Charities; a force for good or just a massive con?

What are Charities?

charity-where-does-your-money-go-tree-huggers-save-the-trees-lion caresses a christmas tree

Charities help those in need. This could be; people, animals or even environment. Power to all the tree huggers!

A charity is an organisation that helps those in need. Think; people, animals, environment.

Charities collect donations which are meant to be used for charitable causes. For example, when the Nepal Earthquake hit, several charities collected money to help those affected.

Charities are “nonprofit organisations”. This means any money they receive goes to the aims of the organisation. They also don’t get taxed on donations they receive.


Why are we talking about Charities?

A review commissioned by the government has recommended that people should be allowed to choose not to be contacted by charities. Cold-calling and other forms of fundraising are also being reviewed. If charities break the rules they could face a fundraising ban.

“Charities need to view and approach fundraising no longer as just a money-raising technique, but as a way in which they can provide a connection between the donor and the cause.”

People are questioning the methods charities use in order to get donations. It was reported a pensioner called Olive Cooke took her own life after being “hounded” by charities. She had recently cancelled her direct debit payments to the charities. Cooke’s family later said that charities had nothing to do with her death, but not before the story was picked up by all top tier news publications.

Some charities use call centres to contact people and to pressure them for donations. Scenes of Reason spoke to someone, who would prefer to remain anonymous who has fundraised for a well-known charity:

“The worst was that the people who tended to sign up would be little old ladies who don’t really have the money but don’t want to say no. I just used to let them go if I felt they couldn’t afford it – that seemed to be the main response. But if you ask three times they give in.

The tactics were basically guilt tripping. You had three pages of script designed to make them feel bad”

These call centres often set targets. Hit these and you get extra dollars in commission; fail and your job is on the line.

“They wanted a 25% conversion as a target… they would send you home [if you didn’t meet the target]. We got £3 for every sign up. People would get annoyed the third time you asked for money but we’d get told off for not asking three times… the managers would stand around you like hawks”


Doesn’t sound great… but it’s all for a good cause, right?

charity, where does your money go, charity bosses pocket millions of pounds, rocky horror picture show  how about that

Charities such as Age UK and The British Heart Foundation spend under 50% of their income on charitable activity! Well well well…

Questions have also been raised over how much of the money donated actually goes to the cause.

Most charities should aim to put 75% of money received into charitable activities. The rest is spent on office costs, staff pay and promotional campaigns. The 75% target is according to the American Institute of PhilanthropyWith a name like that they sound like they know what they’re talking about.

But some charities actually fall WELL below this target. Charities such as Age UK and The British Heart Foundation spend under 50% of their income on charitable activities.


Where is the money going?

charity, where does your money go, charity bosses pocket millions of pounds, man rubs his hand signalling raining money, dollar dollar bills yo

There have been examples of charity executives pocketing millions of pounds! Could that be where your donations go??

There have been examples of charity executives pocketing millions of pounds. At least 30 charity bosses from the UK’s largest charities were paid over £200,000 in 2014. Maybe they see themselves as a charitable cause?

Some charities also end up spending so much on promotional campaigns there isn’t much money leftover to spend on charitable stuff. In 2013 UK charities spent £394 million on advertising. Not much left to actually help then?

As well as call centres charities also fork out masses of money on “Chuggers”. Charity muggers are those insanely happy chappies who hang around by stations and shopping centres. Make eye contact with them at your peril. Charities like Cancer Research UK, Save the Children, British Heart Foundation and many other spend millions of pounds on Chuggers each year; the equivalent of over £100 per each sign-up donation in some cases. Chuggers are often hired through third-party companies so some of the charities’ money ends up in the bosses’ pockets.

Food for thought: Recently accused of corruption FIFA is actually a non-profit organisation. But that doesn’t mean all charities are dodgy:


Most charities are good though, right?

It’s easy to distrust the big charities when you hear horror stories about what they get up to.

Joe Saxton, the founder of charity research group NFP Synergy thinks “one thing charities need to get better at doing is making people feel that it’s OK to say no, rather than making them feel hassled and under pressure, especially if those people are vulnerable.”

