Archive for the ‘Social & Society’ Category

Missing from a Children’s Home or Just Missing

Sometimes you come across a charity that you hope you never need. ‘Missing people’ captured my imagination for no apparent reason although they ran a list of missing people in the last Big Issue.

Charity number 1020419 ‘Missing People’ offers a lifeline for the 250,000 people who run away and go missing each year. For those left behind, they search and provide specialised support to end the heartache and confusion.’

Missing Children Europe is a European federation for missing and sexually exploited children. They operate   a European hotline telephone number 116 000  for missing children. The hotline is currently operational in all EU Member States with the above number  handled in the UK by Missing People.

This follows on from this months launch of an inquiry by the All Party Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults. Their report supported by the Department of Education says that 64%  of children living in children’s homes are living out of borough and of those 1990 children went missing last year, more than double the 2015 total. Anne Coffey, (MP for Stockport) and the groups chairman said, ‘Isolated and alone without family or friends they become prey targets for paedophiles and drug gangs and can become trapped in a brutal world. The children’s homes system is broken and catastrophically failing children and young people….’

Comment

  • Didn’t we learn when we sent children to Australia and Canada? Then at least there was a war going on.
  • Aren’t we learning when there are regular media reports of abuse, human trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Time for constructive action and greater moral fiber, not more inquiries.

Fund Raiser’s Targeting Tactics for Church of England?

We have all suspected charities target products and specific sectors of society to obtain increased donations.  So it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Church Of England looks set to increase their use these tactics. In fact a twitter storm and media frenzy has just started.

Employing (in the loosest term) a new professional fund raising chief the Church is using someone who has urged charities to aim at the ‘forgetful’ and target ‘single, elderly, poor females’. Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood (aka Jonathan Farnhill) is the author of The Porcupine Principle a 2007 book that sought to show and use the  motivations of people who give.

Through case studies the book emphasises the benefit to a charity of donation by regular standing orders on the assumption that we tend to forget. That may explain some of the chugging harassment you still see on the high street. In a church context a direct debit to the ‘Parish Giving Scheme’ may appropriately be for life.  In another section Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood explains ‘those most likely no leave legacies to charities are single, elderly, poor females  …. and to target those most vulnerable to our fundraising messages’. A case of believing the end justifies the means.

On the Positive Side

  1. Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood,  became the Church of England’s National Advisor on Giving and Income Generation in January 2019 Previously he has been the Chief Executive, Chair and or trustee of various charities involved with deafness and audiology. As the Diocese of Oxford’s Generous Giving Adviser, Jonathan de Bernhardt Wood, he published Reflections on Living Generously a more wholesome view of religious charity in its true sense.  PDF
  2. In a further extract from  The Porcupine Principle he postulates  ‘What we do matters. Giving money is not some pointless exercise to assuage comfortable, middle-class guilt. It makes a difference and will continue to make a difference in perpetuity. How do you incorporate this within your giving message? By making sure that you show how generosity ripples outwards.
    Do not stop at saying a donation will take a homeless person off the streets. Talk about what they will do when they are off the streets. Who will they meet and what will they do? What acts of goodness will they now be able to do? Too often we end up talking about the process for achieving change, not the change itself.’
  3. It is better  to be informed about fund raising tactics and be in possession of the facts when considering donations and legacies.

 

 

Baubles to Charity Christmas Cards

Charity Christmas Cards

As the post Christmas clear up started I  reviewed  a selection of Christmas cards. The sample may be slightly slanted towards our circle of contacts but there are some common themes.

  • 57% 0f all cards had glitter and or foil that rendered them useless for recycling (44% of them were charity cards so they demonstrate slightly more concern for the environment)
  • Only 20% of all cards had a Christian theme and of those the largest group represented carols rather than religious scenes.
  • It appears that 74% of the sample were ‘charity cards’ or so it implies on the reverse of the card. ( That may be open to interpretation see below)
  • Only one e-card (1%) was received and there was little thought demonstrating concern for the environment and recycling.
  • For various reasons it seems as though charities sub-optimise the contribution these cards could make but perhaps rely on buyer inertia.

The Mercenary Bit

  • 70% of the charity cards were for single  individual causes. To me these are ‘true charity cards’. Some would be published on behalf of the charity others self published. It was not practical to understand how these had been sold for example direct through supporters and members or via various retailers. The return to the charity could vary considerably.
  • 30% of cards claimed to be in aid of more than one charity and were generally promoted by single major retailers including supermarkets and chains. These I call  ‘feel good cards’.
    • Two types of charitable fund raising were apparent – the lump sum approach was favoured by Tesco, Morrisons and M&S among others. A fixed donation sum was highlighted on the back of the card of between £50,000 and £350,000.
      That did not seem to relate to the volume or value of the card purchased. Perhaps it related more to the retailers  ‘corporate social responsibility agenda’.
    • The other method, a percentage of sale price was used by  Waitrose and Debenhams  contributing 10-20% or 10p per pack. That is more in line with what a purchasor would expect. The Debenham Foundation reg 1147682 raises over £1.75m over the year on various charitable activities.

Observations & Issues

 

As with many things the devil is in the detail. Even if it seems Scrooge like the card issue is worth giving some deeper thought.

