Accountant Who Stash it Away


We bleat on about high reserves and excessive investments so it should be no surprise to find a conservative profession like the Institute of Chartered Accountant should have tucked away 25 years worth of current expenditure in it’s own benevolent association reserves.

2016 Accounts (the latest available)

  • Uncommitted reserves of £117m are covered by cash, debtors and investments.
  • The average expenditure over 5 years is £3.7m (although last year it increased to £4.6m) equal to 31 or 25 years expenditure even assuming no new income!
  • The investment management fees and costs of generating investment income are not an insignificant £184,000 pa. How much more hidden in the transactions and cost of fund management is not stated.
  • Dividends and interest on investment were £2,221,000 gross resulting in  a cost equal to 8.3%.
  • ‘The Trustees say they continue to monitor the level of reserves and acknowledge that, although substantial, they’re appropriate at their current levels….’  Let us hope this does not presage a flurry of inappropriate new vanity ventures.

Despite a recent PR puff piece we will have to wait another 6 months to get an update on the financial position for these Chartered Accountants in need!


The Arts Council – Song and Dance Routine

Elisabeth Murdock daughter of media mogul Rupert was appointed a trustee to the £750m pa Arts Council earlier this year. As part of the  governing board she joins Sir Nicholas Serota husband of Teresa Gleadowe who is a trustee of Cornubian Arts & Science Trust . Elisabeth is also trustee of Freedlands Foundation that gave a significant grant to Cornubian Arts & Science Trust. In neither of Elisabeths trusteeship reports on the Charity Commission web site does she include a reference to her other appointment as would be appropriate.

£725m is a not an insignificant sum of tax payers and lottery players money to dole out including to ‘posh’ opera an amount expected to reach £228m over the next 5 years. Let us hope Elisabeth has wider musical tastes so the cash is fairly spread around the music genres and the important UK industry.


Ocean Keeps It’s Feet Super-Dry

Donating shares to Charities can be an effective and economic means of providing support as the founder of Superdry discovered. Julian Dunkerton co-founder of  Superdry is to gift £1.2m of shares to The Blue Marine Foundation as he steps down from the company  he founded. Superdry is currently worth £1.75bn and he is reputed to own 25%.

Blue Marine Foundation

This ‘Blue Belt’ ocean supporting charity reports  the UK is the ‘fifth largest marine estate in the world and can play a leading role in protecting the oceans. Its overseas territories are spread across the world’s oceans and contain 94% of Britain’s biodiversity’.

The Blue Belt includes  British Overseas Territories of Ascension Island, British Antarctic Territory, British Indian Ocean Territory, Pitcairn Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha. The aim is the creation of globally significant marine reserves in British waters. #BackTheBlueBelt.

Donating Shares

  • Many charities actively encourage the donation of quoted company shares. Even small numbers of shares are useful as they can be aggregated and sold as a ‘lot’.
  • You don’t have to pay Capital Gains Tax on shares you give to charity and can claim income tax relief on your self assessment form.
  • Shares donated in your will can be taken off the value of your estate before Inheritance Tax is calculated or reduce your Inheritance Tax rate, if more than 10% of your estate is left to charity.
  • As well as being philanthropic donated shares like those of Julian Dunkerton can boost a charities reserves or be used for projects.

The Magnificent Seven – Royal Wedding Charities

Not quite walking down the aisle to the theme tune of the Magnificent Seven but it is the thoughts and deeds that counts in the wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Markle.

The Royal wedding will help seven small charities that have been selected to benefit in lieu of wedding gifts. A boost in profile and potential donations will highlight and support the work done by the couples selected beneficiaries.

The Chosen Seven

  1. The Children’s HIV Association  supports children growing up with HIV and their families.
  2. Crisis,  the national charity for homeless people aims to help people directly out of homelessness.
  3. Myna Mahila Foundation is a charity which empowers women in Mumbai’s urban slums.
  4. Scotty’s Little Soldiers is the charity for bereaved Armed Forces children. Originally inspired by the experience of war widow Nikki Scott.
  5. StreetGames uses sport to change lives across the UK, helping people and communities to become healthier, safer and more successful.
  6. Surfers Against Sewage is a national marine conservation and campaigning charity, which inspires, unites and empowers communities to take action to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife.
  7. The Wilderness Foundation UK promotes the benefits and enjoyment of wild nature. The charity helps build resilience in vulnerable teenagers, introduces rural employment to urban youth, and brings science to life.


