Not Having a Bean

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One odd thing about the CharityJOB recruitment site is that there isn’t, as far as the F.A.Q. seems to indicate, any requirement that advertisers must actually be charitable under some plausible definition or legal registration. Cosmo Coffee’s advertisements for such skilled professional work as graphic design, administrative support, H.R. support and market research, among other roles, list these as home-based voluntary work. Graphic and Web design are presented as competitions: if yours is the winning entry, you hand over the rights in exchange for a year’s service as a prize. (Submit a website design and you ‘can use your design for your portfolio and we will even through [sic] in a reference if needed’.) This is voluntary in the sense that any competition is, but not the sort of ‘volunteer’ work the word normally conjures in the mind. Then there are the other ‘volunteer’ roles, which, of course, also pay in coffee. Plus miscellaneous other things that are also not money, such as this one: ‘Your name included on our website and annual reports.’ This appears to be ‘voluntary’ work in the sense of doing what’s really a job but not getting the salary due to a worker.

For reasons unknown, these adverts are showing up under CharityJOB’s ‘Arts, Culture, Heritage’ category: not a consistently reputable sector of the economy when it comes to exploitation of workers, but still strange company for a coffee shop. Not a museum or gallery coffee shop; not a coffee shop promising to serve coffee through the medium of mime and dance; just ‘a modern, Italian styled coffee company’. They claim to be ‘an excellent employer and value [their] staff’, who, presumably, are worth their weight in coffee. They do not, however, appear to serve any charitable purpose; although, weirdly, their recruiter profile appears to link them to a charity called Urban Youth, as does that of a media outfit called Dark Majesty Productions, which at least proclaims itself to be not for profit. As for Cosmo Coffee, an advert for a training support worker on another site says that they’re ‘looking for some volunteers to help [them] get the company off the ground’. Some startups offer shares; others, it seems, offer coffee. I’d like to offer a charitable interpretation of these adverts, but, well, selling coffee isn’t a charitable aim. Though they do get bonus points for not using the word ‘internship’.

Update: CharityJOB have removed the Cosmo Coffee adverts after being notified that they lacked a charitable aim, so clearly they do impose that requirement when told about breaches. The linked advert on gumtree.com also seems to have disappeared shortly after being reported.

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