However he also thinks it’s important to remember that most charities are actually there for a good cause:

What you’ve got to remember is around half of all charities have an income of less than £10,000 a year. Even more than that have no paid staff… the number of charities that are “fronts” for anything they shouldn’t be is absolutely tiny. That’s still too many and there have been a few high-profile examples but the vast majority of charities are there to do good work and they do actually do good work. More charities means more people being charitable.

So, don’t believe the horror stories. The majority of charities are doing good things.


Today’s learnings; charity is definitely a good thing, but you shouldn’t feel pressured into donating. Local charities are always a trustworthy option.

Is it better to donate to charity or actually go out and help somebody yourself? Is charity donation just a way to feel better about yourself?

Combating Climate Change at the Paris Climate Conference

By David Saddington
with Joel Davidge and Cherilyn Yeates


Firstly, what is Climate Change?

Luckily we created a video answering that very question.



So… Climate Change = Long Term Weather. However, a deal to stop Climate Change shouldn’t = Long Term Plan. 


OK, so what are we going to do to stop it?

This December the world’s politicians are going to sort it all out. Or so they say.  COP21 or the 2015 Paris Climate Conference  is the annual meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that 193 countries in the world are signed up to. Their aim is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate change, locking in the target of keeping global warming below 2°C.

If the Earth heats above 2°C it’s generally agreed that we’ll see serious side effects. Think natural disasters like floods and freak weather events. If we keep burning fossil fuels at the rate we currently are we could hit this level by around 2036. No pressure then.


EXPLORE: What are the UK’s aims regarding Climate Change?


Will the Paris Climate Conference solve Climate Change?

Paris Climate Conference - a sculpture "Politicians Discussing Global Warming" by Isaac Cordal

“Politicians Discussing Global Warming” by Isaac Cordal

Countries attending the Paris climate conference were asked for plans outlining the amount of carbon they will reduce. These are called “Intended Nationally Determined Contributions”. Yeah, no offence, but I prefer “No Carbs before 2020”.

At the moment these are only promises and at COP21 politicians will attempt to turn these into a binding agreement. Good plan, guys.

It’s an ambitious target and yes, we have been here before. A deal was expected to be signed in Copenhagen in 2009… but fell through.

Even worse news; research is suggesting that even if a deal is struck at the Paris Climate Conference, the pledges from the countries involved may not be enough to slow global warming down. So how will the Paris Climate Conference make sure countries keep their word? There has been talk of creating a “ratcheting” system which would allow the UN to monitor the progress of each country. This would allow more pressure to be put on countries which aren’t pulling their weight. Come on guys, crank it up a notch!


Is man-made Climate Change actually a real thing?

Climate Action Supporter; “the science is there and 97% of scientists agree, the world is heating up. We may already be too late to stop it, but have to act now.”

Climate Change Denier; “How do we know that the planet warming up is down to humans? Surely there are other natural causes? We don’t know that the predicted results of ‘Climate Change’ would be a bad thing.”

Strange as it may seem, there are a small number of people who say that Climate Change has nothing to do with humans. However, a lot of people who are undecided about Climate Action are:

On the fence; “I think we need Climate Action… but isn’t it really expensive?”

Lots of developed countries are playing hard to get as they think Climate Action will have a negative effect on their wallets. For example China is keen to tackle Climate Change in the long run, but want a few more years of economic growth thanks to fossil fuels.


Join The Debate:



Paris Climate Talks Explained

Paris may be the city of romance, but some are hoping mankind’s love affair with fossil fuels ends here. Will the Paris Climate Conference lead to a proper international agreement to stop Climate Change?

READ MORE: Is Climate Change causing violence and conflict?


David Saddington is a climate change communicator, social entrepreneur, Huff Post blogger and TEDx speaker who has studied the science & policy behind the climate topics and is actively engaged in tackling the problem. You can follow him @EnvironmentDave 

Wanna save the planet? The first step is to get the knowledge. Sign up to our weekly news round-up Your Weekend Chat. Follow @scenesofreason and like us on Facebook .

What is Fracking?


