It Takes Two to Tandem

1107331 – OPEN COUNTRY is a 30 year old northern based charity whose objective is to enable anyone with a disability to access the countryside. They achieve this through a variety of countryside activities including supported cycling and the provision of information, training and advice.

Thankfully 59 organisations including donors, public sector groups, charities and companies have supported this charity in the year to 31st March 2018. Let’s hope their insurers and the police are also able to support them and help replace some stolen tandem bikes that the charity recently fund raised for. These bikes were used to promote and protect the physical and mental health of disabled people. Unfortunately some ne’re-do-wells  have stolen some bikes which cost upwards of £1500 each.

Comment

  • It is a constant surprise how many people will steal from charities and those in need. How can Britain halt the moral decay that fosters thieving and fraud against charities.
  • Fortunately this charity seems to be well established with about a years cash held in reserves. Hopefully a strong network of support will help them continue the work of supporting the disabled to access and enjoy the countryside.

Indian Tribal Forest Dwellers To Be Evicted

Survival international 267444 is a UK based  human rights organisation campaigning for the rights of indigenous tribal peoples. The head of the organisation Stephen Corry has taken up the cause of over a million tribal people in India. They face  being evicted from their homeland forest and jungle land after a couple of rulings by India’s supreme court. Evictions  are to be executed in the next few months under official and police supervision.

Indian law gave legal rights over forest land  to tribes and forest-dwelling communities provided they could prove their families have stayed there for at least three generations. However in mineral and resource rich areas the ability to defend this right has been heavily compromised.

Not all wildlife groups and conservationists are in favour of the tribes rights and their views have been used in a one sided court case that has brought the current issue to the fore.

‘With more than 700 tribal groups, India is home to over 100 million indigenous people. While the forest land is legally controlled by the government, people have lived in such areas for centuries.’ (Washington Post). Yet over the last 30 years, 5000 square miles of forests  have been lost to encroachments and 24,000 industrial projects.  It is believed that conditions under which these projects are given forest land are widely violated. (Scroll In)

Comment

  • This post takes an opportunity to highlight a UK charity with global reach in support of vulnerable people and Traditional Forest Dwelling tribes.
  • The conflicts created by government, business and environmental lobbies can leave ‘tribes’ without any appropriate support or unified voice.
  • In this Indian case it appears that some charities are conflicted and are pursuing action that will positively harm the tribes.

Billionaires Tax and Oxfam’s Poverty Reports

Oxfam no 202918 is a registered charity in England and Wales  and in Scotland SC039042. Oxfam GB is one of 20 members of the international confederation Oxfam.

From accounts just published in respect of 2017/18 Oxfam GB spent £336.9m on charitable work (£173.2m on humanitarian work, £151.6m on  development work and £12m on campaigning. A further £100m was spent on trading costs (net income £18.9m) and fundraising.)

Also just published is a report on equality and poverty saying ‘Last year, the poorest half of the world became 11% poorer, while billionaires’ fortunes rose 12% – or $2.5 billion every day….. The gap between the richest and poorest people is growing.’

Having  a Pop at Billionaires

The poverty report wants to engender a movement that creates a higher tax income from the Super-rich. This simplistic approach applies whether they are rich in terms of income or asset values. Rich list Americans like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Microsoft’s Bill & Miranda Gates, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, the Walton family of Walmart fame, Warren Buffett, the Koch brothers and the Mars family who are collectively worth well in excess of $500 billion.

Large corporations systematically hide their corporate profits in overseas tax havens to avoid tax. This is supported by Oxfam research under the headline ‘Drug companies as tax dodgers, price gougers, and influence peddlers that named four pharmaceutical corporations – Abbott, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co and Pfizer. Tax dodging, high prices, and political influencing by drug companies exacerbate the yawning gap between rich and poor.’

Comment

  • Oxfam is going through a turbulent period and interested charity watchers will be pouring over their latest annual reports and accounts. These detail some of the structural changes planned or implemented to restore the recent loss of confidence.
  • Billionaires are an apparently easy target to gain extra resources. Where is the effort to curtail corruption, political incompetence/misfeasance and other forms of oppression which would wastes resources gained from a billionaires tax.
  • Oxfam is a large and potentially cumbersome organisation that in our opinion needs to continue changing and honing down it’s focus to protect the core work that it should do.