It is a pleasant change for this site to only be looking at positive charitable actions.

There is nothing to stop the public using the wedding as a reason for donating to other charities.

There seems to be a charity amongst the seven to appeal to most royalists, democrats and republicans alike.

More information on The Royal.UK website

Breech of Regulation by Charities Professionals

Auditors are failing in their statutory duty to report matters of material significance to the relevant charities regulator. The regulators have a hard enough job without those paid professional auditors abdicating their duties. The obligations include those brought in from May 2017 after the collapse of Kids Company and the conclusions of the Public Administration& Constitutional Affairs Select Committee.

In the last 6 months 114 modified audit reports have been issued by auditors but  only 6 immediately complied and passed on their concerns (22 more did so later). That leaves 86 charities and auditors in default.

Charity SORP  changes since December 2017 will a require 21 changes to FRS 102 including comparatives and clarification on gift aid.

FRC regulate auditors, accountants and actuaries, and set the UK’s Corporate Governance and Stewardship Codes. They should promote transparency and integrity in business.  They claim to understand that auditors and charities are often overburdened by ever increasing regulatory guidance but that can obscure the needs of a charities donors, beneficiaries and other parties.

Charity Finance Group (CFG) was founded in 1987. It is the charity that works to improve the financial leadership of charities, promote best practice, inspire change and help organisations to make the most out of their money so they can deliver the biggest possible impact for beneficiaries. CFG has over 1300 members and membership manages nearly £21 billion in charitable income. In addition to qualified audit reports auditors may prefer to use management letters rather than ‘damage’ there personal relationship with clients and trustees.


Internal and external audit can be a mixed blessing for charities but they should inform a wider audience than individual managers and trustees. They need to be on top of there game to help the charity sector take timely action and avoid bad publicity after issues are uncovered.


Three Imprisoned Monks before Charity Commission Act

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.


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.

RNIB The Institute for Turning a Blind Eye

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry following concerns over safeguarding at RNIB flagship ‘Pears Centre’ the children’s home (formerly called Rushton Hall school).

An Ofsted report in January, following a series of poor reports, said a high number of incidents and accidents involving pupils could lead to withdrawal of Pears Centre’s registration.

Back in 2003 the head teacher and another senior staff member of Rushton Hall school were suspended  after the school was judged to fall below minimum standards.

The Charity Commission Investigation

‘The inquiry will focus in particular on the trustees’ governance and oversight of safeguarding arrangements in the charities’ schools and care homes and will be reviewing whether trustees reported all relevant safeguarding incidents which have occurred to the Commission.

The Commission’s investigation will examine the extent to which the trustees of the charities have taken and are taking reasonable steps to protect users at the Pears Centre from harm.’

The RNIB’s chief executive Sally Harvey resigned as the investigation started. She was only in post from October 2017 having been acting CEO for a year before that.


Six or eighteen months tenure as Chief Executive is not long to solve deep seated problems and effect culture change. There are various scenarios for Sally Harvey’s departure including scapegoating, departure before being pushed and resignation on principle as it happened on her watch.

Is this a  ‘tip of the iceberg’ case as experience shows that when problems seem bad they are often even worse?



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.

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.


  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.

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.

Charitable Persimmon? Charitable Chief Executive?

Persimmon January 2018 COMMUNITY CHAMPIONS

Persimmon Community Champions is a national programme by the housebuilding company where charities and groups can apply for funding up to the value of £1,000 to match money they have already raised themselves. Groups and charities can apply every month for a donation.

Persimmon Community Champions  is there to fund good causes and 61 UK charities and community groups received total amount of £59,210  from Persimmon in January 2018.

