maybe that’s actually a really good return? How does one know whats good and whats bad?

This is where my master plan came in!  An easy to use comparison for charities.  How has no-one thought of this before?

Albany Road in Roath is home to 11 charity shops along half a kilometre of road.  The perfect (maybe) density of stores to drive healthy competition.  The contenders are:

  • Barnardo’s
  • British Heart Foundation
  • British Red Cross
  • Cardiff YMCA*
  • Greyhound Rescue Wales*
  • Oxfam
  • PDSA
  • RSPCA (Cardiff & District Branch)
  • Scope
  • Tenovus
  • Ty Hafan

I chose seven categories for comparison:

  • Expenditure on charitable activities
  • Other expenditure
  • Trading profit margin
  • Average** price of books
  • Average** price of DVDs
  • Average** price of mens Shirts
  • Average** price of miscellaneous “tat”

After some time with spreadsheets I came out with these results***:

Charity Competition

There are loads of other categories I could have looked into (maybe I will some time).  For the time being I think these results show a quite interesting difference between charities, maybe its worth walking a few extra meters to shop or donate.

Until next time, if you want to, well I don’t even know what I’ve shown here, but, hire me?

*Accounts do not show suitable level of detail for comparison

**Average of highest and lowest priced item on display

*** Results are based on the most up to date accounts submitted to the Charity Commission and the prices of items on 06/05/2017 ignoring any special offers.