It seems the political parties are talking about fracking a lot in their campaigns with some arguing it’s a good thing, and others saying no, never and stop. But how are we supposed to care one way or another if we don’t actually know what it is…



Fracking: you drill down into the earth, find a rock, aim a high-pressure water mixture at that rock which causes it to fracture apart, and that then allows the gas in the rock to release and flow on out. Rocks have gas in them? Apparently so. Rock on!



The posh word for fracking, or what you’d call it if you were showing off at the dinner table.



The gas trying to be exported from these rocks is called Shale Gas. Fracking is going on all over the country in the North, South and Midlands. For fracking companies to frack in the UK they need to apply for planning permission and tick a lot of boxes before they can go ahead.



An image showing a protester holding up a sign against fracking.

Fracking protester

Where oh where do we begin? Firstly, fracking uses a LOT of water. That means transporting masses of water to the fracking sites which costs huge amounts of money, and doesn’t do the environment much good either. If we really want to pull on the heart strings, shouldn’t an adundance of water go towards countries with shortages or in dire need of water aid. Various African countries will spring to mind, but several states in America e.g. California is particularly drought-stricken.

Secondly, environmentalists worry that chemicals, and the bad sort of chemicals called ‘carcinogenic chemicals’, can escape during the fracking process contaminating the surrounding areas underground and on the fracking site. There’s also the worry that fracking is causing earth tremors: Blackpool had two tiny earthquakes back in 2011 after fracking took place in the area. And what about renewable energy sources people!? Can’t the money being invested in fracking be used to fund more renewable energy sources instead? After all, fracking is only continuing our reliance on fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are bad for us, remember?



Fracking lets you have access to those difficult to reach resources of oil and gas but most importantly it has given the UK gas security for the next 100 years. It’s great for job creation, the economy and energy supplies: the US have been busy fracking and it has meant millions more jobs, and much cheaper fuel because it’s all coming from home turf and not being imported in. So California might be desperate for some water, but now that they have a job they can afford bottled water! *Probing, another explainer for another time*

A word from our Environment expert, David Saddington: “Fracking is quite an old technology for extracting fossil fuels but as previously mentioned the big rise in popularity came during the US shale boom in the early 2000’s and lots of videos hit youtube of people who could light their tapwater on fire because of the methane in the water. Matt Damon even did a film about it called The Promised Land.” 


The US have their own political stances on this, but for now let’s talk UK:

Conservatives: support fracking for shale gas….if it’s done safely. Their argument is that the positives outweigh the negatives. There is a lot that contributes to climate change and fracking might be a small part of it.

Labour: put in tougher measures before fracking can take place and give Wales and Scotland the power to decide on fracking in their countries independently.

Lib Dems: similar to the Tories but re-invest 50% of the tax income from fracking in green energy. Fighting fire with fire no?

UKIP: support fracking.

Greens: have a guess… yep… totally against it.

SNP: don’t like it either and will ban it in Scotland.

Plaid Cymru: not totally against it, but support a freeze on fracking in the meantime.

What else have the parties got planned for our environment:


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2015 Conservative Manifesto Explained in 6 Minutes

Key Message: Let us finish the job…


We have created 1,000 jobs for each day in Parliament since 2010

We have halved the deficit as a share of our economy




Get the debt down! Reduce government spending by 1% each year for two years. Put simply: Save £1 a year in every £100 that government spends. If I had £1 for every time I spend £100 I’d have saved £1.50…

Get rid of the Budget Deficit by 2017/18. Deficit = gap between what the government spends and what it receives in taxes

Not only that: the Conservatives want to run a Budget Surplus by 2018/19. Surplus = bring in more money in taxes than it spends and have some left over…



The Deficit Decoded

The Deficit Decoded



Give more money to hardworking people: The amount you earn before you pay any tax is going up to £12,500. On a bigger salary? The amount you earn before you pay higher 40% rates of tax will also go up to £50,000 from £31, 786.


The Minimum Wage will continue to go up to £8 by 2020 and after the first budget of the new government anyone working 30 hours on the Minimum Wage won’t pay ANY tax at all.