  • It is my view that some of the charities had settled for an easy contribution to avoid the effort of organising a sensible fund raising operation of their own. Some retailers take a marketing advantage by offering low return for the charity cards sold.
  • Other parts of the supply chain including wholesalers, printers packers etc benefit from the card trade sales but it is unclear if or how they contribute to charity.
  • The cards commissioned for individual charities and those who arrange their own direct sales are likely to make the largest charitable contributions. Admittedly this carries some risk and administrative burdens.
  • No cards appeared to use the ‘promotional opportunity’ to solicit donations, highlight current isues or recruit new supporters with adverts and links.

 

One card came via a defunct publisher with a strong link to 1124224 – THE PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL CHARITY

In previous years funds of circa £30k per annum  were raised primarily for a range of charities through Christmas card sales made by the publisher ‘phoenix trading’ which went into administration in 2017. This bust outfit morphed into a phoenix itself called Flamingo Paperie for 2018 Christmas card sales. Call me cynical but the claim of ‘in excess of £1,887,000 worldwide fundraising’ beggars belief.

 

 

Political Posturing is Not a Charities Job

The organisations listed below or their representatives have collaborated or even colluded in ‘Brexit politics’ at a sensitive time. They jointly signed a letter published in the Daily Telegraph on 31st December 2018 copy below.

Campaigning charities have the right or even obligation to speak out but only after due consideration. Such a considered policy needs to have full approval within the organisation and logically should relate to current circumstance  rather than matters that are still uncertain. Members of charitable organisations and donors have the right to expect balanced views from their charity or risk alienation of a significant proportion of the stakeholders. This particular letter is emotive and the conclusions drawn are by no means certain.

The Signatories

Mike Clarke RSPB     Stephanie Hilborne The Wildlife Trusts   Beccy Speight Woodland Trust     Shaun Spiers Green Alliance     Crispin Truman Campaign to Protect Rural England    John Sauven Greenpeace   Martin Spray Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust   Craig Bennett Friends of the Earth   James Thornton ClientEarth   Sandy Luk Marine Conservation Society   Nick Mabey E3G    Dr Michael Warhurst CHEM Trust   Helen Browning  Soil Association

SIR – No one who loves Britain’s beautiful countryside, or cares about our environment more generally, should be in any doubt about the disastrous impact of a no-deal Brexit.

We can expect traffic chaos, with the garden of England turning into the lorry park of England. Dangerous chemicals will go unmonitored. Farmers will face huge uncertainty, with high tariffs on exports and livestock stuck at borders. And we will immediately lose the institutions that have ensured cleaner rivers and beaches, and safeguarded important habitats for wildlife.

The Government has promised a “green Brexit”. That depends on continued cooperation with the EU and a mutual commitment to the highest environmental standards. No deal is not an option for a greener UK. (Our highlights)

Opinion and Action

  • I will not renew my membership of some of these organisations
  • I am actively reviewing my support for the other causes signed up to this letter. Those who emphasis ‘doing’ good will be favoured over those who talk an ill timed fight.
  • I will continue to advocate that charities avoid controversial involvement in politics even when I am sympathetic to the underlying issues.

A Dickens of a Going on at The Retailers Charity

FASHION & TEXTILE CHILDREN’S TRUST 257136

In the 19th century when Charles Dickens was chairman this charity was called the ‘Warehousemen & Clerk’s School’ subsequently renamed Purley Children’s Trust, The Textile Industry’s  Children’s Trust and now glorying under the current name and focus. It helps the children of folk who have worked for more than a year in clothing retail, clothing manufacture, laundry or fashion.

Even today these sectors seldom offer secure, well paid jobs. In the UK the demise of so many retail outlets and foreign clothes imports has added to the stress such a charity may feel on behalf of their ‘clients’. Indeed they have helped 547 children at a cost of £198,184 this year but currently report on the website ‘…just a quick note to say we know we’ve been a bit quiet on this front recently. We’ve had a few comings and goings over the last few months, so things have been a bit up in the air!   ..’

I wanted a charity in this space where I could be positive and able to help as I can envisage a significant need. Large corporate mismanagement, high street closures, pension and redundancy problems must be depressing for staff in these areas. After looking through their reports and accounts  I have a couple of issues.

  • They have £8,950,000 pounds in reserves potentially built up over many decades of prudent even parsimonious policies and a school sale. At current levels of new grant  money already in the bank could cover 30 years further grants.
  • Have the charity added ‘Fashion’ to be in the fashion of broadening their remit to attract more requests from grantees? Is there an inclination to add to the core charitable remit rather than excelling on the real job to be done.
  • Salary costs are conservative but the ‘cost of raising funds’ at £95k is too high when only £36k is raised from donations and trading. The main 95% of  income comes from historic investment income. Hence there is little or no incentive for new donors to become involved.
  • The 600+ year old Drapers Company 251403 makes grants in similar areas including Education and Young People , Social Welfare and Textiles and Heritage with it’s £65m funds. Despite a higher income, reserves and profile I am still not sure they do a better job.

One in the Eye for Christ Church

1143423 – THE DEAN AND CHAPTER OF THE CATHEDRAL CHURCH OF CHRIST IN OXFORD OF THE FOUNDATION OF KING HENRY VIII
A bit of a mouthful but too much to swallow when the powers that be at this mega charity demonstrates their bullying and outdated views.

Professor Martyn Percy Dean of Christ Church has been under suspension since November 2018. He is accused of “conduct of an immoral, scandalous or disgraceful nature incompatible with the duties of the office or employment”. There has been no explanation or reasons for this action taken by a cabal of potentially only 7 out of 64 governors. Nor can the dean talk about the suspension even though he has not been given any details of the accusations.

