I used to tithe a proportion of my earnings to Oxfam. At least three friends of mine have worked for them. One of them wrote the organisation’s first official monograph on the genocide in Rwanda.

I stopped giving Oxfam my money when they sent me junk mail inviting me to invest in a so-called ethical fund—that’s “fund” in the financial rather than charitable sense of the word—run by a company connected to a senior figure in the organisation. Presumably their database inferred from the size of my donations that I was rich and their marketing department inferred from my previous co-operative silence that I was stupid.

I wrote to them explaining why I had cancelled my direct debit and why I would have nothing more to do with them. They sent me a letter back, addressing me by my (misspelled) first name, but failing to address seriously any of my objections, and asking me to think again. They might as well have said: “Shut up and give us your dosh, Damien.” They continued to send me junk mail until I wrote again to object to that as well. In short, despite my knowing some lovely people who have worked there, I distrust and dislike Oxfam.

Oxfam recently had a falling out with Starbucks, previously another for-profit collaborator of theirs, and the two sides have taken the fight to YouTube.

Another of my friends works for an interesting new blog-style financial information service called “Seeking Alpha“. If you can bear the excruciating English (not written by my friend)

[I]n our view, irrespective of going the certification process or the intellectual property route, in order for the coffee farmers to share in any incremental value—such as an increase in annual income—necessitates a transparent system that shows how the money is going back to the farmers.

then you might be interested in the view of one of their commentators on the story.