Archive for the ‘Uncategorised’ Category

RSPCA Again

More grief at ‘this national treasure of a charity’. The London South East branch of the RSPCA is being investigated over suspected fraud of hundreds of thousands of pounds after 2 people were arrested. Less than 12 months ago the Maidstone branch were criticised by the charity commission for allowing the local chairman’s daughter to manage and live in a cattery without the right authority or controls. In the recent past we have reported on Big Ugly Animals at RSPCA and RSPCA Still Getting It Wrong The charity commission is doing what it can to curb the excesses of this charity but it makes you wonder.

Comments

It is time the public wised up and called the RSPCA to account. Only hitting them in the purse will register.

A break up of the charity should be actively considered

Significant punishments for the guilty should be widely broadcast and not covered up by PR messages and media speak.

World Cancer Research opacity

World Cancer Research Fund UK is registered with the Charity Commission in England and Wales (Registration Charity No. 1000739). Around 90 per cent of the funding comes from the UK public via an active mail shot programme with the remainder donated by business, trusts and foundations.

The grants they make for research are smaller than 10% of annual income which totals around £8m. The largest expenditures are on mail shots for fundraising 25% and human resources another 25% of income. This  includes £80,000 salary for chief executive and co founder Marylin Gentry who also received $454,873  as CEO American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR). Other expenditure is mainly on AICR contributions, publications, data bases and information to ‘raise awareness that the risk of cancer is reduced by healthy food, nutrition, physical activity and weight management.’

The UK charity along with AICR is a member of a network led  by World Cancer Research Fund International (WCRF International).

Americanised Fund Raising

Mail shots regularly include free greeting cards and a dozen self adhesive address labels. pretty much unwanted in my case.

In the recent accompanying letter the P.S. jarred ‘if you make only one contribution to help fight to prevent cancer this year please use the enclosed envelope …………..’

It is 20 years since complaints about World Cancer Research Fund’s fundraising mailshot methods which had been imported from USA. The charity commission found nothing wrong and now may be the time to apply the right to be forgotten. What goes with that right is the need to apply professional standards and pushing for contributions to  your cancer charity above all others jars with that ethos.

Credit Unicef for Being Ahead on GDPR

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect on May 25, 2018 replacing the current DPA standard of consent. With the current spotlight on Facebook’s data use and abuse this may be a timely change but not one many charities will have budgeted for.

The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’ or any information relating to an identifiable person including name, id number, location data, email or online identity. Special categories  including genetic data and biometric data are subject to further rules.

Action for Charities and Not for Profits.

  • Check with the Information Commissioners Office to understand the new rules. It covers all personal data including that for donors, members, grantees, customers and service recipients
  • Take the new law seriously as significant penalties up to €20million may be imposed by regulators for noncompliance and there is no period of grace.
  • Review your data control, processing and collection in the context of marketing and fundraising, program service delivery, member services, and other relevant issues.

Unicef UK

My mail this weeks included a costly but well meaning communication asking for permission to ‘say yes to staying in touch’. There was a reply paid envelope and the full colour printing to cost into the exercise which deliberately did not ask for any donations.

Micro Finance and Lend with Care

Help for Micro Businesses

From now until 22nd April 2018, your donations will be doubled by the UK government (DFID) with matched funding going to support women farmers in Tanzania so they can increase their income and grow their business as part of CARE’s  Help Her Live, Learn and Earn campaign and ‘lendwithcare’.

CARE partners with local microfinance institutions to provide loans from your cash with 100% of your advance  going directly to entrepreneurs. As entrepreneurs repay their loans with interest the cash can be recycled to new businesses or the your money withdrawn. The failure rate on my repayment has been very low and it seems a charitable way to help commercial development at a low cost.

Any partner that receives funding or technical assistance from CARE for microfinance activities is expected to adopt and implement a code of conduct aimed at fostering transparency and protecting its customers. CARE’s goal is to develop and enhance the capacity and capability of MFIs to independently provide effective, long term, and sustainable financial and non-financial services to the poor.