The dean may be being punished for trying to ‘throw some light on the “poor governance” of the self-serving body which sets the salaries of College fellows. They objected to his interference, and determined to rid themselves of this meddlesome priest’. further details of bullying on archbishopcranmer.com blog

Fact or Fiction

  • Christ Church is both a cathedral, an Oxford college and a registered charity.
  • It has enormous funds and reserves of over half a billion pounds and large land and property assets conservatively valued in the accounts on a  historic cost basis.
  • In the past, Percy has been a thorn in parts of the hierarchy of the Church of England. He criticised its reform programme saying it was “driven by mission-minded middle managers” who were alienating clergy, congregations and the general public.
  • Revd John Witheridge, Honorary Chaplain at Christ Church, and a Chaplain to Her Majesty the Queen recently said about ethics that they are “an integral ingredient in Christian theology”. “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.”

Comment

Martyn Percy is not allowed to perform his duties in the cathedral or the college and potentially has lost his permission to officiate within the Church of England. There is no known appeals or grievance procedure until a tribunal reports. Shame on someone!

We often hear about the tip of the iceberg. When things are bad they are often far worse. Public bodies such as churches, charities and universities should be open frank and forthright. We are left to wait and see in this case but don’t hold your breath.

Bhopal a Basket Case

Bhopal a Man Made Disaster

What role should charity play as a result of a man made disaster? Strategically the polluter should pay then locally provided emergency help and ongoing victim support would be the norm. In some significant instance there are more needs for longer periods than first realised. Pushing the boundaries of science or more likely exploiting them for commercial gain created significant  issues at the Union Carbide pesticide factory in the Indian city of Bhopal. The ongoing failure to face all the corporate responsibilities leaves much for charities to do.

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

  • Bhopal chemical explosion at Union Carbide pesticide factory  happened as long ago as 1984. Bhopal Medical Appeal is a UK registered charity 1117526 that annually raises public  donations of over half a million pounds. There are negligible reserves to fall back on.
  • Most of the UK raised funds are spent in Bhopal on special clinics  run by the Sambhavna Trust and the Chingari Trust.
  • BMA spend 20% of their cash and resources campaigning for justice for survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster and question the lack of US political support.
  • The ground around the factory is heavily contaminated and poisonous drinking water has been the causing birth defects,  impacting on future births and creating medical problems not acknowledged by the company.
  • Dow Jones who took over Union Carbide has been accused in India of manslaughter but despite legal notices fought tooth and nail to avoid responsibility.

Issues And Concerns

A recent full page advert in the Daily Telegraph brought the issues back in to my conscious.  Keeping disasters in the public mind should keep health & safety on the agenda and help inform for future disasters.

The role of charities may be crucial but they are only bit players amongst lawyers, politicians, shareholders and corporate managers.

Update 4.8.19

Dow subsidiary, the Union carbide Corporation, remains wanted in India on the criminal charge of ‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’, for its part in the Bhopal Disaster, but Union Carbide has never bothered to answer the charge, nor attend court, and is a ‘proclaimed absconder’ in the eyes of the Indian judicial system.

Securities and Exchange Commission filings for the new Dow reveal that it expects to assume Union carbide’s liabilities……….. This is the first occasion on which notice will have been served since the merger with DuPont and the subsequent split into three ‘new’ companies and, as such, marks an extremely important legal milestone. Dow is required to attend court in Bhopal on November 13 2019.  from Bhopal Medical Appeal

Food Banks Are ‘Not Just for Christmas’

A Food Banks Need for Donations

Spare a thought and a tin or two for food banks who try to provide food throughout the year. There are glut seasons for food and produce donations around harvest festival and Christmas but the need is there throughout the year. Glut may be an inappropriate word and heavy seasonal donations at key times can be a life saver. The longer the use by date and more staple the food the better.

Speak to volunteers at your local food bank as they know first hand what the issues and needs are likely to be.

Donations of time are also critical for personal client support and admin support within food banks. This is needed on a consistent basis. Crisis management may peak around key times such as Christmas and school holidays but volunteers need to be in place.

Cash contributions are also welcome or at times desperately needed. Running costs vary depending on the range of service provided. A well supported organisation is generally able to achieve more given the resources. The report of one food bank states ‘The necessity to buy in food on a regular basis has continued this year, and this has only been made possible by donations’. (Bradford Metropolitan Food Bank no 1120018)

Concerns

Food banks should not be used as a political football or platform for social engineering.

Adequate support is required from across the community, business, individuals, charities, religious and other organisations.

Big Issue not a Big Issue

I am an intermittent buyer of the Big Issue North and wonder why I am not a regular customer. It should not be a big issue for me to regularly spend £2.50 on a well managed and worthwhile cause.

In Barnsley this week I stopped myself from being a bit of a winger after I had to ask for my change from a £5 note. Also the copy of the magazine looked slightly secondhand although the vendor had a shrink wrapped batch for his next customers. I know the Big Issue has a ‘code of conduct’ and set of rules governing how they work, just like you would expect at any job of work! Any issues I may have thought I had are not big issues when you consider the wider picture.

Now I am determined to rise above any perceived grievance and prejudice and be more supportive. I will also look into the Big Issue North Trust (1056041) which is part of the Big Issue umbrella group

On the magazine itself I am keen to read the Vendor interviews and particularly liked the life story of Eugeniusz who currently has a pitch at Hull train station.

