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Can pro-lifers give to Children in Need?

Posted by Alithea Williams on 16 November 2018

Since 1980, Children in Need has raised £972 million for disadvantaged children. But is a media run umbrella organisation the best way of helping children? And does it pose any problems for pro-lifers?

It's that time of year again. Celebrities galore are donning bear ears and making fools of themselves on national television, all in the name of charity. That's right, today is Children In Need day. The BBC's annual fundraising extravaganza is something of a national institution - it will be all over the television, there will be fundraising efforts in many workplaces, and especially in schools. This leads many of us to ask if there is any problem with pro-lifers supporting Children In Need. 

What is Children in Need?

BBC Children in Need is not really a charity in itself (although it is registered as one). It is an umbrella organisation, whose function is to give grants to a large number of smaller charities across the country. According to the BBC website, Children in Need is currently supporting over 2,700 projects in communities across the UK. The lists of projects are broken down by region.

So what's the problem?

I have written before about the importance of doing research before we give to charity. Where our money goes is a decision we make - one that matters. The first problem with huge media charity campaigns like Children in Need (as with Comic Relief) is that they make doing research almost impossible. It takes long enough to read the names of all 2700 odd projects, let alone doing any in depth research into what they all do. How can we make an informed decision on where our money goes in these circumstances?

Secondly, we can't assume that an organisation does good work just because it is listed as a charity. Marie Stopes International, one of the biggest abortion providers in the world, is a registered charity! While it's simple to discount charities like this whose core aims are completely opposed to the pro-life position, it isn't always that easy. Many charities have generally good aims and also support abortion and other anti-life practices, sometimes in unexpected ways.

What does this have to do with Children in Need?

Children in Need does not tend to fund projects that directly provide abortion. BPAS and Marie Stopes do not quite fit the criteria of small local projects. However, the issue is far more often finding out if generally good charities also support abortion.

Sadly, we don't live in a pro-life culture. There's no reason why the organisers of Children in Need would be basing their selection of charities on whether they directly (or more likely indirectly) support any anti-life practices. We can't just assume they'll all be fine.

For instance, it is often the case that projects doing very good work generally, such as rape crisis centres (many of which are being funded this year), will provide or refer for abortion and potentially abortifacient birth control. Children in Need has also made grants to numerous sexual health centres and to projects supporting young people with same-sex attraction. Such centres and projects often support and/or facilitate legal abortion, abortifacient birth control and/or damaging forms of sex education. 

An example of a project funded in 2016 which one might not expect to be problematic is the Manchester Deaf Centre. However, the particular project being funded was a collaboration with Brook (an outspoken promoter of abortion) to deliver sessions "which deal with sex, religion, personal rights and sexuality for deaf children and young people in Manchester."

Almost inevitably, digging through the 2700 current projects would reveal issues problematic for pro-lifers.

So what to do?

Many will say that supporting Children in Need is legitimate because only a small amount of money will go towards supporting abortion. But this seems rather feeble. Where we decide to give our money to is a decision that matters, and one we have control over. We have to pay our taxes, even though some of that money will go to NHS funded abortion. We don't have to give to a particular charity, especially when we have the option to choose one where there's no chance at all our money will be spent on abortion.

Rather than give money to an umbrella charity, which will spread it out among over 2700 charities; why not give to one or two you definitely feel you can support? If you still want the fun of watching the show, and are moved by a particular appeal, there's nothing stopping you researching that cause, and giving directly to it. That way, they'll have your full donation, not just a tiny fraction of it, and you'll be 100% sure that none of your money is supporting abortion or other anti-life practices.

You can also contact Children in Need, and express your concerns. Many of us doing so might make the organisers seriously consider people's ethical concerns when selecting the projects they fund. This isn't about attacking the good works charities do, or maligning the intentions of those who support them- it's about working towards a state of affairs where every penny of our charitable giving goes to causes which truly respect life at every stage.