Just Some of the Micro Finance Partners

  1. MicroLoan Foundation, Malawi
  2. Reef Finance, The Occupied Territories of the West Bank and Gaza
  3. Thrive Microfinance, Zimbabwe MicroLoan Foundation, Zambia
  4. Umutanguha, Rwanda
  5. MicroLoan Foundation Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe

Eligibility criteria for prospective microfinance institutions (MFIs) that wish to partner with lendwithcare  include:

  • At least three years of experience of working in microfinance .
  • Have at least 500 active clients with a controlled “portfolio at risk” ratio
  • Be able to produce externally audited financial statements for the past three years and a dollar bank account.
  • Have a reasonable internet connection and able to update in English
  • Adhere to CARE’s code of conduct in microfinance
  • Be legally able to undertake microfinance operations within the country of operation
  • Lendwithcare brings together entrepreneurs in developing countries with people with the power to help them.

Seeing Charity In Action

The Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind is a UK registered charity 207544 and SCO38110 trading and branded as Sightsavers.
Facts You may Not Know
  •  31.2 million people  are blind when they needn’t be. With drugs and support Sightsavers have protected 330 million people from becoming new victims from river blindness or trachoma.
  • Sightsavers  2016 income was a massive £300million pounds. £230million of this was in the form of gifts in kind and donated service. – Merck & Co Inc. donated Mectizan®
    tablets shipped to Benin, Cameroon, Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Malawi Nigeria,
    Togo and Uganda for distribution to those people at risk of developing river blindness.
  • International Trachoma Initiative (ITI), an independent not-for-profit organization dedicated to eliminating trachoma also donated via  Pfizer, Zithromax®  for Sudan.
  • Individual donations and legacies were £48m and £24m was received from various governments and other sources.
  • A Million Miracles is Sightsavers campaign to fund one million operations that will restore, save and protect people’s sight in some of the poorest parts of the world. £6million has been invested in neglected topical disease.
  • Sightsavers was founded in 1950 originally called the British Empire Society for the Blind, then the Royal Commonwealth Society for the Blind.
  • Compared to many other charities, cash and reserves are not overly large which may imply that money is being made to work hard.
  •  Sightsavers fund raising costs £18m each year!

Grassroots Literacy Assistance

Following the ‘Charity Short’ post ‘Helping Children Enjoy Reading’ I ventured into a pop up shop in Bradford that was giving away books  for free.  Organised by the Global Education Trust  1144969 (GET) they have 29 outlets offering free books in the belief that primary education must be free and available to all children to help raise child and adult literacy rates in the UK

GET as a small charity spends two thirds of it’s £60,000 annual income on rates and relies on donations, volunteers and free rents to fulfill the charitable activities that include:

  • Making its own charitable donation to support the activities of other registered charities for the advancement of education.
  • Provided funding for education overseas.
  • Donating educational materials to schools and UK communities
  • Collecting, sorting and redistributing books.

As well as providing physical resources globally, GET also consider providing financial assistance in the form of bursaries and educational support. They also believe that every adult deserves the ability to read and write. ‘Good standards of literacy form a key enabler in all walks of life.’

Concerns

  1. It is not easy starting and running a small charity.
  2. GET will have issues hopefully no worse than having had to restrict free books to 3 per person per visit to prevent commercial abuse of their charitable nature.
  3. Literacy is an issue and it is interesting to note in these 2 posts that at least 10 organisations are making some progress.

Dissing the National Trust Again

Gosh Ghosh is going! We wait to see what pension and final payments she receives. With her new role as Master of Balliol College Oxford  she should still be able to afford her National Trust Membership.

Six months ago I was sticking up for the National Trust when they got egg on their face over messing with Easter. Enough is enough and damaging headlines are again catching out this so called national treasure.

National trust rainbow badge –                       additional   material Mail Online

Telling volunteers they must wear a rainbow badge at Felbrigg Hall Norfolk in support of the 50th anniversary of decriminalisation of homosexuality was heavy handed in the extreme. It has caused such ripples that the trust backed down and now say they only request that the gay pride badge be worn. These weasley words were issued after volunteers and members complained leaving in droves in protest.

