Friday, 5 December 2014

Keep Volunteering Voluntary

When we are thinking of making a charitable donation, I believe it is important to make sure that the charity or non-profit organisation we are giving to is not involved in things we find abhorrent.

One of the things I find abhorrent is the widespread use of forced unpaid labour under government mandated "Workfare" schemes. Unfortunately many charities and non-profit organisations have decided to involve themselves in these forced labour schemes by accepting free labour under the Tories economically destructive "work for free or suffer absolute destitution" regime.

You can read some of my critiques on Workfare here and here, and you can read an article proposing a fairer welfare system here.

Keep Volunteering Voluntary

Several charities have resolved to carry on supporting this forced labour regime (despite the criticism), 
however hundreds have seen sense and publicly distanced themselves from these draconian schemes.

There is an easy way to check that the good cause you're supporting refuse to involve themselves in forced labour schemes. Keep Volunteering Voluntary (KVV) have created a list of organisations who have signed their agreement.

This is what their agreement says:
"As charities and voluntary organisations we know the value of volunteering. Volunteering means people independently choosing to give their time freely to help others and make the world a better place. Workfare schemes force unemployed people to carry out unpaid work or face benefit sanctions that can cause hardship and destitution.  We believe in keeping volunteering voluntary and will not participate in government workfare schemes."

The list of signatories is here

What to do if a charity or voluntary group is not on the list

If you're planning to make a charitable donation don't assume that because your favoured charity/voluntary group is not on the list that this means that they are guilty of exploiting forced labour.

Many voluntary organisations may not even be aware of the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement.

The best course of action would be to contact the organisation and ask them directly if they exploit forced labour.

If they don't use forced labour you could suggest that they should sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement so that they can be
 listed as a proper voluntary organisation on their website (here is the link to do that).
If they do use forced labour, you could tell them that you support their work, but that you won't be making any more donations to their cause until they terminate their involvement in forced labour schemes.

If you are directly involved with a charity or voluntary organisation that is not on the list, you should establish that they are not involved, and if this is the case, make sure they sign the Keep Volunteering Voluntary agreement so that they can be listed as a proper voluntary organisation on their website (here's that link again).

If it turns out that your organisation has been involved in exploiting forced labour you should try to do something about it. As someone within the organisation you have much more power to change their practices than someone on the outside. If the organisation fears losing their genuine long-term volunteers, they're much more likely to stop accepting the forced labour supplied to them by the government.


In my view it is a complete outrage that organisations that consider themselves to be charities and voluntary groups continue to use forced labour.

Direct action is one of the best things we can do to pressurise such organisations to terminate their involvement with such schemes. If we refuse to donate our money or our time until they cease involvement, they're a hell of a lot more likely to stop than if we do nothing.

Keep Volunteering Voluntary are doing a really good job of helping charitable people make informed decisions about their charitable donations, and you can help them by making sure that charities and voluntary organisations that deserve to be on their list are on their list.

 Another Angry Voice  is a not-for-profit page which generates absolutely no revenue from advertising and accepts no money from corporate or political interests. The only sources of income for  Another Angry Voice  are small donations from people who see some value in my work. If you appreciate my efforts and you could afford to make a donation, it would be massively appreciated.

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