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Sporting ‘charity’

No, this isn't a post about Sport Relief.

It's about something I encountered in the Tavistock branch of Somerfield on Saturday. Occasionally in supermarkets, garden centres etc you see teenagers packing shopping in return for a donation to charity. Good idea, fair enough.

These kids weren't doing it for charity though. They were doing it to fund an overseas tour for their rugby union club. Or to put it another way, they wanted me to pay for their holiday.

I didn't actually say anything because I’m basically shy.

But in the two parallel universes where I speak my mind, I would have said one of two things:

1. There are lots of good causes in the world worthy of my charity. Sending middle class kids abroad to play rugby union is not one of them.

2. F**k off.



( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 23rd, 2010 10:05 am (UTC)
Not sure I see the problem... if I've understood you correctly, they weren't asking for donations, they were offering a service you could pay for if you wanted it. In other words, they were /working/ to pay for their holiday. Dunno about you, but that's exactly what I do! - Neuromancer
Mar. 23rd, 2010 11:56 am (UTC)
If they had actually been packing shopping, I you might have a point. However, what they were doing, was standing either side of the *entrance* to the shop, shoving buckets at people who came in. Although the sign said 'pack your shopping' or something along those lines, what they were *doing* was taking a collection.

It was a terrible location for anyone to actually want their shopping packed too, as it's a small supermarket in the town centre. Although it has a car park, it's a small multistory and the lift is broken, so people who shop there are mostly people who have popped in to get a couple of bagsworth of bits and pieces and intend to walk out with their bags, not people getting a week's shopping in for a family. They only have 2 full sized tills, most of them are little basket ones.

Plus there is the whole 'if I were drawing up a shortlist of people to pack my shopping, 15 year old boys would not be at the top of my list of packers' issue... Which is admittedly pure prejudice, but they looked like banana-bruisers to me!

On the whole, I concur with philmophlegm's assessment.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 10:06 am (UTC)
I suppose that they could argue that they're offering to do a little work in order to fund their holiday, which would be reasonable.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 10:49 am (UTC)
Yeah, but the service they are offering is essentially nominal. After all, some supermarkets pack your bags for you anyway as part of the service. And what they are asking for is rather more than nominal. I suspect that they have to do it this way (i.e. with a nominal service) because just asking for money would count as begging.

If they are prepared to do some proper work on a commercial basis (like the old Scouts' 'Bob-a-Job' week) to raise money, I have absolutely no problem with it. But doing it this way dresses it up as charitable when it is no such thing.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 01:28 pm (UTC)
Charities Act 206 defines thirteen descriptions of activities which are deemed charitable - http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/Charity_requirements_guidance/Charity_essentials/Public_benefit/charitable_purposes.aspx

I would argue that an overseas rugby tour falls within the following -

"the advancement of education"
"the advancement of citizenship or community development"
"the advancement of amateur sport"

Unpaid volunteers put hundreds of hours of time in to run sports clubs and meet all the legislative requirements required by national sports governing bodies. You can't even join most cricket leagues now unless you agree to affiliate to the ECB (£12 pa for every club plus £12 pa for each team that club enters). We don't even get insurance cover for that, we have to take our own club policy. The ECB courses to train coaches aren't free either (around £200 each). Community sport is really important and it's slowly getting the life throttled out of it.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 02:04 pm (UTC)
"I would argue that an overseas rugby tour falls within the following -

"the advancement of education" - Really???

"the advancement of citizenship or community development" - I've never seen any evidence that playing rugby union makes someone a better citizen. I have, whilst at university, seen plenty of evidence of a definite correlation between playing rugby union and being an utter wanker. I don't know which way around the cause and effect is here, or whether there is a common cause.

"the advancement of amateur sport" - OK, fair enough. Not sure how this provides a "public benefit" though.

"Unpaid volunteers put hundreds of hours of time in to run sports clubs..."
I put hundreds of hours of time in writing role-playing game campaigns and playing computer games. Those are my hobbies. I don't expect other people to pay for them.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
Overseas trips have generally been considered educational, even when there is no actual formal teaching taking place. Mixing with children from another country, experiencing other countries/languages, being considerate guests (it's a kids tour so they won't be staying in a hotel, they'll be put with host families), being good ambassadors for their club and the UK. All of educational benefit.

If your view of sports players is based on the rugger buggers in the college bar, you can blame the admissions tutor for choosing them, it's not the sports fault.

I can show you public benefit of amateur sport at the club where I play cricket any Tuesday night in the summer. 80+ children receving free coaching, plenty of exercise, learning about teamwork and their parents meeting with other parents and helping all the children have fun.