LGBT is a community of people whose sexual or gender identities can create shared political and social concerns. Writing in the Daily Telegraph   Dame Helen Ghosh currently chief executive said those who did not wish to wear gay pride lanyards could ‘step back’ from volunteering or take a backroom role. But just hours later, the National Trust issued a statement saying: ‘We are aware that some volunteers had conflicting, personal opinions about wearing the rainbow lanyards and badges. We are therefore making it clear that the wearing of the badges is optional and a personal decision.’ What was not optional was the Trusts decision to ‘out’ Felbrigg Hall’s former owner, the poet Robert Wyndham Ketton-Cremer, as gay.

 ‘Betrayal of Trust: how the National Trust is Losing its Way’.

This is the title of a presentation by journalist and historian Harry Mount  author of ‘How England Made the English: From Why We Drive on the Left to Why We Don’t Talk to Our Neighbours’ In a  public lecture he highlighted many issues for the National Trust including:

  • An organisation that was once the pride of Britain has been hijacked by a lethal combination of catastrophic dumbing down, social engineering, rampant politicisation and intolerance of opposing views under its last two director generals, former civil servants Dame Fiona Reynolds and Dame Helen Ghosh.
  • The Trust has sacrificed its original aims on the altar of political correctness and as a result we and future generations are all losers.
  • The mindset at the top of the organisation is alienating members and the volunteers who are the Trust’s lifeblood.
  • Headlines generated by this latest row have done nothing to help the Trust’s reputation for getting involved in areas it has no business to.
  • According to the National Trust Act of 1937, the Trust’s twin duties are the preservation of buildings of national interest and of beautiful landscapes.
  • Forget beautiful buildings and landscapes; what now matters is imposing modern political claptrap on our greatest country houses. It is symptomatic of an organisation that no longer cares for history.
  • A litany of further minor issues are raised in Henry Mount’s full article that make you question the management and politics of our National Trust. You may also be interested in his Spectator article on a similar theme ‘ How The National Trust is spoiling its treasures’.

 

 

Sporting Land Development

1141811 – SURREY CANAL SPORTS FOUNDATION LIMITED

Still hitting the headlines, this charity is involved with  land around The Den Millwall FC’s football ground, offshore company Renewal and the new multi-million pound Bermondsey development. The media continue to question loans and funding arrangements and  relationships with Sports England and Lewisham council. To add to the problems a member of the public contacted the Charity Commission in January 2017 with some specific concerns including that:
  • the charity was a vehicle for money laundering and/or tax avoidance
  • there were conflicts of interest in the charity’s decision making, and links between the charity, a developer and local officials
  • the charity’s income was low, while its expenditure was high
  • that the charity had failed to achieve its stated aims

After  investigating the issues raised that were within their regulatory remit  the commission issued a report that included a conclusion ‘We considered that the charity had addressed our regulatory concerns and demonstrated that it was acting independently, we had no ongoing concerns about the funding of the charity. We closed our case in March 2017.’ The full report can be read here.

The Commission was able to provide public assurance that  the charity is operating in compliance with charity law. They did not examine the merits of the development scheme and the compulsory purchase orders that fall outside their regulatory remit.

‘We have ensured the trustees are clear that they need to continue to ensure that the charity is independent and that any decisions are made in the best interests of the charity. Charities can attract considerable public scrutiny where they are involved with decisions that are unpopular or controversial.

The public expect that charities and trustees should be as open and transparent as possible regarding the decisions they make. It is especially important where there may be an impression that individuals have conflicts of loyalty that trustees always act in the best interests of their charity. The key to making the right decisions (and being able to defend them) as a trustee is knowing your role and responsibilities.’

Reinforcing guidance for trustees

  • ensure your charity is carrying out its purposes for the public benefit
  • comply with your charity’s governing document and the law
  • act in your charity’s best interests
  • manage your charity’s resources responsibly
  • act with reasonable care and skill
  • ensure your charity is accountable

Fallout Shelter

Shelter, National Campaign for Homeless People Limited  registered in England 263710 and Scotland SC002327  was founded 50 years ago as a result of the fall out from the 1966 TV documentary ‘Cathy Come Home’.

