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Tough New Charity Fundraising Regulator To Ensure High Standards

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The body charged with regulating fundraising must be closed down and replaced with a more effective outfit with tougher sanctions, a review of the self-regulatory system has recommended.

The review, commissioned by the government following concerns about how charities have made contact with potential donors, says that the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) has been ineffective in regulating fundraising and has lost the confidence of the public and charities. It recommends it be replaced with a more powerful body with the public interest at its heart, which can ensure that vulnerable people are protected.

The review says the new regulator should set its own standards for fundraising good practice. Currently, the FRSB adjudicates against standards set by fundraisers themselves via their trade body, the Institute of Fundraising. The panel believe this is an inappropriate arrangement which is not in the public interest and has damaged fundraising regulation.

The FRSB has been in a weak position since its creation, having no control over the setting of standards, but has also been too eager to resolve complaints informally rather than taking tough action against breaches of the fundraising code, the panel found. The proposed Fundraising Regulator would be better funded by charities and have strong links with the Charity Commission and Information Commissioner to ensure charities followed its rules. It would have control over the rules charities must follow and would prioritise the public interest. All charities that spend over £100,000 a year on fundraising from the public, around 2,000 organisations, would be expected to contribute to the costs of the regulator.

The review also recommends the creation of a new ‘Fundraising Preference Service’ for the public to opt out of fundraising communications. The simple service would act as a ‘reset button’ for those who are unhappy with the number of charities contacting them. The service would be overseen by the new regulator. It would oblige charities to stop sending fundraising requests or making phone calls to those who have opted out. It would mean the public could opt out of fundraising requests from multiple charities without the inconvenience of contacting them separately.

Members of the public would still be able to receive information from those charities they are interested in by opting in to hear from them subsequently.

Charities registered with the new regulator would be entitled to use a kitemark to demonstrate to the public that they adhere to the rules. Charities which seriously or persistently breach the rules would be named and shamed and could be forced to halt their fundraising until problems are resolved.

The review panel comprised three peers from different political parties, Lord Leigh of Hurley, Baroness Pitkeathley, and Lord Wallace of Saltaire, and was chaired by Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations.

The panel recommends that the new regulator, provisionally entitled The Fundraising Regulator, reports to parliament’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on a regular basis to ensure parliament has an opportunity to scrutinise its work on the public’s behalf.

Commenting, Sir Stuart Etherington said: ‘Britain is a tremendously generous country, and people have enormous goodwill for charities. But charities must not take that for granted. We seem to have found ourselves in a position where charities didn’t think hard enough about what it was like to be on the receiving end of some of their fundraising methods. They thought too much about the ends and not enough about the means. This has been a clear wake-up call and now is the time to tighten the standards.

‘The current system of self-regulation has quite clearly failed to prevent serious breaches of trust and widespread dissatisfaction. I believe the changes we propose will be an effective way to reform the system.

‘The reality is that most people give to charities when they are asked to, rather than spontaneously, so charities do need to ask. But they should inspire people to give, not pressure them to. We need to see a shift to long-term thinking where charities form meaningful relationships with donors. This will be a more sustainable approach.

‘I understand the public are frustrated when they feel they can’t easily control what they receive from charities. The new Fundraising Preference Service will mean that the public have a reset button for communications from charities, ensuring they only hear from those they want to.

‘I am confident that charities understand the pressing need to restore confidence in fundraising and will back these proposals.’

Lord Leigh said: ‘We must do everything we can to protect the special position of trust that charities hold. Charities should be a conduit by which the public’s time, energy and donations can be transformed into work that benefits society. But that must mean a partnership between charities and donors, rather than donors being seen as a means to an end. I believe the regulatory framework we have proposed will help to ensure the highest standards in fundraising and care of donors.’

Baroness Pitkeathley said: ‘This is an issue of great public interest and concern. I know that charities understand this and that they are aware that changes are required. The mechanism to hold the new regulator to account, reporting to the public administration and constitutional affairs committee, will be an important way of ensuring that it remains effective and the public interest is upheld.’

Lord Wallace said: ‘Charities are playing an ever-greater role in society. This is something that many of us welcome. But with this greater role comes a responsibility to work to the highest standards of integrity and accountability. We believe that our proposals will ensure charities will know the standards expected of them and live up to them.’

