Charity Financials Insider

Handle on happiness

23 December 2010

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is to build an index which measures national wellbeing.

While indicators such as GDP and RPI1 give one perspective of economic development, David Cameron has taken the view these are insufficient.The ONS2 has confirmed that the initiative was prompted by a report on the measurement of economic performance and social progress, authored by Professors Joseph Stiglitz, Amartya Sen and Jean-Paul Fitoussi and commissioned by French president Nicolas Sarkozy.3

UK national statistician Jill Matheson said: “We must measure what matters – the key elements of national well-being. There is no shortage of numbers that could be used to construct measures of well-being, but they will only be successful if they are widely accepted and understood.

We want to develop measures based on what people tell us matters most.” She said questions would be added to the ONS household survey from next April but she wanted the public to help come up with the sort of questions that should be asked. The first official measure of the nation's well-being would be published in summer 2012.

Jennifer Thomas and Joanne Evans of the ONS have produced a useful briefing article: ‘There’s more to life than GDP, but how can we measure it?’ which sets out the ONS’ approach to ‘progress the societal wellbeing agenda by working with others.’4

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has made the point to the government and the ONS that the research should: “measure charitable giving as one of the indicators for wellbeing in their planned index.”

The charity explains: “previous research, including our ‘World Giving Index’,5 has shown that there is a clear link between giving time and money to charity and levels of wellbeing. Further promoting individual giving would benefit not only charities but donors and society as a whole.”

This was supported by Lord Brooke of Sutton Mandeville in the House of Lords Philanthropy debate on 2 December 2010 (see page 5 Caritas January 2011). The National Wellbeing Consultation opened on 25 November 2010 and closes on 15 April 2011.

Details of how to respond can be found on:

1.The core indicators are explained in ‘Reading the runes’ Caritas Guide to Finance, December 2010, p28.

2. See the Caritas October 2009 editorial which first mentions this




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Clarissa Dann

Clarissa Dann was the editor of Caritas as well as an HR and management online service,he People Bulletin until July 2011.

She is now the editor of the specialist trade finance magazine, Trade and Forfaiting Review which can be viewed at but does write on charity finance and investment from time to time.

Clarissa has a background in legal and professional publishing, as well as business journalism and holds an MBA from Cass Business School. She has been one of the judges for the non-profit category of the Chartered Institute of Marketing's Excellence in Marketing Awards for the second year running.

She has also acted as clerk to the trustees of a small almshouses charity and as a member nominated trustee to a pension scheme of a multinational publishing company.


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