Shelters current aspirations are stated on their web site ‘We strive every day to give people the help they need, and we campaign relentlessly to achieve our vision of a safe, secure, affordable home for everyone.’

In the short term Shelter is suffering from some self inflicted fallout following the Grenfell tower block conflagration and political posturing.

  • Sir Derek Myers, Shelter’s chairman together with fellow board member Tony Rice resigned from the charity on 23rd June 2017. Sir Derek Myers is the former Kensington & Chelsea RBC, and Hammersmith & Fulham LBC chief executive until 2015.
  • Tony Rice is the chairman of Xerxes Equity which owns Omnis Exteriors. This company was a fundraising charity partner for Shelter with permission to use their logo.
  • In a Guardian report ‘Shelter rejected accusations that it had been too timid in its response to the disaster, saying that it had prioritised the provision of housing and legal advice to Grenfell residents in the wake of the fire’ at Grenfell Tower.
  • Jon Kenworthy  former vice-chair of Shelter said that ‘Myers had been vetted stringently before being appointed to the role.’ .. “The current trustee board reflects the needs of the charity, with its members having professional backgrounds and experience in charities, finance and accountancy, HR, fundraising, business, law, property, media and campaigning and public policy, including housing,”

Looking back at Shelter

  • If the remit has been to ‘campaign relentlessly’  to make everyone safe and secure how are they doing on behalf of those suffering from public sector housing indifference?
  • With an annual expenditure of £60 million or about a £1 per head of the UK population are they delivering value for money? They certainly have lots of individual projects.
  • Shelter had £18m in cash and investments at the end of March 2016 but with 1115 staff this may be a necessary cushion.
  • In the 12 months to end March 2016 Shelter lost 7 trustees to ‘retirement’ making 50% or 9 in 15 months.
  • A quote from the history of Shelter at 50 ‘Our commitment is that we will never shy away from telling tough stories, or from uniting and mobilising the public, as our founders mobilised the public in the 1960s. Shelter was founded on a will to address a deep injustice in society…..’
  • How goes the war on the grim reality of slum housing?

Concerns

The febrile climate of political incompetence, media hype, commercial patronage and lost personal values needs to stir up more than just this one charity.

UK housing public and private sector is at odds with a fair and equitable society. If Shelter are to be part of the solutions, 50 years on from their foundation, they need some effective leadership, conviction and clarity of purpose.

There seems to be little or no grass roots tenant representation on Shelter’s board of trustees but an ample number of ‘professionals’.

Small Potatoes All Chip In

The UK has thousands of small charities focused on helping to alleviate local problems in countries all over the world. Often these charities are very hands on and the benefits derived by local communities exceeds the raw cash investment. Additionally there are unregistered charitable works and support by individuals and groups to helping with local issues and specific causes.

Sample of Small International Charities.

1093083 – The Gambian Schools Trust- Manjai Kunda for less than £50k they completed 3 construction projects during 2016, a computer room at Kunkujang Upper Basic School, a perimeter wall around the expanded Ladies garden at the school in Loumen and the 10th Library  thay have built and equipped at a rural Nursery  in Jamwelly.
1012069 – A Passion for Africa raises £10k pa  towards building a children’s home in Sierra Leone.
1111755 – Action for Relief in Coastal Areas spending less than £1,000 pa for the benefit of those persons suffering from HIV/ aids in the East African coastal region.
1134480 –  Education for Indigent Girls in Africa (EFIG) raises £10k pa to sponsors the education of poor girls in Nigeria and Ghana.
1121411 – Operation South America   currently operates in Quyquyho, a village in Paraguay to support a foster home for  girls. Raising and spending £50k pa  over 5 years
1098390 – Sanitation in the Developing World generated £7k over 5 years to use in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries. Money down the drain I hope!
1053569 – The Social Entrepreneurs Trust makes awards to accelerate the growth of early stage social entrepreneurs in India. The main income of around £300,000 pa is UK derived from corporate and individual donations . See more on the projects financed.

Questions

Are  UK charities efforts and contributions included in the official development assistance (ODA)  commitment to spend 0.7% of gross national income on aid? It seems not – Fact Checking Charity.