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Environment

Two Ancient Japanese Philosophies Are the Future of Eco-Living

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Eco-Living
Shutterstock Photos - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Our obsession with all things new has blighted the planet. We have a waste crisis, particularly when it comes to plastic. US scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made – 8.3 billion tons! Unfortunately, only 9% of this is estimated to have been recycled. And current global trends point to there being 12 billion tons of plastic waste by 2050.

However, two ancient Japanese philosophies are providing an antidote to the excesses of modern life. By emphasizing the elimination of waste and the acceptance of the old and imperfect, the concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi have positively influenced Japanese life for centuries.

They are now making their way into the consciousness of the Western mainstream, with an increasing influence in the UK and US. By encouraging us to be frugal with our possessions, (i.e. using natural materials for interior design) these concepts can be the future of eco-living.

What is Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai??

Wabi-Sabi emphasizes an acceptance of transience and imperfection. Although Wabi had the original meaning of sad and lonely, it has come to describe those that are simple, unmaterialistic and at one with nature. The term Sabi is defined as the “the bloom of time”, and has evolved into a new meaning: taking pleasure and seeing beauty in things that are old and faded. 

Any flaws in objects, like cracks or marks, are cherished because they illustrate the passage of time. Wear and tear is seen as a representation of their loving use. This makes it intrinsically linked to Wabi, due to its emphasis on simplicity and rejection of materialism.

In the West, Wabi-Sabi has infiltrated many elements of daily life, from cuisine to interior design. Specialist Japanese homeware companies, like Sansho, source handmade products that embody the Wabi-Sabi philosophy. Their products, largely made from natural materials, are handcrafted by traditional Japanese artisans – meaning no two pieces are the same and no two pieces are “perfect” in size or shape.

Mottainai

Mottainai is a term expressing a feeling of regret concerning waste, translating roughly in English to either “what a waste!” or “Don’t waste!”. The philosophy emphasizes the intrinsic value of a resource or object, and is linked to hinto animism, the notion that all objects have a spirit, or ‘kami’. The idea that we are part of nature is a key part of Japanese psychology.

Mottainai also has origins in Buddhist philosophy. The Buddhist monastic tradition emphasizes a life of frugality, to allow us to concentrate on attaining enlightenment. It is from this move towards frugality that a link to Mottainai as a concept of waste can be made.

How have Wabi-Sabi and Mottainai promoted eco living?

Wabi-Sabi is still a prominent feature of Japanese life today, and has remained instrumental in the way people design their homes. The ideas of imperfection and frugality are hugely influential.

For example, instead of buying a brand-new kitchen table, many Japanese people instead retain a table that has been passed through the generations. Although its long use can be seen by various marks and scratches, Wabi-Sabi has taught people that they should value it because of its imperfect nature. Those scratches and marks are a story and signify the passage of time. This is a far cry from what we typically associate with the Western World.

Like Wabi Sabi, Mottainai is manifested throughout Japanese life, creating a great respect for Japanese resources. This has had a major impact on home design. For example, the Japanese prefer natural materials in their homes, such as using soil and dried grass as thermal insulation.

Their influence in the UK

The UK appears to be increasingly influenced by thes two concepts. Some new reports indicate that Wabi Sabi has been labelled as ‘the trend of 2018’. For example, Japanese ofuro baths inspired the project that won the New London Architecture’s 2017 Don’t Move, Improve award. Ofuro baths are smaller than typical baths, use less water, and are usually made out of natural materials, like hinoki wood.

Many other UK properties have also been influenced by these philosophies, such as natural Kebony wood being applied to the external cladding of a Victorian property in Hampstead; or a house in Lancaster Gate using rice paper partitions as sub-dividers. These examples embody the spirit of both philosophies. They are representative of Mottainai because of their use of natural resources to discourage waste. And they’re reflective of Wabi-Sabi because they accept imperfect materials that have not been engineered or modified.

In a world that is plagued by mass over-consumption and an incessant need for novelty, the ancient concepts of Mottainai and Wabi-Sabi provide a blueprint for living a more sustainable life. They help us to reduce consumption and put less of a strain on the planet. This refreshing mindset can help us transform the way we go about our day to day lives.

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