Susan Smith argues that the difficulties the Kiltwalk has faced are a reminder to keep charitable purposes in clear focus
Children’s charity fundraiser the Kiltwalk will be hoping that the departure of its chief executive Carey McEvoy will draw a line under the recent stream of bad news stories.
The organisation, which was set up as an independent charity in 2012, has enjoyed tremendous success and it is hoped that it will go on to raise millions more for Scottish charities over the next few years.
Recent stories mean this may take longer than anticipated but public concerns about whether the the way the charity is run is leading to the best possible outcome for its charity partners are better addressed now.
In the day-to-day running of offices, staff, marketing and publicity campaigns, charities must keep their focus clear and ensure everything they do is for public benefit
One issue for fundraising organisations is that the world of public giving has changed dramatically in the last decade or so. The rise of sporting challenges has coincided with a general focus on the importance of healthy lifestyles and exercise amongst the public, while technology has made it so much easier for people to give.
Fundraisers like the Kiltwalk, which have a creative and popular concept, can therefore enjoy huge growth spurts that in themselves can lead to problems. Suddenly, what was a small one-man show becomes a multi-million pound enterprise, and all the challenges that go alongside this in the business world – how to grow without overstretching yourself – apply.
In the increasingly professional world of charity, it is easy for quick wins to go to your head. The problem, as the Kiltwalk has found, is that public scrutiny of charities is tough. Perhaps unfairly, the public expect charitable bodies to be above reproach, selflessly toiling for a better society and staffed by and large by volunteers.
The Kiltwalk has always denied any wrongdoing and ultimately it has raised and will continue to raise large amounts of money for children's charities. There may be an argument for promoting a more professional, modern image that accepts that growth requires investment, but the basic truth is that charities are set up to help a disadvantaged group or groups. In the day-to-day running of offices, staff, marketing and publicity campaigns, charities must keep their focus clear and ensure everything they do is for public benefit.
It is sad to see The Kiltwalk having to downsize its staff team, but it is to be congratulated for facing up to its issues, and re-evaluating to ensure it can go on to raise as much possible money for children’s charities in Scotland.