Three Imprisoned Monks before Charity Commission Act

Update Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

Nothing new after 40 years of of sexual abuse and cover up!

The latest report by (IICSA) says 2 schools, Ampleforth and Downside, were ‘secretive, evasive and suspicious’.  By the same token at school ‘the perpetrators did not hide their sexual interests’ in a culture of blatant acceptance of abusive behaviour.

Powerful Abbots and church officials seem more interested in protecting the Catholic Church’s reputation than safeguarding children.

 

From Charity Chit Chat 6th April 2018 Post

12 months and 12 years on and Ampleforth Abbey and St Laurence Education Trust are still in the news over sexual abuse allegations. The charity commission has this month stripped both charities of responsibility for pupil welfare after last years inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. The independent inquiry, set up by Teressa May, heard allegations  against 40 monks and teachers. An interim manager has been appointed to both charities.

In 2006 Fr Piers Grant-Ferris a Benedictine monk  and teacher at Ampleforth was jailed when he admitted 20 indecent assaults on young boys. Another former Ampleforth teacher, Gregory Carroll, was imprisoned in 2005 for the abuse of pupils but was ‘forgiven by the Ampleforth authorities’.

A year ago on 5th April 2017 Charity Chit Chat reported ‘1026493 –  AMPLEFORTH ABBEY a living, breathing community of monks and lay people who embody the fifteen-hundred year-old Benedictine precept: that we should live prayerfully, compassionately and humbly in the service of God and our fellow men’. A shame then that last week an Ampleforth College teacher Dara De-Cogan was jailed at York Crown Court after sexually abusing one of the pupils.

Concerns

Why is it taking so long for realistic action to take place in this and similar instances.  The charity commission are not designed to be ‘the moral police’ but seem to be used as an authority of last resort.

There are a lot of individuals who should have stood up to be counted. Three prison sentences a national investigation and countless heartbreak before cases are taken seriously.

The current younger generation should be imbued with moral fiber and integrity not taught by perverts that silence and a stiff upper lip is more important.

BBC’s Current Charity Efforts

After a winter of discontent for many of our charities, spring is bringing out the better side of the sector. For example the daffodils are out for Marie Curie, March is ‘Brain Tumour Awareness Month‘ when hats are due to be worn to raise awareness and the BBC is making the news.

BBC Contribution

Sports Relief concluded its 2018 effort this week and  Comic Relief will follow  as the BBC fund raisers now appear on alternate years. Celebrity tourists used to encourage donations for their campaigns are being phased out after negative reaction from ‘Rusty Radiator’  awards (Radi-Aid). These awards have celebrated the best – and the worst – of development charity fundraising videos apparently to the embarrassment of Ed Sheeran and the Beeb.

‘The Charity Business’ a BBC Radio 4 programme presented by Mathew Taylor has run for the last 3 weeks covering  service delivery, fundraising and impact. There were several thought provoking insights in each programme that used case studies and interviews mainly from West Yorkshire organisations.

BBC Media Action charity say’s ‘it has sacked six people for sexual harassment or for watching pornography on work computers.   The incidents happened overseas in the past 10 years and those sacked were all foreign nationals.’ The information came out after DfID  asked all UK charities working overseas to provide assurances about their safeguarding and disciplinary policies and procedures following the Oxfam revelations. BBC media action received £70m over the past five years from DfID.

Less charitable has been the BBC’s handling of the tax affairs of ‘freelance contractors’ or tax avoiding former employees.  For years under IR35 schemes, national insurance and income tax on BBC earnings were lower than would be the case for employees. During this 10 year period there was no complaint from the ‘winners’ until the Inland Revenue took Christa Ackroyd to task claiming over £420,000 in back taxes. Now the good times are over these schemers are up in arms seeking to blame the BBC for helping them avoid tax.

‘Charity begins at home’ as they say.

Comment

  1. Tax payers have paid £70m to a BBC outfit for their media charity.  Go figure.
  2. Tax payers and the public purse is short changed by employment practices. If one person lost a £420,000 court case how much will a 100 ‘freelancers’ owe -Go figure.
  3. The public via the HMRC gave Sport and Comic Relief £4,426,000 in gift aid in 2016. Go figure.

Read Up On Charity Law, Trusteeship and Governance

Book Cover

The Charity Trustee’s Handbook is produced by the Directory of Social Change (DSC) and is an essential guide for Trustees who need all the support they can get in an evermore complex charity industry. The paperback (£18.95) covers a definition of what is a trustee and asks ‘is trusteeship for you?’ It goes on with chapters on the role of a trustee board, understanding your organisation, finances, staff and volunteers. Followed by getting resources, codes of conduct and accountability are arguably the more crucial chapters. It continues with organisation of meetings delegation and ends with ‘Pulling it together’.

The book is aimed at new or prospective trustees, or those wishing to brush up their governance skills. The publishers also claim it is ‘useful to those from other sectors seeking an update on charity governance and students on third sector courses.’

 

Book Cover

Charity Law and Governance: A Practical Guide at £29.99 for a paperback it is not cheap but it cover most practical issues. (Click on either cover to buy from Amazon)

There are sections on:
Charity Law
Structures and legal forms for a charity
Regulation and compliance
Governance
Sources of Income
Stewardship of funds and asset. There is a useful directory at the end.