If you were to run RPG or computer game sessions in a local community centre and make them open to all, if you got enough attendance, you could ask for financial support for a community activity (though that might sound mad to you). That you choose to restrict your sharing of hobbies with only your friends is why you shouldn't expect other people to pay for it. If someone provides an activity that is of benefit, I think they are entitled to fundraise locally. And you were given the option whether to put money in the collection bucket or not, no-one is compelled. When we were doing our bag pack, not everyone who had help with their packing put anything in the collecting bucket and the volunteers were explicity told that was fine and they weren't allowed to harass people.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 03:37 pm (UTC)
I think my problem with it is that I'm very uncomfortable with the idea of people raising money from charitable giving when the primary or only beneficiary is themselves.

If the children were raising money for other people to enjoy sport, fine. Or if the club supporters were doing a real job of work to raise the cash, fine.

It just seems to me that charity should really be about benefiting others, not yourself.

I feel the same way about people who ask for sponsorship to do exciting things in foreign locations - cycle rides and mountain climbs and hikes. I know these are a lucrative revenue stream for the charity, but it still seems wrong. Raising money so that you can go and actually do work and volunteer skills, fair enough. Sponsored walking along the Great Wall of China, not so much. :-(
Mar. 26th, 2010 08:58 pm (UTC)
but on that basis, all those coffee morning in church halls and village fetes and school fetes etc etc would seem to fall into your category of not being of wide enough benefit. Seems a bit harsh to me
Mar. 27th, 2010 10:09 pm (UTC)
Not really - it's the combination of them doing it for themselves, the fact that they are based in a well off, privileged location which just doesn't have poverty-stricken areas within its range (the town is surrounded by Dartmoor, there just are no poor areas nearby), the fact that they weren't even trying to do what they were supposed to be doing for their fundraiser, and that what they were fundraising for was so inessential - they weren't asking for money for equipment, or essential repairs or a new building or anything that they really needed to run the club, or even run it better. The money was being raised specifically for a tour.

If they had been asking for something more core to their main mission OR if they had provided information that suggested this would benefit kids who would not otherwise get to go abroad at all, or even if they'd really been trying - then I might have donated, or I might not. But I don't think I would feel a gut feeling of distaste at the *concept* of the collection, which is what I was left with. And they didn't believe it it enough themselves to try to do it properly.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 01:08 pm (UTC)
we did a bag pack at our local Morrisons to raise money towards our new cricket pavillion (finally just going up now). Lots of local community groups do it (riding schools, other sports clubs, gymnastics clubs, youth groups etc etc). If you've ever seen the hoops you have to go through to get a Sport England/FA/ECB grant and how long it takes, you'd know why it's far easier to raise the money yourself. There is f**k all investment into "grass roots sport" unless you live in the middle of an urban wasteland or are targeting socially deprived/disabled/ethnic groups. Not that these are unworthy causes, they are just very expensive to do and soak up most of the cash. I would think paying for an overseas tour is a bit of a p**s-take, but what they would get from a bag pack won't cover anything like all of it, but it might mean some kids get to go who otherwise wouldn't and I would argue, since schools are pulling out of running trips because of the mountains of red tape involved, this might be some of the kids first chance to experience a trip outside the UK and that is good.

What if they did a car wash? Would you object to that?

PS They might be registered as a Community Amateur Sports Club, in which case their activities are charitable.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 02:08 pm (UTC)
Yeah, they can certainly come and wash my car. That fits into my "proper work on a commercial basis" category.

But I don't think that sports clubs, or any clubs devoted to private hobbies, should count as charities.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 23rd, 2010 03:14 pm (UTC)
did you actually say anything with meaning then? It just sounded like a lot of cotton wool. Nobody required them to organise an overseas tour (which is a night mare job btw), they did it to do something good for the kids. Why should that not be viewed as a public benefit? No-one is prevented from joining that club, so anyone could benefit.

I think I am going to be very outnumbered on this topic as not many of this LJ "circle" are sports _players_ (as opposed to sports _fans_)
Mar. 23rd, 2010 03:23 pm (UTC)
I think we're going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

If a middle class kid goes on holiday to france for two weeks, it's a holiday. If he plays a couple of games of 'rugger' while he's there, it's educational and charitable. Sorry, don't see that.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 09:11 pm (UTC)
Maybe because the middle-class kid's parents have paid his way, whilst his 'charity work' has helped raise funds so that a working-class/on benefits class/single parent's kid can go to play rugby too and thus learn that there's more to life, people, the world than shitty Devonport backstreets.

