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How to handle bad behaviour in a charity?

(200 Posts)
trisher Sat 10-Feb-18 11:48:39

As Oxfam reels under the exposure of the behaviour of some of its staff in Haiti. I wondered how others felt about how charities should handle such things. Personally I think exposure, publicity and honesty about what is happening is the best policy. But I know that many charities choose to keep quiet about wrongdoing, allowing resignations rather than prosecuting. I understand that they are trying to protect their income from donations, but, there is always the danger that the truth will eventually come out. What do others think? And would you stop giving if there was wrongdoing?

mollie Sat 10-Feb-18 12:00:11

I have stopped giving to big charities already and give to small local ventures because the money gets to the needy quickly. I worked for a big charity for a short while and was very disillusioned, just another form of big business with another label and a smaller tax bill. Yes, they should be open and honest but you hit the nail on the head by saying they need to protect their income and we know how flexible the truth can be, don’t we.

eazybee Sat 10-Feb-18 13:05:03

Exactly. The manageress of a local charity shop had been selling donated expensive clothes on e-bay, which was how she was discovered. The charity refused to prosecute because they feared it would damage future donations.

MissAdventure Sat 10-Feb-18 13:08:38

I think I would be more inclined to donate to a charity which had prosecuted a thief.

durhamjen Sat 10-Feb-18 13:54:20

When I read about it in the papers, my first thought was why it is in the news now, as it seemed to have been dealt with at the time.
It seems like I was not the only one.

Baggs Sat 10-Feb-18 14:06:01

The report in the Times says that positive references were given for some of the guilty former employees when the were applying for jobs with other charities.

Synonymous Sat 10-Feb-18 14:07:28

As mollie says

durhamjen Sat 10-Feb-18 14:09:11

"Let be be unambiguous: what these staff did was wholly unacceptable.

And let’s also be clear: Oxfam clearly thought the same way. The staff were confronted. Four were found guilty of gross misconduct. They were dismissed. Three resigned - or were ‘allowed to resign' according to the allegations. Quite how someone can, however, be prevented from resigning their job is hard to imagine, and this sort of thing seems to happen frequently in the police, for example, when allegations are raised. But apparently it’s not allowed in Oxfam.

Oxfam says it did not provide references to these people. The explanations provided seem entirely plausible.

Oxfam is acknowledged to have told the Charity Commission. It is said it may not have provided enough information. Maybe."

Baggs Sat 10-Feb-18 14:10:38

And this:

"Two other charities — World Jewish Relief and Acted — also hired men in the scandal and said that they had not been alerted by Oxfam to any concerns."

durhamjen Sat 10-Feb-18 14:12:19

"Oxfam allowed three men to resign and sacked four for gross misconduct after an inquiry into sexual exploitation, the downloading of pornography, bullying and intimidation, a confidential 2011 report seen by the Times newspaper revealed."

Why is the Times bringing it up now?

Baggs Sat 10-Feb-18 14:12:40

And this:

"The disclosure that some men in the scandal obtained jobs in other emergency zones raises alarm about background checks in the aid world."

Baggs Sat 10-Feb-18 14:13:25

Why is the Times bringing it up now?

Could it be that the Times has only just found out the details?

Baggs Sat 10-Feb-18 14:16:40

And this:

"...shocking that the most senior employee implicated in the scandal was not only allowed to resign without censure but was subsequently hired by another charity with no warning from Oxfam about his past conduct.

At least three more former Oxfam workers investigated in the affair have also been rehired by other charities since being dismissed. In none of these cases did the new employer receive warnings from Oxfam and in one it believes it received a positive reference, as we report today."

MaizieD Sat 10-Feb-18 14:20:41

So, we have conflicting accounts, Oxfam's and that of The Times.

I'm prepared to go with Oxfam's. Journalists aren't always 100% reliable...

durhamjen Sat 10-Feb-18 14:25:16

"Oxfam’s chief executive, Mark Goldring, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that any references given to staff involved in the scandal, who later found other jobs, had not been officially sanctioned.

He said: “When the staff involved resigned in 2011, all were fired, Oxfam was very clear that we would not give them references. We recorded that on our own system, and we wrote to all of our offices across the world.

“But there is a real difference between an organisation giving a reference and individuals that have previously worked for an organisation giving references in individual capacities, and that’s what we believe will have happened.” "

durhamjen Sat 10-Feb-18 14:26:05

The above is from the Guardian.

durhamjen Sat 10-Feb-18 14:30:34

It wouldn't be because the Times backs Rees-Mogg in his anti-aid stance, would it, as in a Sky interview?
Who owns Sky? Who wants to own BSkyB?
Who owns the Times?

trisher Sat 10-Feb-18 15:37:18

It would seem though that having discovered the group, allowing certain people to resign, and not publicly denouncing them, Oxfam left the door open for those men to provide references for each other and to remain working in charities in areas where they would find it easy to continue their behaviour. I can only think that such behaviour would not be condoned or accepted in this country where they would have been prosecuted, and that the same standards should be applied to aid workers in countries where there is no legal protection for one reason or another.

Baggs Sat 10-Feb-18 15:42:07

The Times updates on the subject have intimated thst any positive references were probably suspect, i.e. not from Oxfam. So there appears to be agreement on that.

Ownership of what is perceived to be less than perfectly left-wing media always comes up. I am pretty sure the Times editor can use his own editorial discretion. I find on most subjects that it is never just one point of view that is put forward by the paper. It employs writers of quite widely varying political stances. I like a rounded picture.

As I understand it, JRM is not against foreign aid. He just doesn't think governments should be involved, only charities. Oxfam's a charity, isn't it?

Baggs Sat 10-Feb-18 15:42:44

Good post, trisher. You've put it better than I have.

Baggs Sat 10-Feb-18 15:44:07

Some people think the lack of public denouncement by Oxfam leaves Oxfam open to the criticism it is now getting about this episode.

durhamjen Sat 10-Feb-18 15:48:36

I don't understand your point about Rees-Mogg.
Is it possible for a government to say that it is against charitable foreign aid?
If not, what you said is pointless.

Baggs Sat 10-Feb-18 15:53:07

Sorry I didn't make it clear. As I understand it (I'm not an expert on his views and only read it today), JRM thinks aid to foreign countries should be left entirely to charity and not government funded.

He and others have also expressed worries about how some of the foreign aid our government funds (0.7% of GDP) is not getting to the people it is supposed to be helping because of corruption in some countries.

These two things strike me as separate but related issues. One could agree to one or both or neither of them.

Baggs Sat 10-Feb-18 15:55:29

I think a government could, theoretically, decide that it didn't want to commit any of its country's GDP to foreign aid. I think such a suggestion, should one ever be made, would not go down well in the UK.

durhamjen Sat 10-Feb-18 16:10:19

"So the right question has to be asked, which is why is The Times raising this question now? I have to say that it is not by chance. Oxfam has been hated by right wing politicians for decades. That’s because Oxfam has the temerity to ask why poor people are poor. And it also has the temerity to suggest that this is partly the fault of the way the world’s economic system. It even challenges the wealth of the richest and says that maybe it needs redistribution."

Other people think this.