Charities are outmoded institutions that have no contribution to make to modern society. What is needed are social enterprises. Discuss.
In this essay I will start by looking at definitions of both “Charities” and “Social Enterprises” before going on to look at a short history of the development of the voluntary sector in the UK. I will then move on to examine the arguments suggesting that charities have become outmoded and the perceived benefits of social enterprises as an alternative approach. In the final section I attempt to critically assess these arguments and to draw some conclusions.
Charities are essentially organisations established to provide ...view middle of the document...
Poverty and other social issues caused the newly wealthy to give generously to early charities, to the extent that by the mid-1880's the Times could boast that the income of London charities was greater than several European countries.
During this period many of the UK's best known charities were formed, including among others - Barnado's, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), and the Salvation Army.
Despite the large amounts of money raised, concerns over the shortcomings of this charitable giving soon became apparent. Questions regarding the efficiency of such charitable donations caused lively debate and led people to design new ways to try and maximise the impact such charitable giving had in tackling the social and economic issues of the time.
The Charities Commission was formed in 1853 and was the first step towards a more coherent national policy of supporting the work of charities. It had the power to impose sanctions in cases of abuse and to change trust deeds and endowments which had become irrelevant due to the passage of time.
Over time the failure of charities to really address poverty and other social problems became apparent and many fell into disrepute. Furthermore, society's own failures to find manageable solutions did a great deal to convince the wealthier middle classes of the need for state intervention in key policy areas like social welfare, education and care of the elderly.
The eventual culmination of this was the establishment of the Welfare State by the post Second Wold War Labour Government. This resulted effectively in the takeover by the Government of many services previously provided almost entirely by voluntary organisations and posed serious questions as to the role of charities in the modern era. Discussions focussed on the need to protect but also modernise ancient trust deeds and endowments, and on the role of charities in delivering services in the future and formulating new solutions to social problems. The 1960 Charities Act established the Central Register of Charities and relaxed the rules regarding changing and up-dating charitable purposes which in turn allowed ancient bequests and endowments to have contemporary use, whilst still hopefully respecting the wishes of the founder.
Alongside the development of the charity movement the last century also witnessed the formation of a number of early social enterprises, the most common forms being credit unions, employee owned companies, co-operatives and housing associations.
Since the 1980's charities themselves have begun to use social enterprise activities as part of their fundraising and the important role of fundraising has developed and become much more professional. In 1983 the Institute of Charity Fundraising Managers (ICFM) was established to promote the work and practice of professional fundraisers. This development coupled with its scope...