What would you say to one of the You're Hired teens who did something like this for a sports club?

edit for typo

Edited at 2010-03-23 09:11 pm (UTC)
Mar. 23rd, 2010 10:28 pm (UTC)
Re: holiday/educational
The club was in Tavistock, not Devonport. Tavistock is FAR from being a poverty stricken town, and it would be quite a trek for any of the kids from the poorer areas of Plymouth.

OK, there are people there who are not well off as there are everywhere, but frankly, children growing up in Tavistock have absolutely squillions of opportunities not available to most children. It has a football club, two cricket clubs, tennis courts, a swimming pool, library, museum, an active live music scene, it's right on the edge of Dartmoor and of course it has a rugby club. All of this within walking distance in a small safe town with good police presence and a strong community.

I still think that if the lucky rugby-playing children of Tavistock wish to raise money for charity, it would be a seemly gesture for them to collect for a purpose that was clearly defined as NOT for their own benefit.
Mar. 26th, 2010 09:09 pm (UTC)
Re: holiday/educational
if you and PP are convinced that only middle class kids with well-off parents are going to be involved with the tour, you are perfectly entitled to not donate, but I don't see how you can possibly make that assumption. But I can tell you that that is unlikely to be the case for a lot of sports clubs, including the one I played with in London and the one I play at now. We do a lot for these kids and I would have no qualms about raising funds for their benefit. Just for information, it costs £4k pa to just run the club, without investing anything in new equipment or additional coaches. If we didn't hold fundraising events - dinners, golf days, summer gala, bag packs, sponsored cycles etc etc the club would not be viable.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 26th, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
well I had no idea what you were trying to say. Something like that ... in a general way from general activity Are you talking about on a local level, a regional level, a national level? The RFU promotes the game on a general, national level but if it's anything like the cricket setup, the county-level admin will have precious little to give out in grants. So, if RFU wants to raise money to promote rugby via eg national academies, extra coaches, subsidised equipment etc that's "appropriate" for charitable giving but very little of that will trickle down to Anytown Rugby Club, probably not enough to make much difference; if Anytown Rugby Club wants to raise money to promote and enhance rugby in their local community via a tour for their juniors that's not "appropriate" for charitable giving? Schools (when they ran foreign exchanges which are dwindling fast) used overseas trips as a major plus of their community life, often getting a mention in the local paper plus school twinning links and they would hold fundraisers towards it so that the cost to parents was held down and as many kids as possible could participate. So they're valuable in a school setting but not a community sports setting? If we wait for something to happen centrally and then eventually make its way out to everyone, community sport just withers on the vine. It needs local action and local support for the benefit of the local community. It's as much part of community activism as running an OAP coffee morning or a homeless shelter. A very limited section of society benefits from those but no-one would have a problem supporting them. Sport has lots of physical and developmental benefits for kids (http://www.bhfactive.org.uk/young-people/index.html) and if it's left up to schools and the national curriculum then participation would go through the floor. Schools don't have the budget, the staff time or (often) the knowledge to do little more than scratch the surface. What is mandated now for sports/PE at school? Is it still two hours per week?
Mar. 26th, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
PS Remember that TS gets to reclaim Gift Aid on membership subscriptions and doesn't pay Corporation Tax. Sports Clubs aren't allowed to to do that, Gift Aid is only reclaimable on donations and Corporation Tax is only exempted up to a certain level. So fundraising is harder for sports clubs as well.
Mar. 23rd, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
Mar. 23rd, 2010 03:21 pm (UTC)
I'd have a more positive view of the Lord's Taverners if it they'd actually got round to delivering our quiz trophy!
Mar. 26th, 2010 09:04 pm (UTC)
you'll have to enlighten me on that one......
Mar. 23rd, 2010 09:06 pm (UTC)
As you had the option to silently, or verbally, decline and to either have bags packed or donate or none of them I don't see why it's such an issue for you. To me it is on the same scale as Bob-a-job week for the modern red-tape paranopid of perverts times we live in.

Our local Snasebury's had one of these things going on and I don't know how much help the kids gave or got donated, I was asked if they could help pack my stuff and I said, "No thank you" but chucked some coin in the bucket anyway (and got a thank you). Around here anything in the way of a small local sports club needs all the help they can get, because sport is something academic underachievers can enjoy and get away from here through and it teaches them things that maybe they could never take in at school (for whatever reasons) like working together, valuing people regardless of colour or creed, keeping stuff clean and in good working order, or just give them something to do that keeps them out of the circles of taking drugs and mugging folk. So from what lanciatore's been saying I side with him.
Mar. 26th, 2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
Clearly they should have recruited some scrawny little urchins from Devonport and kept the middle-class kids out of sight ;-)
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )