I think we all know about one type of fake charity? The ones where almost every penny raised goes on either paying for those who run the charity or into more fundraising to, err, pay those who run the charity? Allow me to introduce you to a new form of fake charity, one that has risen rather large in our political discourse in recent years.

My own eye opener came when I was pointed to the accounts of Friends of the Earth Europe. Some 50% of their money comes from the European Union. That in itself isn't too appalling, but FoE Europe's work is to lobby the European Union.  You can imagine how this might go then...the taxpayer gets gouged so that a lobby group can be seen to be urging a course of action upon those who have gouged the taxpayer in order to be lobbied. Lobbied to do something that they already wanted to do but need some public lobbying to provide the fig leaf perhaps.

This is not though an isolated incident. Via the excellent and very new fakecharities.org we find that many of those "charities" which appear in our national media are in fact little better than such State funded lobbying organisations. Taxes are taken from us so that the government can pay for the government to be lobbied, providing that fig leaf of a vocal campaign telling them (and us, more importantly) that what they've already decided to do is obviously a jolly good idea indeed.

You can see how the whole idea works here (although those of nervous dispositions might want to install that special anti-swearing filtering software). Perhaps the most egregious example uncovered as yet is Alcohol Concern. Out of an income in one year of just shy of £1 million, 57% came from the Department of Health...and yes, Alcohol Concern has been and is quite vociferous in its lobbying of the Department of Health on how access to alcohol can and should be restricted. Private donations were a tad shy of £5,000 (yes, that's five thousand, not five hundred thousand nor even fifty thousand) so their income from real people actually supporting their efforts was less than 0.5% of their total income. It's extremely difficult to see that this is a charity and even more difficult to see why theiy should been given any credence whatsoever in the media.

Might I suggest that in the spirit of this new citizen journalism, this new idea that we ourselves can and should investigate those who rule us, you pop over to fakecharities.org and give them a helping hand? Crack open a set of charitable accounts and see who is the sockpuppet and who is genuinely working independently? I seem to recall that someone proved that the Work Foundation was eating its capital, a thought which would make an interesting addition, anyone got other interesting such tidbits to add to the database?