To encourage more small potatoes to be planted consider:  ‘many a mickle makes a muckle’,  ‘mighty  oaks from little acorns grow’,  little and often, small is beautiful, Oxfam was small once…………..

 

 

Faith, Pope and Charity Gate

232632 – THE PROVINCE OF GREAT BRITAIN OF THE INSTITUTE OF THE BROTHERS OF THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS (THE DE LA SALLE BROTHERS) is an international Roman Catholic Religious Institute. In Great Britain  there are 43 members living in 5 regionally “communities” managing several schools plus St Johns College Southsea (now an independent charity no.1162915 ). The most recent annual report and audited accounts report healthy investments but a massive financial black hole …….

Historic Child Abuse and Charity Background

From 1680 Saint John Baptist de La Salle  felt himself “moved by the abandonment of the children of the artisans and of the poor.”  and he worked helping a group of teachers to establish schools for poor children.

‘Since 1993, Broken Rites Australia has been researching a cover-up of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

In February 2017 The Royal Commission’s investigation into the response of the Catholic Church into alleged abuse heard that the De La Salle Brothers had one of the highest number of alleged perpetrators and has been subject of 328 claims of sexual abuse in Australia. ABC news

Too often, the church supported the offending clergy while ignoring the victims. At least three abusers have been uncovered and for example Broken Rites has shown how the church shielded the criminal priest Father Gerald Ridsdale for 32 years without reporting his crimes to the police.’

Claims and investigations continue in Australia. More than 1,100 complaints of child sexual abuse were made against hundreds of Anglican church clergy and laypeople over 35 years revealed in data provided to The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse.

De La Salle Brothers In the UK

Twelve months ago Michael Murphy  known as Brother Benedict or Brother Ben to children in his care at St Joseph’s List D School  East Lothian, was convicted for a catalogue of “brutal and degrading” indecent assaults against eight school boys during “a regime of fear”. Daily Mirror and others

In October 2016 five survivors started a civil claim against the Catholic diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle Brothers, whose convicted former principal and a chaplain  ran St William’s Home in Market Weighton,  Yorkshire. Catholic Herald

Back in 2014 Paul Davey, a  former Catholic Brother at De La Salle  Croxteth served as head of music,  was sent to prison for a second time for abusing young boys. The 58-year-old had previously served 30 months in prison after being convicted in 1996 of abusing four boys in the late 80s. Liverpool Echo

‘Vicarious liability claim’

This UK registered charity has a portfolio of cash and investments of over £22million which is just as well because according to their annual report and accounts… ‘Together with a number of co-respondents, the charity has been the subject of a vicarious liability claim concerning alleged acts of sexual and physical abuse of pupils at an educational establishment between 1958 and 1992 by certain brothers who were members of the charity, as well as abuse by some lay staff at the establishment. ……. An Agreement has been reached in principle that ensures that the charity, in return for an agreed claim settlement totalling £7.7 million  has been released from any further claim in relation to the Group Action or in relation to any future claims in respect to the educational establishment for damages, claimants’ or co-defendant’s costs.’

Some of the school premises have been sold and the St Johns College in Portsmouth spun off to cover the damages and legal costs.

Ongoing Concerns

  •  Australia organised a Royal Commission. The UK are fudging with an Independent Inquiry into Historical Child Sexual Abuse and The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry looking at the abuse of children in care and both loose key figures before they get started. Why?
  • Given the scale and longevity of the abuse  there is a lack of credible focus. Should major charities including NSPCC, and Barnardos  work in tandem.
  • A national and international holistic focus on prevention needs to be developed

Footnotes

 1026493 –  AMPLEFORTH ABBEY ‘ is 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.

Dissing The National Trust

An Easter witch hunt has broken out and Kraftily it is Dame Helen Ghosh who is being pelted with rotten eggs. That is too soft a target and much as I distrust this trust I am sticking up for the National Trust this time. Who has never seen a marketing or communication exercise hit the wrong note.