Void MOD Property for the Homeless

From recent experience it is doubtful any government has the core competence to negotiate sound financial deals with ‘smart parts’ of the corporate sector. Evidence from the National Audit Office has demonstrated this in a report on the sale of Ministry of Defence property that may have cost the public £4 billion.

One aspect of the report covers 55,000 properties for married couples accommodation that were sold and leased back on a 200 year lease. (A potentially punitive rent review is due in 2021). After rationalisation and sale of some properties there are 32,000 occupied houses and flats but still  7,000 properties that are empty. These void or empty properties are still costing annual rents, upkeep and maintenance charges. The void  properties represents 17% of total stock compared with a Department of Communities advice to housing associations that ‘No more than 4% of an Association’s total stock should be void.’

It is our suggestion that these properties should be used to provide temporary or permanent accommodation for the homeless and refugees. There will be existing social structures and communities in place and at least the financial negligence will serve some useful purpose.

7000 Empty Homes Available for the Homeless

 

 

Big Pay Packet – PFA’s Own Goal

 Once again the high remuneration of individuals with ‘charity’ jobs hits the headlines. Serial high earner Gordon Taylor head of the PFA continues to receive  a footballers’ level of wages equivalent to £44,000 per week or £2.3 million in the last tax year. Not bad for a 74 year old!
His earnings as trustee of 1150458 – THE PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALLERS’ ASSOCIATION CHARITY and 1104917 – LEAGUE FOOTBALL EDUCATION represent a large percentage of their £37m combined income. There is a strong view that the money should be better spent on research into head injuries, grass roots football and addiction campaigns.
‘Planet football’ at a professional level is seen by many as an excessivley high rewarding and profligate industry with vested interests taking advantage.  High transfer fees with add-ons, top salaries, personal endorsements and associated income have benefited from the work of Gordon Taylor over the years as he operated as the shop steward for the professionals in the game.
Cynics may question the benefits and necessity of charitable status for the PFA which is in many ways a trade union. When contrasted with the use of tax havens and tax avoidance schemes one wonders why society is so generous to football. This week saw the agreement of  £4.46 billion deal between Sky Sports, BT Sport and the Premier League to last until at least 2022. So no major shift expected from that direction.

Charity Football

Not all professional football is greedy! Common Goal is a collective fund of 120 charities in 80 countries around the world has been promised 1% of  the salary of 20 players led by  Juan Mata and now including stars from Bayern Munich, Juventus, Swansea, Leicester and Bournemouth . Co-founder Jurgen Griesbeck launched ‘Football for Peace’ in Colombia after the murder of Andres Escobar  the countries captain following an own goal in the USA world cup.  Jurgen believed that by developing a network of charitable organisations he could create something much more powerful and efficient, forming streetfootballworld in 2002. “Today we have over 125 organisations working from 80 countries,” says Jurgen.
Many other professional footballers have established some form of foundation or act as charity ambassadors and contribute to charity work.

Global Justice Now – Economics of Envy

A membership organisation, Global Justice Now 1064066  is made up of a network of activists and local groups. It works as part of a global movement to challenge the powerful and create a more just and equal world.

Global Justice Now Charitable Stance

Global Justice Now (GJN) was formerly called the World Development Movement and  co-founded the Fairtrade Foundation in 1992.

From their web site they say ‘A few use the world’s resources to generate incredible wealth and power for themselves. Meanwhile, many millions of people are unable to access the essential resources – like food and water, housing and energy, healthcare and education that they need to live decent lives.’

One of it’s campaigning slogans is ‘Act Local Think Global’ but with only 6 staff it is as a coordinator of activists that it has the biggest impact.

GJN is one of over 500 UK organisations including many faith groups, trade unions and charities that are part of the Make Poverty History Group. It may be this sentence that has drawn 160 spam comments to this post by organisations selling ‘loans’ or unwanted debt products, all of which I have binned.12.7.18

Currently working with ‘our friends Campaign Against Arms Trade’ GJN has produced a series of how too campaigning guides.

My Experience

The organisation politically leans to the left, as you may expect from the causes it supports. However it seems to skirt away from direct party political influence. I am very selective when considering the individual activist actions they wish to draw me into.

GJN punches above it’s weight of donations and membership income by effective use of e-commerce for campaigning, petitioning and communication.

The views it takes on international trade helps to put across a different perspective, one that supports the effected poor.

 

 

War on Want Influence

WAR ON WANT 208724 is working in partnership with grassroots social movements, trade unions and workers’ organisations to empower people to fight for their rights. However they are being drawn into antisemitic issues dogging the labour party. Is this charity too political to be a real charity?

 Investigations into War on Want

There have been English charity commission investigations in the past:
  1. The former General Secretary, George Galloway was audited after claims he was living luxuriously at the charity’s expense.
  2. A War on Want investigation found accounting irregularities including  financial reports that were “materially misstated” from 1985 to 1989.
  3. War On Want was found to have been insolvent, subsequently dismissing all it’s staff and going into administration. It was rescued and relaunched in 1991.
  4. The Charity Commission has investigated War on Want, (formerly called Association For World Peace,) regarding campaign activities of a politicized boycott campaign against Israel but the commission did not take any regulatory action.

Previous War on Want Campaigns

War on Want is best remembered for it’s part in the 1970s helping to expose baby food companies aggressively marketing powdered milk infant formula as a healthier option than breast milk to mothers in the developing world. My daughter still will not buy Nestle products.