‘Each of Persimmon’s 29 businesses and the PLC head office are giving away up to £2000 each every month that’s a whopping £60,000 a month available to fund local community initiatives’ according to there web site’. (Who defines whopping? not the chief executive!)

Long Term Incentive Plan (Management Bung)

The Persimmon plc Chief Executive, Jeff Fairburn, has just been awarded a bonus in excess of  £100,000,000. Senior managers claim to be entitled to a further £500,000,000. That is taking entitlement to extremes and has stoked the ire of many.

“Jeff Fairburn considers his plans for any charitable giving to be a private matter and will not comment ”. However the story may not end there as a private charitable trust ( yet to be set up) may be used as a maneuver to avoid  HMRC  tax collectors who are looking to collect income tax and capital gains tax.

Would this potential private charitable trust be independent anf charitable (in Fairburn should we trust). For a better example, why not give 90% or more of the £600 million to an established charity working for the homeless. At least there would be some poetic justice.

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
Sources of Income
Stewardship of funds and asset. There is a useful directory at the end.

Inflating Your Donations

Increasing regular charity contributions is now a well practiced art or even a science. I  am currently considering some requests from various charities that have demonstrated an inflationary increase. The inflation that concerns me covers more than the economic version relating to increased prices but covers inflating by making something bigger (like a balloon about to burst?) I will leave legacy marketing  and recruitment drives for future posts.

Donation Inflation

In a 2017 mail shot from the Red Cross for Easter Donations they specifically requested £87, £168, or £344 donations. Strange and not insignificant sums, perhaps they were originally priced in Euros. On the response slip there was space for a different amount ‘whatever you feel able to give’ but by then I was disengaged. Looking at some of their current web campaigns £30, £50 and £100 are the default requests for example UK Solidarity, Yemen Crisis, The Disaster Fund and many others. The Syrian Fund starts by requesting the lower sum of £10.

Historically standing orders and direct debits were popular ways of attracting donations to charities and £2 was a very common and largely pain less starting point. This has morphed into a base £5 and added to that there are the regular ‘extra requests’.

Yesterday the RSPB mailed members including my self with a request to give £10, £25 or £50 to help ‘Coasts in Crisis’. I admit to a preference for helping the Marine Conservation Society but have asked the RSPB if the Coasts in Crisis funds will be ring fenced specifically to the needs identified in the request. So far I have received no reply and I fear the donations will end up within general income.( A speedy reply from RSPB advised me that Coast Crisis funds will indeed be ring fenced and kept separate to be used just for the nominated purpose. A big star for that reply.)

We are all victims of our own prejudices as I showed above preferring MCS to RSPB . In that vein I do not begrudge the Big Issue where street vendors buy the magazine for £1.25 and sell it for £2.50 even though I remember it’s inception in 1991 when it cost far less and twice as many people supported the cause.

With a new Chairman at the National Trust and a traumatic year behind them you may have expected NT to batten down the hatches. Not a bit of it, they have increased the membership fees for 2018 by 6.5% (the current RPI is 1.1% and consumer price index 0.3% ONS). This is despite squirreling away shares and investments of  over £1,237,000,000 or one and a quarter billion pounds.  Each year it costs over a million pound just to look after that many equities! The Trust seems arrogant, complacent, well out of touch and in danger of loosing public trust.

Read more Dissing the National Trust.

Donation Inflation Concerns

  • Even in these few examples there seems to be a concerted attempt to ‘up the ante’ when it comes to generating more income. Because they can doesen’t mean they should!
  • Donors may rightly feel they are being fleeced by charity staff seeking expansion without just cause. Bigger isn’t always beautiful.

Charity Worker in Peril – Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe  a 37 year old charity worker was on holiday visiting her family in Iran. In April 2016 at the airport trying to return to the UK  she was detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard without access to a lawyer. She is accused of “… allegedly plotting to topple the Iranian regime” and was initially sentenced to 5 years in prison.

Her 2 year old daughter who has British citizenship  had her British passport confiscated and is stranded in Iran with her grandparents.

Nazanin who has dual nationality currently works as a project manager for the Thomson-Reuters Foundation which delivers charitable projects around the world but does not work in Iran.