The Church of England ( of Wonga investment fame) have condemned the use of Cadbury inspired Great British Egg Hunt questioning where the word ‘Easter’ has gone. Not gone to church recently I guess.  ‘He that is without sin let them cast the first’ egg.

Our correspondent in the Middle East the prime minister scrambled to join the furore and helped the media fill some more time and space.

All this extra publicity may help fuel an increase in the number of attendees at the 250 eggstravaganza sites then the yoke will be on the naysayers.

Concerns about the National Trust

  • 9 senior eggsecutives each earned an average of £145,000 in 2015 – chocks away for an increase in the next accounts.
  • On a serious note the NT membership and the public deserve to know and influence the National Trust raison d’être.
  • The funding and many dubious activities, poor decisions and lack of clarity needs investigation.  When you think it is bad it is normally far worse!
  • Is the NT with it’s income of over  half a  billion pounds too large, cumbersome and powerful.
  • As a curate one said  ‘…….. it is good in parts’

Birth Defects & Trust

A new birth defect scandal, surrounding German manufactured Primodos, is brewing. Superficially this appears to be a 40 year old cover up of problems potentially caused by Primodos that was a pregnancy testing drug produced by Schering AG, a German company now owned by Bayer.

Until more information comes to light it is more appropriate to look at the current situation  of the UK Thalidomide charities.

Thalidomide

The German drug company Chemie Grünenthal gmbh developed and sold Thalidomide, also known as Contergan and Distaval,  as an  anti-emetic suitable for morning sickness and a “wonder drug” for insomnia amongst other uses.  The UK sales and distribution was via Distillers Ltd now part of Diageo. Diageo have stood by the Thalidomide Trust  and donate over £10m per annum with a similar level of funds donated from the UK Health Department. In fact the trust income over the last 5 years has been a staggering £125m.

Since the first problem cases in 1959 up to 20,000 children and families have been affected by numerous miscarriages or were born with some kind of disability due to damage caused by thalidomide.   The Thalidomide Society (231708) was formed in 1962 by the parents of children affected by the drug thalidomide. The original aim of the Society was to provide mutual support and a social network as well as to seek compensation.  The Thalidomide Trust  (266220)   was established in 1973 for the  care, welfare, treatment and education of   relief of the disabilities of or to meet the needs of children suffering from congenital disability due to thalidomide. It provides relief and assistance to its beneficiaries through financial assistance and support services in support of  467 victims. There is still £137.8m reserves left even after exorbitant legal & finance costs stretching in to the millions of pounds.

In 2004 HM Government passed a Statutory Instrument which allows distributions from the Trust to be paid free of income tax and all distributions to beneficiaries were paid under these terms  and no income tax liability arose.

Survivors in the UK have had a life-long battle for compensation from the German government to allow UK survivors to access a special health fund set up to help Germany’s own 2,700 thalidomide victims.

After 50 years and much pressure The European Parliament voted in November 2016  in favor of a non-binding motion supporting victims who have not been compensated more than 50 years after their mothers took the drug to combat morning sickness, with devastating results. The parliament motion urged  ‘…the German Federal Government to use the opportunity presented by the forthcoming amendment to the Thalidomide Foundation Act to allow thalidomide survivors, who have been accredited as such by court-appointed trust schemes or are beneficiaries of national government schemes, to access the Special Health Fund of the German Thalidomide Foundation for People with Disabilities;

It specifically covers some 2,700 German thalidomide sufferers, 500 in Britain and Italy, 200 in Spain and 100 in Sweden. More importantly it formally seeks to redress inequities and responsibilities previously ignored or badly acknowledged.

Concerns

  • Charity is not consistent, always equitable or the best way to resolve an issue.
  • National interests and different cultures can complicate the public interest in charitable support and understanding.
  • The natural inclination is to trust; doctors, charities, professionals and  governments (but not politicians).
  • Medical discoveries and new treatments may supplant or improve outcomes sometimes by new charitably funded research and such endeavours  should be encouraged not be discouraged.
  • Accepting responsibility and accountability takes far too long. There is often a culture of cover up and obfuscation even when dealing with serious individual harm.
  • Despite Thalidomide and Promodos other medications with side effects are available. Remain vigilant!