In the 1980s, War on Want campaigned on the role of women in the developing world, and supported liberation movements in Africa & the Middle East.

In 2010, War on Want’s campaign “Help win justice for the Palestinian people at Christmas” accused Israel of “illegal occupation,” “daily human rights abuses,” and “the siege on Gaza and the Apartheid Wall.”  in order to “launch a sustained campaign against UK companies that are profiting from the Occupation” and to “secure compensation for those who have lost land due to construction of the Apartheid Wall.”

The main purpose of War on Want and the 20 staff is to ‘challenge the root causes of global poverty and oppression.’

There are worse socially divisive things happening within charities than worrying about political motives.

 

Sex Worker Supporters

Basis Yorkshire Ltd 1120350 – is one of those invaluable ‘hands on’, smaller charities that work with sectors of society that do not attract a great deal of charitable support.

‘The charity’s principal activity is the protection and preservation of good health of women and young people who are, or who are at risk of becoming involved in prostitution in the city of  Leeds or it’s immediate neighbourhood. ….. by the provision of an advice and counselling service, pastoral and practical care, and the advancement of education for the public benefit.’  One way this is achieved is by  offering free sexual heath supplies including a range of condoms, lubricant, dams, gloves, and sponges. Another is support on health and sexual exploitation.

Welcome Support

  • Plastic bags for food parcels –
  • Donations of (unopened) toiletries; toothbrush, towel, shower gels, clothes etc.
  • Non- perishable food items crisps, soup, chocolate, tins etc. to give out on Outreach!
  • Not to mention cash which can be sent by cheque in addition to other methods including Just Giving.

Comment

‘Helping with outreach in Holbeck – offering hot drinks, food, condoms and a friendly conversation – is my small way of making an active contribution to Basis’ incredible work. It is one thing to talk about an important cause, it is quite another to go out and meet the people you want to support’. A Current volunteer

Where are all the Plastic Bag 5p’s Going

Since October 2015 shoppers in England are charged 5p for every new single use plastic bag they obtain from a shop . Scotland started a similar scheme in 2014. The income should go to good causes.

The charge applies only to shops or chains with 250 or more full-time employees and there are 261 such chains registered. Some items are excluded such as unwrapped food, raw meat and fish where there is a food safety risk, prescription medicines, uncovered blades, seeds, bulbs and flowers, or live fish and paper bags. Smaller businesses can introduce a charge if they wish but remain unregistered.

Benefits from the Law

  • £60m savings in litter clean-up costs and less pollution in seas and rivers.
  • Large savings from the reduced hydrocarbon consumption and other environmental benefits.
  • Over £400m should be raised for good causes if the 5p’s collected are passed on to charities as originally envisaged?
  • Increased public awareness of plastic pollution.
  • Retailers are not spending money on single use bags they used to give away.

Charity Schemes

  • Retailers  need to report what they do with the money. Smaller charities could pitch direct to retailers for a slice of the cash generated.
  • Some major supermarket chains, including Aldi, Marks and Spencer, Sainsbury’s and The Cooperative Group have worked with CAF.
  • Waitrose have just concluded a deal with  Marine Conservation Society to fund clean ups.
  • Tesco have just stopped  selling “single use” 5p  bags instead offering shoppers reusable “bags for life” costing 10p. Double or quits for their local community grant scheme.

Bags of Suspicion

Are some retailers keeping the 5p charge to boots profits or to offset the cost of all the bags and packaging they supply.

Are some retailers collecting the charge without being require too.

Are some retailers and charity administrations using the income to cover inappropriate costs  or none charitable purpose.

 

Old Charity for Old Folk

THE ROYAL UNITED KINGDOM BENEFICENT  ASSOCIATION 210729
For over 150 years this charity and it’s forerunners have provided support for the poor and elderly. The original goal was to prevent destitution by providing those in poverty with a small, regular income for life.  In 2011 they merged with two other charities, Counsel and Care and the Universal Beneficent Society to form a combined organisation under the title Independent Age.
Current service provision is clearly focused in three areas
Information and advice, Friendship services and Campaigning or Speaking up for Older people. A justifiable claim is that ‘Independent Age can provide you and your family with clear, free and impartial advice on the issues that matter: care and support, money and benefits, health and mobility. ‘ On average over the last 3 years they spend  £10m per annum on these activities plus fund raising and admin.
At the end of 2016 they had very strong reserves and  £178,000,000 of investments in shares and property. This has been built up over many years boosted from the sale of residential property they formerly operated as residential homes.  This causes a couple of concerns :
  1. Half a million pounds per year is spent on Investment and Property Management Costs. There may be hidden transaction costs of buying and selling about 75% of the portfolio every 12 months.
  2. A further concern is how  money will be deployed across the mix of charitable aims between the key tangible service provision, political campaigning and awareness development.
  3. With this scale of reserves and investment is fund raising a necessary blessing or a curse. Current website requests for support include ‘£1,000 could help recruit and train 4 volunteers to provide friendship visits to lonely older people’

Victoria Cross – Grave News

1149454 – VICTORIA CROSS TRUST
The Victoria Cross is the highest military honour awarded for gallantry and valour “in the face of the enemy” to members of the British and Commonwealth services.   1363 Victoria Crosses have been awarded since its creation in 1856.