It appears from media reports that Nazarin is now a political football involving the UK government and compensation due to Iran for a cancelled tank contract plus the resolution of frozen Iranian assets. Why this charity worker was targeted in the first place is unclear. However how can it be right to subject a very young child with British nationality to this treatment.
Politics and charity work often need to work hand in hand but this case seems to display no charity!

Concerted Fund Harvesting by Just4Children

Just4Children registered as 1164473 – JUST HELPING CHILDREN is fund raising for children to receive medical treatment, therapies, living environments, equipment and holidays that would not otherwise be available to them.

From what seems to be a standing start they have been a funding success, raising £948,000 in the first twelve months of operation to September 2016. It will be fascinating to see the 2017 accounts  probably not available until June next year.

The Basic Financial Model

The prime aim is for the ‘relief of sickness and preservation of health of children’ and this is achieved by managing the fund raising efforts of family, friends and the public primarily using individual children cases.

Individual fund raising pages are set up under the charities brand powered by Just Giving. The resulting income and other ‘designated funds’  collected through targeted fundraising campaigns are held by the charity pending expenditure.

General funds are raised from donations via methods and platforms other than Just Giving. Fund raising activities include collecting in public houses, a ‘weather lottery’ and many beneficiaries efforts.

The first year’s accounts reported over 70 case studies of individual children with ‘identified needs and desires’ that included; intensive Oxygen Therapy in Slovakia, £35,000 for physiotherapy and care in Canada  from a pioneering rehabilitation centre, American treatment, at a cost of  £300,000 for a boy with intractable epilepsy, £15,000 to fund post ‘Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy’ operation therapy and other examples.


  • Funds are ‘Unrestricted Designated funds’ or unrestricted general funds. There are currently no restricted funds. The legal distinctions may not be obvious to contributors or beneficiaries.
  • Conflicts may arise if the required sum is not reached or the need for treatment changes.
  • When using the many other recommended methods of raising funds for a specific case the software did not seem to guarantee the funds would be accurately designated.
  • The charity is breaking new ground in a difficult and emotion driven area. Progressively more time will be needed to monitor bad faith cases, unacceptable treatments, exploiters and manipulators. Is the organisation a gatekeeper and financier rather than a provider of medical assistance and support.
  • Even large charities like Action for Children with 150 times more annual income than Just4 children  and 140+ years behind them can disappear. Scope could not come to charitable terms with new Cerebral Palsy procedures. It is not a comfortable life being a trustee.

What is in a Name

Looking at one aspect of one charity, (in this case fund raising in a public house and Just4Children) many varied issues may surface. In a confusion of names Just4Children is a registered charity called Just Helping Children 1164473.  In a further confusion their  marketing and fund raising should not be confused with Just4Kids 1151263 aka Chloe’s and Sophie’s Special Ears Fund.  Action for Children helped children and young people for 148 years until Septemebr 2016 when it was put into administration along with brand names 4Children, 4Children (Trading) Limited, 4Children (Direct) Limited, 4Children (Gloucestershire) Limited, 4Children (Plymouth) Limited, 4Children (Worcestershire) Limited (collectively “the Charity”) all in administration.

Regulating the Fundraising Regulator

The Fundraising Regulator (FR)

  • The FR is to be funded to the tune of £ 1.75 million by contributions from the circa 1500 charities that have spent at least £100,000 per annum on fundraising activities. Is this a tax on your donations? It sure is a cost to the charities.
  • As custodians of the Code of Fundraising Practice FR are making changes to emphasise that any activity involving personal data falls under data protection laws.  From May 2018 there will be new sections in the code on Data Protection and Direct Marketing
  • The FR will also expand definitions of “processing”, “consent” “legitimate interest” and  relevant terms.
  • In December 2017 FR announced that it has scrapped its annual complaints report and will not publish complaints for two years.  Oh that is alright then, no problem, it is what you would think you  are paying for even if you were unaware.
  • The FR defines teleappending as ‘where a charity identifies a telephone number for a supporter on their database where that person has not provided their telephone details, but hasn’t objected to phone calls.’   mmm watch this space.