Add your comment
  • John Blore said:

    16/11/2018 17:28

    I cannot support these comments by the SPUC thought police. We all support a number of charities that would not tick every ethical box. Children in Need mobilises huge support for very deserving causes. Like it or not, abortion is supported by many who give to it, and although abortion is a sad and tragic matter, we should not be seen to stand against people who are that bringing such good into the lives of children, which, incidentally, SPUC is all about.

  • James said:

    16/11/2018 17:42

    Many thanks for this piece. It is a huge problem these umbrella charities. Far better to give to specific charities that you can believe in and examine. This is not "Thought Police". This is about encouraging people to be principled about their giving.

  • Concerned Christian said:

    16/11/2018 21:14

    I’m a practising Catholic, was a volunteer for Life for many years AND I am employed by a charity that is directly funded by Children In Need. This article deeply troubles me and leads me to reconsider life long support of SPUC. It’s been brewing for a while, having watched SPUC spokespeople in recent years come across as anything but Christian in interviews on nationwide media. The charity I work for brings joy, compassion and understanding into the lives of hundreds of children with disabilities and their families most of whom face social exclusion. They come to us weekly and they get to know love, freedom from judgement and total acceptance for who they are. Many of these children could have been aborted due to the severity of their disabilities and the attitudes of society towards the disabled. Without charities like ours what would happen to them? We give them quality of life. We give them a platform and empower them. If that isn’t pro-life what is? Yet you, SPUC, seek to harm us by trying to ensure that we do not receive funding. And by doing that you directly harm some of the most vulnerable of society. While hours of images flow past on our screens tonight of children with terminal illness, homeless youngsters sleeping in freezing conditions, young carers etc etc, you have the cruelty and arrogance to encourage us not to donate and in doing so guarantee these children will lose their hospice care, their night shelters and their one week a year’s respite. And all whilst having absolutely no evidence that Children in Need funds abortion. What exactly do YOU do to support families and bring joy, support and hope into the lives of sick and disadvantaged children? What alternative do you actually offer? This militant judgement and smug attitude needs to stop. And you have the audacity to do it in the name of Jesus Christ Our Lord. It’s attitudes like this that give Christians and pro-lifers a bad name. Your actions are not Christian. I will pray for you, that you understand the error of your ways and just how damaging this could be for the children who are supported by CIN. I will not be donating to SPUC in future but I will continue to support CIN.

  • Ernie said:

    17/11/2018 05:29

    Anyone who makes the ludicrous assertion - “(The) SPUC (are) thought police” – anyone who believes killing unborn children “brings such good into their lives” really ought to keep his nonsense to himself. Abortion is killing, no discussion. Me - I oppose killing unborn children.

  • Chris Newton said:

    17/11/2018 10:35

    Great article! I agree.

  • Alithea Williams said:

    19/11/2018 10:45

    Wow, this has caused a lot of discussion! Thanks for leaving a comment. I'd like to emphasise two points. SPUC provides services like the Charities Bulletin (and blog posts like this one) in response to calls from the SPUC membership, who are concerned that the money they donate to charity may be used for unethical purposes. Many people said that they found my past blogs on charities useful, so it made sense to write one about a prominent charity event like Children in Need. Of course I can't presume to tell anyone what to do - I was giving information and suggestions based on a frequently expressed demand from SPUC members. You'll also notice that I suggested that people donate DIRECTLY to charities they feel they can support, rather than donating to "umbrella charities" which may pass on donations to groups that will use the funds for abortion or other anti-life practices. That's really my main point - the importance of knowing exactly what you are giving to. I took pains to say that this isn't about attacking the good work charities do. For instance, the project Concerned Christian referred to sounds wonderful, and rather proves my point. Knowing what that particular charity does, I would be happy to support it - but I would rather give to it directly, rather than have the small amount I could give spread between 2700 projects (and BBC admin fees), many of which I would not otherwise choose to give to. This was the alternative I suggested. Finally, although I did not anywhere claim a Christian justification for my post, I had hoped that offering information people often ask for, and suggesting a way that concerned supporters could help vulnerable children without any of their money going to causes they disapprove of, was an example of Christian charity. I am sorry if anyone got a different impression, and prayers are always appreciated. Alithea (blog author)

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