IT has become a case of she said, they said.

When Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis this week announced it was closing its waiting list and ending a support project for girls due to loss of funding, its manager said she had been told – informally – that the charity wasn’t doing enough to support men and boys. But the BBC’s Children in Need, which funded the girls’ project for six years, responded saying this was not true, and there simply wasn’t enough money to go around.

So who should we – the public, the licence-payers, the donation-givers – believe? The charity, reeling from the loss of vital cash, or the funder, burdened with the responsibility of making “really difficult decisions” when faced with a flood of applications and finite resources?

READ MORE: Rape crisis centre to re-open after Holyrood cash injection

When the Scottish Government swiftly stepped in to plug the funding shortfall, it seemed like the story would disappear from the headlines. But then Forth Valley Rape Crisis Centre announced the closure of its own waiting list – citing failure to reach a funding agreement with SNP-led Falkirk Council.

The questions both of these developments raise about charity, transparency and responsibility are vitally important ones. The Government can’t simply open the public purse every time a charity gets a knock-back from the third sector, so what criteria will be used when it comes to providing or withholding lifelines?

You might imagine that Children In Need, which funds more than 300 projects in Scotland annually to the tune of £18.8 million, would have provided a comprehensive explanation for why it was ending support for a rape crisis service tailored to the needs of young women aged 13 to 18.

This is a funder that is trusted by the British public to make fair, informed judgments about how to allocate large sums of charity cash. It, along with other major funders like the Big Lottery Fund, is expected to ensure every penny is well spent. The section on its website detailing common reasons for rejection covers everything from safeguarding to financial management. It highlights the importance of inclusivity and accessibility (particularly for disabled children and “hard-to-reach” populations) but makes no mention of gender.

It’s not very common for charities to offer a peek behind the Wizard of Oz’s curtain by discussing the specific reasons behind funding decisions. Of course, if they’ve been found wanting in terms of, say, safety, staff conduct or balancing the books, they’re hardly likely to trumpet about it. But Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis insists Children in Need’s funding officers were very positive about its work, and the official rejection letter offered no proper explanation for the decision.

Funding applications take up a vast amount of charities’ time and resources. Some appoint dedicated fundraising staff to prepare them – employees who, effectively, have to raise enough funds to cover their own salaries before they can provide a net benefit to the charity – while the smaller ones muddle along, juggling frontline service delivery with the laborious process of “evidencing” the value of that work. And if you’re imagining that completing dozens of funding applications per year amounts to little more than a copy-and-paste exercise, you’d be wrong.

Not only do different funders make different demands, but the goal posts for each are constantly shifting. The experience of Glasgow and Clyde Rape Crisis shows that securing funding one year does not guarantee the same outcome for the same project three years later. The process of chasing funding is a relentless, never-ending hustle that makes long-term planning virtually impossible.

Publicly criticising a decision by a funding body might, in the short term, attract press attention that leads to a spike in donations, but it’s not possible to plan a future based on the assumption that a clutch of direct debits will continue and supporters will keep running 10K races. In the long run it’ll be necessary to go back and knock on the same major-funder doors. Even when the Government does step in, a one-off cash injection simply buys time to get back on the funding-application treadmill, all the while striving to maintain the services that have been officially deemed too important to disappear.

READ MORE: Scottish rape charity in funding crisis for not doing 'enough for men'

If survivors of sexual violence are to be properly supported, charities need to be able to attract the right workers, for the right period of time – not just whoever happens to be available to take up a six-month contract. Those in charge need to know that when a 13-year-old sexual abuse survivor is added to a waiting list, she will definitely get the top of that list – even if it takes three, six, nine months – and receive the support she so desperately needs.

Of course charities should be registered, scrutinised and required to demonstrate the positive impact of their work – no-one’s suggesting cash should be handed out with no questions asked. But why must they jump through countless hoops to please an array of different funders whose own decision-making processes are not nearly as transparent as they could be?

The charities themselves are in a bind here, because donors want to believe their money is being spent on services like counselling, not fruitless admin exercises. Admit how much time and energy is being wasted, and they risk losing support. Keep quiet, and the status quo will prevail, staff will shoulder the extra labour, and ultimately it will be those most in need who suffer.