Other Regulators

  • In a recent announcement the Charity Commission has been awarded extra funding from the Government of £5 million per year to help it respond to significant increases in demand as a interim solution. The regulator will consult on the option of another levy probably on the largest charities. Bearing in mind the FR levy this sounds like deja vu.
  • Currently the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) receives an annual grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to  undertaking there statutory duties in respect of freedom of information. From May 2018 new charges will replace the system with three tiers based on  size, turnover and whether an organisation is a public authority or charity. Costs will vary with large organisations increasing payments from £40 to £2900. Remember two years ago when the ICO fined the RSPCA and British Heart Foundation £25,000 and £18,000 respectively for breaches under the Data Protection Act 1998 including wealth screening and donor profiling.
  • Auditors are required by all charities with an income over £1 million, or with an income over £250,000 and with gross assets over £3.26 million.


In the December 2017 report from the Charities commission in England and Wales they report there are 168,237 registered charities with a combined gross income in excess of £75 billion.


Pornography on the BBC

The charity BBC Media Action 1076235 with its sister charity in India works around the world in the areas of health, governance, humanitarian, education and climate. If like me you have never heard of this charity you may be surprised to find they spent £48m of largely  public money last year. Since 2011 the UK Department for International Development (DFID) has given a £90 million grant that was due to end in 2017 and is not yet renewed. In 2017 there were 838 staff 187 of whom are on UK contracts (23 staff earn over £60,000).  Formerly called the BBC World Service Trust the rebranded charity is not funded from the BBC or the license fee. However they work closely with the BBC sharing procedures and the chair of trustees is Francis Unsworth the Director of BBC News. (She may currently regret being in her own news).

Pornography and Harassment

This week the charity has hit the headlines in the Oxfamgate saga. Over a period under review six staff have been dismissed for sexual harassment and watching pornography on work computers. In a couple of cases no grounds for formal disciplinary action were found. In a statement the charity say none of the issues investigated involved beneficiaries nor were there any child protection issues. However problems have never been reported to the main funder DFID nor made public so who knows if further revelations will be forthcoming. After the Jimmy Savile saga do not expect any exposè programme from the BBC.
In a previous public sector case an individual was dismissed for having and watching pornography on a works computer. Surprisingly he was back at the same organisation within a couple of years. At least he was not passed on to another unsuspecting organisation.

Oxfam a View on the Oldest Profession

Oldest Profession

Commonly held views can lead to errors of judgement. It is a widely and satirically held view that  the oldest profession is that of being a prostitute. In defending Ofam’s staff’s use of prostitutes in Haiti  Mark Goldring the chairman of Oxfam said ‘……makes you wonder what did we do? Murder babies in their cots?’ All this comment achieved was to provide fodder for the media industry (in our opinion not one of the older or more honourable professions).

Charity work has a valid claim to being the oldest profession. In the Garden of Eden the fruit of the tree of knowledge was given to Eve. There after the parable of ‘the Good Samaritan’ highlighted the good  work done by those who see a need and act to resolve the issue without thought of personal reward. (A massive thanks to all the modern day humanitarian samaritan charity workers operating with integrity.)

Many other profession should and are being called to account over abuse. Church and religious leaders have committed abuse on children then sought to orchestrate a cover up. Politicians have used there positions of power and influence thereby creating sex scandals. The entertainment industry, not wishing to miss out,  proclaim ‘#me too’. That is after years of ‘the casting couch’ innuendos. We wouldn’t expect all our military to be celibate and fervently hope no ‘scurrilous scandals’ emerge in these professions. Investigations in to the protection of the vulnerable by public sector professionals and workers has exposed the dramatic failings in Rotherham, Oxford, Newcastle and other UK areas.


Abuse and issues within a sector, in this case the aid charities, runs deeper than sexual and physical abuse. The current exposé should create a more open environment to address all the moral and human failings but do not expect the problems to be eliminated anytime soon.

Unfortunately many of the leaders in the aid and humanitarian sector do not seem to understand their aid work  is being undertaken ‘In My Name’ and in the name of all supporters, donors and right-minded people.