Vandalism & Desecration

  • The grave of Zulu War veteran Colour Sergeant Anthony Clarke Booth has recently suffered over £1,000 of damage in a wanton act of vandalism.
  • The Victoria Cross Trust intends to repair  and restore the grave at St Michael’s Church in Bell Street South, Brierley Hill.
  • Sergeant Booth, from Brierley Hill, served with the 80th Regiment of Foot now part of the Mercian Regiment.
  • The trust had earlier raised money to refurbish the damaged  grave of Lance Corporal William Coltman reputed to be the most decorated ‘other rank’ having won the Victoria Cross, the DCM  the Military Medal (twice).
  • Other Victoria Cross Trust’s completed projects

Victoria Cross  Trust

The trust aims firstly to restore the final resting places of Victoria Cross recipients through the restoration and protection of the graves and memorials across the United Kingdom and the rest of the world. There are a large number of private graves and memorials to those awarded the Victoria Cross and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission only looks after a small number because their remit only covers recipients killed in action during either of the world wars.

The trust continues to develop a   museum at Ashworth BarracksDoncaster, DN4 9EY in support of the Victoria Cross Trust. The creation of the museum to educate the public about Victoria Cross holders lives and citation details meets a further charitable aim.

The museum rates highly on Trip Adviser

Comments
  • Charities can be supported in more ways than with money. Better behaviour, more consideration and less vandalism would be a start.
  • The First World War Centenary campaign includes commemorative paving stones being laid at the birth places of Victoria Cross  recipients. These awareness programmes are to be commended.
  • The irresponsible elements who damage graves should consider what those Victoria Cross winners would think of our current society.

 

Intellectual National Trust Property

The case we are looking at relates to The National Trust for Scotland registered in Scotland, Charity Number SC 007410. The issues could be the similar for English Heritage,  National Trust and other land and building owning charities.

The National Trust for Scotland (NTS) claim to own Glencoe and hold the trademark for the name including that covering clothing. Now they have been accused of bullying a small Aberdeenshire  business in a trademark dispute. Lawyers for the charity wrote to Hilltrek Outdoor Clothing demanding they stop selling their Glencoe jacket that has been on the market for around 25 years! The recorded delivery letter was sent on the 4th August and gave the company until 11th August to comply or suffer further action.

A trust spokesman Mark Bishop, Director of Customer & Cause  said “In retrospect, although the letter sent to Hilltreck was a standard one, it may have been in the circumstances of this particular company too harsh in tone. Our only desire is to protect the properties in our care and stop them being exploited.” How many other companies have received similar ‘bullying’ but ‘standard’ letters. The aim may be to stop the properties in the charitie’s care being exploited but Mmm that is obviously the trust’s job.

NTS also owns St Kilda and is still at the centre of an acrimonious dispute  pursuing legal action against Western Isles Council, which wants to own potentially lucrative trademarks in the name of the famous archipelago to capitalise on the huge global interest surrounding St Kilda.   With its dramatic and romantic history, the Unesco World Heritage Site has been the inspiration for a wide range of goods and events, from clothing and books, through to opera productions, and the council has paid more than £1,000 to successfully apply for EC trademark applications for classes 9, 16, 35, 39, 41, 43.

Concerns

  • Protecting trademarks can be far more expensive than registering them in the first place. The cost in the Glencoe case is to reputation and goodwill. The  St Kilda case is to legal bills and commercial consequences.
  • To what extent should charities take on commercial and business practices including action against other public bodies.

Rose Sickness – Charity Sickness

Another charity is succumbing to the problems of operating in the 21st century. The Royal National Rose Society  (RNRS 1035848  ) was founded in 1876 but called in the administrators May 2017.

The objects for this membership organisation were: to encourage, improve, and extend the science, art and practice of the cultivation and conservation of roses and to disseminate knowledge of roses and rose growing  by means of education, training, trials, publications, promotion of display gardens, the holding and regulation of shows, scientific research and international co-operation. Who will do it now?

What has gone Wrong

  • This is another charity with large ‘off the balance sheet’ pension liabilities.
  • This is another charity that is asset rich and cashflow poor. They own a large garden in St Albans which drains cash rather than generates rent or other significant income.
  • The day to day management of legacies, websites and membership income is proving too daunting.
  • The progressive reduction in publication income is partially due to the ready availability of rose data in the internet.
  • The  partnership with The Royal Entomological Society –
    213620 headquartered at St Albans has not worked despite that societies investment and reserves.
  • The RNRS site is  adjacent to the former Butterfly World business that closed in 2015 because it too failed to attract enough visitors.

Concerns and Issues

  • What happens to the intellectual property and will the administrators ‘put it all up for sale’ to the highest bidder.
  • Can and should charities seek some protection towards the unfunded pension obligations.
  • Single issue, or in this case species, charities need help to move with the times.

Read On…

Bankrupt Financially and Morally

Scotia Aid  Sierra Leone : SC024249

A Cult of Scorn and a totally inappropriate way of running a charity has driven Scotia Aid Sierra Leone into a £1.1 million bankruptcy. Uncontrolled trustee excesses, marginally acceptable activities and failure to deliver on the charitable purpose are in danger of bringing charities into disrepute.

