MPs should donate their payrise if they really don’t want it

UK MPs are to have a payrise of £8000 which many say they don’t want. They may be unable to avoid it because their salaries are set by an independent body. So they should give it away. Giving Evidence’s Caroline Fiennes has this letter in the Financial Times today:

Dear Sir,
If MPs truly don’t want to receive their proposed payrise as some are claiming, they could donate it to charity or other social-purpose organisations. Such donations can be made well or badly, and such organisations vary between fantastically effective and useless. Giving Evidence, which supports donors to give well, is happy to advise any MP on expertly offloading their windfall.
Yours, Caroline Fiennes

If you are an MP – or anyone else – wanting to donate money or other resources, do get in touch, at enquiries [at] giving-evidence [dot] com 

Some quick pointers:

– ‘they could donate to charity or other social purpose organisations’: Much charitable work and ‘good work’ is done by entities which aren’t registered charities. For instance, social enterprises, co-operatives and mutuals, some arts organisations, and some universities aren’t charities, for good reasons.  The ‘charitable work’ in which you’re interested may be best done by local authorities, individuals (e.g., artists, carers), or even for-profit companies, e.g., developing pharmaceutical drugs.  There’s a whole chapter on this in It Ain’t What You Give.

– ‘such donations can be made well or badly’. One bad way of giving is to divide the funds between loads of recipients,  as we discussed in Freakonomics. The bad ways become more pronounced, and worse, when giving at scale, as illustrated by NatWest’s Community Force programme.

– ‘such organisations vary between fantastically effective and useless’: this article and this one document sizeable variation in the effectiveness of charitable programmes. Here are examples of charitable programmes which don’t work, and here is perhaps one of the worst charities in the world.

– If you just want some good organisations to fund, look at those we’ve recommended, are recommended by Giving What We Can or GiveWell. If you’re giving a lot, are a company, want to be engaged with orgs which you’re funding, and/or can’t the lists mentioned don’t have a good fit for you, do get in touch.

And never, ever judge a charity by its admin costs. Here’s why–>

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