When a problem looks bad, experience shows it is probably far worse than originally thought. It is also a truism that a cover up will cause at least if not more opprobrium to be brought to the obsfucators.

There are numerous media reports on what could be called Oxfamgate which you may choose to investigate. As the dust settles Charity Chit Chat will revisit the core issues and the leadership needed to move forward.


Begging Letters & Incentive Gifts

Charity fund raisers annoy their potential donors with unnecessary ‘gifts’ such as pens, printed labels, cards even unwanted badges and lapel items. It is a double whammy of annoyance if some of these items arrive in a begging letter.

Begging Letters

  1. The scourge of begging letters continues despite the establishment in July 2017 of a new Fundraising Preference Service that was set up by the Fundraising Regulator (FR). This new scheme allows individuals to have their names and addresses removed from charity databases. On the FR website you can select up to 3 registered charities at a time to block these communications – cumbersome but better than nothing according to the estimated 10,000 users. Theoretically unsolicited, targeted mailshots should then become a thing of the past. Too late for Olive Cooke the lady who committed suicide in 2015 after receiving thousands of begging letters that she felt some compulsion to respond too.
  2. What of the rest of the iceberg in the form of anonymised mailshots such as ‘Dear Householder’ or magazine inserts of an unaddressed envelope containing a request for financial contributions. The FR believe 250 million such anonymous letters are produced and sent annually. It keeps printers, envelope manufacturers and marketeers in business but is it the business of charities to engage in such a high volume of begging activity. Using sophisticated software even the annonymised letters can be targeted to a post code or even a postman’s walking route where the sender hopes to get a higher response.

Incentive Gifts

  1. Over a third of complaints to FR are about begging letters and unnecessary gifts and incentives. Behind these complaints are the feeling that the money is wasted and should be spent on the charitable purpose.
  2. There is potentially a perverse blackmail element when a ‘charity’ sends you something for nothing you may feel pressured to donate.
  3. Members of the public feel a lack of control over such fundraising approaches. In many cases it acts as a deterrent not an incentive to be involved with that charity.
  4. It is down to a personal choice and the majority are happy to wear a ‘poppy with pride’ but many do not want to be a walking advert wearing a sticky label or affinity badge.
  5. Lord Grade the Chair of the FR has a bit of a thing about ‘plastic pens’ and would like to put a stop to their indiscriminate distribution. Also on his list of fundraising miss selling are intrusive and overly aggressive telephone calls, pressurised legacy seeking, and some texting, emailing and social media methods.(In the worst cases this may include wealth screening, data matching, tele-appending and reuse of public information)


  • Charity provides different strokes for different folks and shouldn’t be micro managed at the expense of missing the major problems such as legality, probity, honesty and integrity.
  • A plastic pen or daffodil is not a big bribe nor to many an appropriate incentive but is it such a big deal.
  • No one is under an obligation to pay for unsolicited mailings of charity cards or personalised address labels.

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



No Space(y) for a Chief Executive

THE OLD VIC THEATRE TRUST 2000 Charity number 1072590 – has suffered in the wake of the Kevin Spacey press revelations. Since the regenesis of the Old Vic under the chief executive Sally Greene, Spacey has played his role to historic acclaim, if not the acclaim of the 20 or so men who claimed to be victims of his inappropriate behaviour. He was appointed by Sally Greene as artistic director in 2004.
Now Sally is stepping down as Chief Executive but she is to be appointed  ‘Founding Trustee’ – not much difference there then. The chief executive role is ‘to be retired permanently’ in proposed changes to governance. Other charities may very well be considering the position of Chief Executive, Chair or key officers.
Sally remains Managing Director of the Criterion Theatre Trust and owner of Ronnie Scott’s jazz club.

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.

Donation for Homeless Used by Salvationist

Major Nottle the leader of the Salvation Army in Australia has defended his organisation’s actions after his daughter was given tickets to a Paul McCartney concert  that had been donated to give ‘a bit of a lift’ for homeless people. Chris McDonald, the donor and a former homeless person was surprised to see two well-dressed people in the allocated seats and he discovered they were  Major Nottle’s daughter and her partner. “I have been a recipient of their relief so I know how important the work they do is, but the golden rule is never to dip your hand into the donations – it calls the integrity of the entire organisation into dispute.”