Business will be encouraged to pay the Living Wage and the amount you’re allowed to earn before you pay tax will automatically go up as the Minimum Wage rises.


Labour manifesto.002

Homes worth up to £1 million will be exempt from inheritance tax under new laws.

The Conservatives are big on apprenticeships: they want to create 3 million AND if you’re an apprentice under 25 you won’t have to pay national insurance meaning more money for you.

Big Changes to state benefits as they are combined into one Universal Credit system which will continue to be rolled out. The whole idea: Work pays and if you can work, you should. The amount of benefits one household can receive will go down to £23,000 and working age benefits will not go up for two years – with exemptions for disability and pensioner benefits.


Young people pay attention: instead of job seekers allowance for 18-21s, there will now be “youth allowance” where after 6 months you will have to be in an apprenticeship or do community work to receive benefits.

Go Equality… for companies with more than 250 employees. You guys are the chosen ones and will have to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees. Here’s hoping there is a reason why it isn’t for all companies.

Don’t trust banks? They will be supervised more strictly by the Bank of England. More safeguards will be put in place so your money will be more protected should the economy go wobbly again. Let’s hope we can trust the B of E then hey?!

Conservative Plan: Tax the banks on their debts to stop them borrowing silly amounts and DON’T allow them to pay less tax by knocking down their profits with their losses from previous years.

Help small businesses to grow with loans from the “Help to Grow” scheme, and give them “the most competitive taxes of any major economy”. Young Entrepreneurs will get the chance to start-up their own businesses when the “Start Up Loans” Programme is expanded. YAY FOR SCENES OF REASON!!!

Sell more British products = stronger British economy. The Conservatives have a target of £1 trillion in British exports and will work on a 25 year plan to sell more British food. Nom nom.


Keep it cheap: rail fares will NOT go up. Train companies will not be allowed to raise ticket prices above inflation levels (inflation: where value of money goes down, but how much stuff costs goes up)

Invest the North! £13 billion will go on transport in the north of England AND £38 billion for the UK’s railway network in the next five years. This includes work on High Speed 2 (ultra-fast train line between London and the North) and development of High Speed 3 (proposed line going further north) connecting up the country.

Not impressed? Well, let’s throw in £15 billion to improve roads around the UK. Austerity, wha?


Time to get tough: We need to improve at stuff like maths, science and grammar as we’re currently dropping down the league tables. 17,500 extra maths and physics teachers will be brought in. Kids will have to sit exams at the end of Primary School and retake when they start Secondary School if they fail. Where’s my calculator?

More free schools for those who want them. Free Schools can be set up by parents, charities, universities, trusts and can choose their own curriculum of what to teach as long as it’s “broad and balanced”. Sound good? Not everyone agrees with dismantling the education system…

Increase the number of women in charge of national sports departments to inspire women in sport AND support school sports funding with £150 million a year. That will probably go on lost tennis balls..

Protect the children! Bring in age verification for access to all websites containing pornographic material and age-rating for all music videos. We suggest they also do tutorials on how to delete your browser history. Just sayin’.

For the academics: there will be loans for post-grads and PhD students, entry to major museums and galleries will be kept free and you’ll have no rise in the BBC licence fee.


The number of MPs will be reduced from 650 to cut the cost of politics and make votes of more equal value. Constituency boundaries will be reviewed and altered to make sure that everyone is represented equally around the country. And let’s see more jobs in the public sector going to women and more female MPs please.

How the UK parliamentary system works….

More control will be given to Scotland (as promised after the referendum) and Wales will also get more powers to govern themselves. Large cities (e.g. Manchester) which choose to have elected mayors will also get more choice of where their budget is spent.

English MPs will have more say over matters only affecting England, including on Income Tax. And the whole situation of which MPs can vote for what will be sorted out properly. Umm, haven’t we heard that before?



Get 95% of the UK covered for superfast broadband by 2017. Netflix binge, anyone? Oh, and don’t worry if you have to get back to work. The Tories are upping the amount of free childcare for working parents of 3-4 year olds to 30 hours.