Trusteeship Issues

  •  A recent investigation by the Scottish charity registrar OSCR in to Scotia Aid Sierra Leone found that payments had been made by the charity to companies connected to trustees that were “excessive and have not been sufficiently explained”.
  • The charity was reported to the  regulator in 2015 by whistleblowers  who complained of mismanagement and  huge trustee fees.
  • Using their own private companies three trustees paid themselves  £300,000 as tax efficient “consultancy fees”. The investigation led to directors Kieran Kelly and Alan Johnston being barred from running any charity for life . Houston  escaped action by quitting as a trustee before regulators acted so he is free to set up new charities.
  • Kelly  a convicted criminal exploited a gaping hole in charity legislation that allows anyone with convictions for crimes such as assault to be a trustee unless they have been convicted of dishonesty or fraud.

Financial Scams

  • The charity based much of its income on a ‘business rates’ reduction scam. Scotia Aid would take over empty commercial premises and go into an arrangement with the owners for a fee.
  • Claiming (falsely) to be storing donated furniture and other goods destined for Sierra Leone the trustees used their charitable status to cut the cost of business rates.
  • The plunder was spent on lavish salaries, high expenses and even sponsorship of Hamilton Academicals FC .
  • Only a maximum of 13p in the pound was spent on charitable activities.
  • A deal with an Italian charity FHM Italia Onlusm was not honoured leaving them in the lurch.

Kids Company – Cult of Powerful Personality

Collapsed charity Kids Company (KC) that received at least £46m of public money has just been the subject of a new musical at the Donmar Warehouse called ‘Committee’. That provides an excuse to reprise some of the issues found by the  National Audit Office  and Parliament’s Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs committee.

  •  Kids Company run by Camila Batmanghelidjh received numerous grants after claiming to senior politicians that it would close without them. Over several years KC received public funding of £42m in government grants,  £2m from councils and £2m from the National Lottery. At one stage the Inland Revenue also wrote off the charity’s tax debts of £590,000 .
  • Former bosses at the charity  denied it was financially mismanaged but in August 2015 it was put into compulsory winding up after problems paying wages and salaries.
  • Amongst the  issues were money handed out to Kids for drugs, large expenses for the families of two staff, a £90,000 salary for Camila  and government ministers over-ruling official warnings from a civil servant.
  • Kids Company  were allowed to rely on their own performance reviews.

Beatbullying – Cult of Overconfidence

In a public company or business it would be called ‘over-trading’. There is a reason why an organisation should stick to its core purpose. If they don’t stick to their knitting it can all unravel. Initial success for Beatbullying was attributable to its founder and chief executive, Emma-Jane Cross but from 2011 job losses and inability to manage their finances brought the charity down.

  • For several years Beatbullying did what it said on the tin and focused on helping youngsters with bullying prevention strategies. Then it formed the BB Group.
  • Under this expansive phase they started a service called Cancer Care Online, established an employment project ‘Future You’ and developed a befriending scheme MiniMentors and CyberMentors.
  • Overseas expansion of Beatbullying followed and by using money from Civil Society’s Social Action Fund created MindFull, a new online mental health service to add to the rapid but sadly unsustainable growth.

Concerns

  • Charities are no different from other organisations ranging at times from the good and indifferent to the bad.
  • Commissioners, Registrars and other authorities need to be able to resolve issues promptly and effectively.
  • In a challenging environment charities need help from all concerned to root out poor and damaging activities.

Adoption in a Charity Bubble

How concerned is the government about the management of adoption services in the UK? It is an old business maxim that ‘when things are known to be bad then they are probably worse’. From a review of some charities working in the sector, management by initiative seems to be the DfE modus operandi. The subject is complex and the issues are crucially important to the children and families concerned. It should be the role of government to provide the best, comprehensive adoption and related services and not ‘privatise them’ to inadequate or inappropriate charitable organisations.

Charities with Issues

275689 British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF)  was a membership association from 1980 to 2015. The sudden closure and insolvency of the charity was a surprise to many given annual income of circa £8million. Membership was approximately 1,850 organisations and individuals  concerned with child adoption and fostering included local authorities, independent fostering agencies, voluntary adoption agencies, NHS trusts and law firms.

Former chief executive, acting chief executive, and a group of former staff members made separate requests to the Charity Commission for an investigation. answer was there none!

Anthony Douglas  chaired the BAAF board of trustees, was and still is the chief executive of CAFCASS  The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service a non-departmental public body set up to promote the welfare of children and families.

On closure some functions were transferred to the children’s charity Coram in a done deal or ‘prepack’ in business speak.

312278 – Thomas Coram Foundation for Children formerly The Foundling Hospital known as Coram aims to find ‘adoptive families for children in need of loving, permanent homes, helping traumatised children …..  extend our support through our Coram Group Charities to help children and young people access their legal rights and schoolchildren avoid harm by making safe and healthy choices.’
1108318 – Consortium of Voluntary Adoption Agencies UK Limited
As the name implies CVAA is an other membership organisation for voluntary adoption agencies. Managing government grants to expand the sector they help  member agencies  deliver services to children, adoptive families, and all those considering adoption.
They were awarded £12.5m funding for participating in the DfE Expansion Grants programme managing the funding profile between DfE and CVAA. £5m was taken as income in 2015, an increase from a total income of £147k only three years earlier. According to the trustees report this dramatic growth ‘has proved challenging ….’ . The 2016 report and accounts to the charity commission are more than 3 months overdue. You would expect they would take more care unless like  BAFF they are having problems.
More information was provided in a full annual report for the year to 31 March 2015 – we must awaitmore upto date but overdue reports.
326021 – Caritas Care Ltd has been providing financial management services to CVAA. Should that give confidence?

More on the BAAF  Saga

Read On…