Denying the Unacceptable

  1. “It had absolutely nothing to do with me,” Major Nottle told Radio 3AW. Thus spoke a true leader.
  2. “The manager did the ring around of other homeless people and volunteer staff and wasn’t able to move them [the tickets] because it was so late.” And also because most homeless people do not have telephones.
  3. “When you’re working with homeless people, to be blunt, do homeless people need tickets to Paul McCartney or do they need a roof over their head?” Well the donor had personal experience and this sort of comment is crass.
  4. The Salvation Army will reimburse the donor for all seven tickets, Nottle said, adding that concert tickets were not an appropriate donation for homeless people. Guardian There is an implication that this will come out of Salvation Army Funds? Major Nottle’s comments and actions will put off other creative donations.

In the words of Paul McCartney songs now it’s the time to Let it Be because All You Need is Love (and a roof over your head). Still there is Hope of Deliverance.

Little Local Charities

 Much is written about the large national and international charities but spare a thought for the small local outfits that go to the cost and trouble of registering with the charities commission. The range of activities is vast and the volunteers and organisers produce some spectacular results within their chosen fields. These are just some of these niche charities within a 5 mile radius of my base.
The Bambisanani Partnership 1163461 links a school in Yorkshire with a partner school, Mnyakanya High Schoo in KwaZulu Natal, using sport, education and good citizenship. Registered in England, the charity raises £70,000 pa to send students to Africa to teach and share with the pupils at the partner school. Pupils also visit an Aids HIV orphanage.
Service organisation Otley Lions are supporters of the partnership but most of the funds are raised by the pupils of St Mary’s.
Hive Bradford 1100741 has for 30 years  been a community arts center based in Shipley. They are a membership organisation that offers creative opportunities for personal and social development including classes, volunteering and training. Annual income is £200,000 with a staff equivalent to 11 FTE. In addition to this employment they provide a drop-in facility, WEA courses and a large range of art inspired activities.

Newlands Furniture Service 1173732 – has only been registered in the last 6 months but for many years it has recycled furniture particularly to those setting up a new home but without the financial means to acquire even the basics like knives and forks, table and chairs.  Subject to Big Lottery finding they hope to add the provision of food for the local needy.  The charity registration may have been driven out of the need to be independent from Newlands  Community Aassociation 1091241 -which was significantly over due from submitting accounts for 2015 and a year late for march 2016. This organisation had income of £275,000 and investments of over £2m and should be taking more care to be compliant with the Charity Commission reporting requirements.


We wish all these charities and other organisations every success for the coming year

Slogans that Work or Not

 Working Slogans

  • ‘Oxford Committee for Famine Relief’  the original that has done what it said on the tin.The original name of the global poverty alleviation charity  Oxfam 202918
  • ‘Put your foot down…’ MAG mines 1083008 – The Mines Advisory Group with £37m a year spent clearing mines
  • ‘Sometimes you need help from above’  – London’s Air Ambulance 801013
  • ‘On the shelf’   an auction in aid of   The National Literacy Trust 1116260
  •  ‘We’ll go through it with you’  Samaritans  That is suicide they were talking about  – I don’t think so.
  •  ‘always there for you’ Macmillan Cancer Support no matter how hard they try they can’t always be there – too much expectation!
  • Whatever it takes to save a child.   Unicef
  • Holding Power Accountable  Common Cause

Environment Slogans

  • Turtle hero
  • Bee cause
  • Because the earth needs a good lawyer  Earth justice
  • No Fin to Declare a petition calling on the EU to ban the personal importation of ALL shark fins to Europe. Bite-Back, the UK shark and marine conservation charity

Charity T-Shirts

  • When it comes to charity; many people stop at nothing.
  • Don’t delay give today!
  • There is no I in team but there should be U in volunteer
  • Welfare over wealth
  •  Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government.
  • Sleazy does it!
  • I’m perfect


Please send us your witty or pithy slogans.