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The headmaster of Tristram Hunt’s former school in Hampstead has given him a telling off. John Stillwell/PA Wire

Labour’s attack on tax breaks for private schools is timely

The furore over the suggestion by shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt that private schools need to contribute more to state education or face the removal of their tax breaks has been predictable…
At least they’re trying. Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Songs of love, songs of hate and songs of Ebola

I was living and working in Africa at the time of Band Aid 1984. I found the song Do They Know it’s Christmas? cloying, but I recognised that it was mobilising ordinary citizens towards concern and compassion…
Sainsbury’s Christmas ad has been criticised for using World War I to serve its bottom line. Sainsbury's

Selling charity at Christmas, from Sainsbury’s to Band Aid

Sainsbury’s Christmas advert has stoked considerable controversy. It involves a cinematic re-telling of the “Christmas Truce”, where Allied and German soldiers ceased fighting on Christmas Day and played…
Bob Geldof and Midge Ure announce that they will produce a record to help fight Ebola in west Africa. John Stillwell/PA Wire

From Band Aid to Dapper Laughs, charity songs are all about hitting the right tone

The charity song is an odd thing. Generally composed with the simple intent of raising money for a cause, the musical quality of the thing somehow falls by the wayside. In the charts, it’s an anomaly…
Clare Balding and Frankie Dettori take the challenge. Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Ice bucket good, neknomination bad? It’s all just self-promotion

Now that every celebrity under the sun and every Facebook user has posted a video of themselves getting wet, it appears we have reached peak ice bucket. A trend that started as a drive to raise awareness…
In China, former basketball star Yao Ming takes the Ice Bucket Challenge at his NBA Yao School in Beijing. EPA/NBA Yao School

Critics pour cold water on the Ice Bucket Challenge: are they right?

The Ice Bucket Challenge has been called “one of the most viral philanthropic social media campaigns in history”. The campaign has raised the profile of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). But some…
Cardinal George Pell reportedly led Catholic Church lobbying of the government to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission. AAP/Dean Lewins

Charitable treatment by regulator belies church complaints

The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) was created by the former federal Labor government and began operation in December 2012. It is so new that some charities are yet to be required…
We can’t always see no evil. Alicakes

Charity campaigns may cause outrage, but shock sells

A campaign for Pancreatic Cancer Action recently stirred up controversy over advertising “shock tactics”. In the advert, genuine sufferers of the disease stated to camera that “I wish I had testicular…

National regulation ineffective for charities

The scrapping of the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) should not be seen as discouraging, considering…
Blanket Burmese School.

Shopping for change this Christmas

Four-year-old Ar Zin stared at my bag. He knew there was something special inside. The classroom full of 30 Burmese refugee children was so hushed that I could each child’s breath, and Ar Zin’s eyes followed…
Breast cancer pink has become the signifier of a new feminism more concerned with awareness than protest. GaiaRae Veliz/Flickr

Girlie or girl power? Breast cancer and the cult(ure) of pink

Pinktober, when hundreds of products turn pink for breast cancer, is a curious month – more carnival than commemoration; more rose-coloured glasses than true blue conscious raising. Concerns have been…
Is the number of Australians in poverty increasing, or are the statistics being interpreted inaccurately? Flickr\Vermin Inc

Shame or sham? Assessing poverty in Australia

Over two million Australians are currently living in poverty, according to a report released yesterday by Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS). Dr Cassandra Goldie of ACOSS says that it is a “national…
Beyond charity: philanthropists want a stake in giving. Broken Simulacra / flickr.com

Is ‘philanthrocapitalism’ the future of Australian charities?

The collapse of the child-care business ABC Learning in 2010 was an extraordinary chapter in Australian corporate history. Colourful Queensland businessman Eddy Groves, built the world’s largest publicly…

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