Time to get tough on those who break the rules though: random drugs tests, mobile phone blocking tech and measures introduced to tackle corruption in prisons, plus banning orders for extremist organisations.

Also say goodbye Human Rights Act (e.g. right to live, right to not be tortured) which originated in Europe and say hello to the British Bill of Rights: breaking a link with Europe and tellin’ em the Brits make the rules round here.

Also new rules for Migrants from the European Union:  no council houses until you’ve lived here for four years. No job seekers benefits either and if you haven’t found a job in 6 months, you’ll have to go…

Everyone who works for public services will need to speak English.




It’s not all doom and gloom: Conservatives want to invest at least £7.5 million a year in relationship support.

But if you’re a fox, get worried: Tories want to give Parliament the opportunity to get rid of the Hunting Act…




Time to decide: straight “in-out” referendum on our membership of the European Union by the end of 2017.

Before that though the Tories will reclaim power from the EU, so the UK government makes the majority of our decisions.

And we’ll be keeping the pound as well. None of that Euro nonsense here please.

0.7% UK income will go on helping those in need in other countries. Aren’t we nice?

The UK will also continue to work to get rid of Islamic State and stabilise the situation between Israel/Palestine. Oh, and prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. And stay pals with the USA. And sort out Russia. 

Worried we’re getting too involved and we need to look after ourselves first? Army reserves will be expanded to 35,000. So you can sleep easy.


NHS spending will increase by at least an additional £8 billion by 2020. The Conservative want 7-day a week access to your GPs, no more wasted paper when you’ll be given access to your own electronic medical records and continued investment into research for cures for Cancer and Dementia. The Better Care Fund will integrate health and social care = a streamlined health service where less money is wasted. Well, that’s the idea anyway…



Let’s all save the planet. Tories will work towards targets set in the UK Climate Change Act, even though some say they’re falling short of the target… 

 Invest £500 million to make all cars zero emission vehicles. No more exhaust clogging up the planet. Why is this important? CLIMATE CHANGE OF COURSE 

Christmas tree farm in Iowa.

More please

Local people will have more control over planning and can protect Greenbelt land (areas of open land where no building is permitted) and new “blue belt” areas will protect marine habitats. Spend £3 billion to clean up rivers, lakes and enhance England’s countryside over the next five years. And plant another 11 million trees.

Just in case you were worried about all the new transport plans mentioned earlier: £300 million will ensure less light pollution from new roads and any plant or animal life disrupted in the construction of High Speed 2 will be replaced. Phew.

Animal lovers rejoice: an international ban on trade in ivory and polar bear skin and ‘endangered species’ status for polar bears is also part of the plan.

The UK will push for a strong global deal to limit carbon emissions at the Paris Climate Summit in December. C’est très bon.


Getting more people into homes: 200,000 starter homes created and sold at 20% below the market price for first time buyers who are under 40. The Right to Buy Scheme where you can purchase your council property will be extended to those in housing associations.

Continue to increase state pension in the “triple lock system”: pensions rise each year either by 2.5% or in line with inflations and earnings – whichever is highest. Other pensioner benefits such as free bus passes, TV licences and the Winter Fuel Payment will be protected.

The Conservatives have already changed up the pension system



Watch out, Tax Avoiders – they’re coming for you.

Increase the annual tax for non-doms (And what the hell is a non-dom?!)

Find £30 billion: £13bn from making the government more efficient and making departmental savings, £12bn from welfare savings (benefits), £5bn created from clamping down on those pesky tax evaders…

Earn more than £150,000? Conservatives will restrict tax relief on pensions for the top earners. So you can pay less in without being taxed = more money for the government.

Manifesto Decoded: SO. MANY. GIVEAWAYS.

View the full Conservative Manifesto here….



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What else do you feel the Tories aren’t quite covering? Let us know in the comment box below.

Explaining Climate Change

Environmentalists: “No matter what anyone says, climate change is leading to a warming world. As nice as the sun may feel on your back, it’s not a good thing and carbon emissions aren’t helping.”

The rest of us: “Scientific words mean nothing to me”.

Scenes of Reason: “Before you write this off get decoded…”