Monday, 5 January 2009

Subtext and subterfuge

Recently in my travels and travails around the city of Wolverhampton, I came across a substantially large advertisement which looked a little like this:

Which I thought was interesting. Beyond the obvious point being made, the implication that belief in a god and belief in Santa Claus were comparable struck me as unusual in what is a relatively mainstream commercial context. My first thought was that you wouldn't get that in the U.S., at least not without tremendous uproar. Perhaps I'm wrong though - I welcome any comments on the matter.

What was more interesting was the logo in the corner, showing that it was an advert for the Prince's Trust. The Prince (of Wales) isn't exactly well known for his liberal views on anything other than the barmier portions of pseudoscience, so this was a surprise. Perhaps, being simply the founder and figurehead of the organisation, he remains unaware of this particular campaign. Again, I could easily be wrong on this score.

What this allows me to do, however, is mention the charity's work itself. The Prince's Trust has a commendable mission of supporting young people in business and personal development, but I don't intend to give them any money any time soon - and not just because I'm penniless.

Firstly, some of their top dogs (or fat cats) are earning in excess of £80,000 per year. That's too much, even for those at the top, considering the organisation is set up purely for the benefit of young people looking to better themselves. Well, as long as the majority of its income goes on that, I guess it's not so bad, right? Right. Sadly this is not the case. The figures from the 2006/7 financial year are reported as follows on the Wikipedia page:

So from a total income of nearly £51 million, less than £21 million was spent on directly helping young people.

Of course, charities need administration/promotion/etc costs. But 40% of income being spent on the charity's target is simply not good enough.

I cannot deny that the Trust does good work, nor indeed that their advertising caught my eye on this occasion; but it's not a charity I intend to patronise.

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