Not a Day to be Depressed 21.1.19

Papyrus are led to believe that  21 January 2019  is the most depressing day of the year! With Christmas and New Year over some children and young adults will be going back to school, college or university and dreading the thought.

Rather than accept this Blue Monday, Papyrus suggest you try and have a Soothe Monday. A day ‘ where we can talk about our worries, feelings, mental health, suicidal thoughts. It could be a day we actually listen to people and, instead of taking it for granted when they say they are fine, we ask them again and again until we get an honest answer. It could be A DAY WHEN WE ALSO ACTUALLY LISTEN TO OURSELVES!!!’

 

Comment

This is just one of several laudable campaigns and approaches by Papyrus

Food For Thought – Food from Fighting

In the January news ‘Surplus operational army ration packs’ are to be donated by the Ministry of Defence (MOD) to 1100051 FaresShare. It is anticipated that this food will then be distributed for cooking by local charities to support the needy.

FareShare is a charity consisting of 20 Regional Centres  aimed at relieving food poverty and reducing food waste in the UK. It does this by rescuing good quality surplus food that would otherwise have gone to waste and sending it to almost 10,000 charity and community groups across the United Kingdom

FareShare manages 3 key centres and provides a network of third-party independent of other charities with central support. FareShare also provides a service, known as  FoodCloud, which reduces store level food waste and contributes £2m to the charities income.

Similar Food Sharing Charities to investigate include:
1146847 – FARESHARE LEICESTER
1075477 -FARESHARE YORKSHIRE LIMITED
1134423 –  FOODCYCLE
1159512 –  THE WASTE AND RESOURCES ACTION PROGRAMME (WRAP)
 1110522 – THE TRUSSELL TRUST

Observations.

  • The FareShare charity seems to well connected within the sector and to its important supporters.
  • Waste elimination and better use of resources is a political high profile cause and likely to continue attracting attention and support.
  • FareShare externally seems to be financially well set up and in a position to deliver on its objectives.
  • Income from individuals is not critical so in our opinion support should be directed towards the  charities delivering the food and service.

The Power of Appropriate Patrons

1141827 – MEGAN BAKER HOUSE LTD

‘Through conductive education sessions, children with a variety of motor disorders, including cerebral palsy and dyspraxia,  learn ways in which they can live their lives as independently as possible.  In the same way, we also help adults with parkinson’s and stroke.  These life changing sessions are accessed by families from within the surrounding counties as well as other regions of the country.’

The Power of Patrons

With 2 doctors among the 6 trustees do medical and disability based charities need patrons and ambassadors? Well like many charities the answer is yes. It is essential to improve the awareness, profile and understanding of the charities issues and the objectives they seek to address. That patrons help with fund raising is also a key role for Patrons.

Patrons for Megan Baker House :

Jo Brand,  Lady Foley,  Professor Tamar Thompson OBE,  Sascha Kindred OBE,  Ian Whybrow , Bill Wiggin MP,  Colin Blunstone,  Linda Tolchard . Their ambassadors also include:  Charles Hazlewood and Grant Simmonds.

Comment

The charity seems to demonstrate it’s well thought out support to augment a professional team.

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.

 

 

Vegans are Coming

2019 could be the year of the Vegans considering how the media and health industry promoted them at the end of 2018. Along with many others I did not realise the Vegan Society  was a registered charity no 279228.

Their objects are ‘To further knowledge of and interest in sound nutrition and in veganism and the vegan method of agriculture as a means of increasing the potential of the earth to the physical, moral and economic advantage of humankind.
(b) to relieve elderly vegans who are in conditions of need.’ To satisfy these criteria it:-

‘promotes a way of life that seeks to avoid, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

It is an education charity providing information and support through publications, talks, interviews, websites and social media. The society advocates for all, including those in vulnerable situations.’

Sources of Annual Income include:-

  • Trademark licensing £755,000
  • Sale of materials promoting veganism £425,000
  • Membership fees £156,000
  • And donations and legacies  £37,000 amongst a total income of £1.46m

Other Comments

  • Gift aid  income curtesy of HMRC was £20,000
  • The auditor who signed a clean set of accounts was the aptly named Patrick Morrello almost after the cherry.
  • In addition to 10 trustees there is an advisory committee and ambassadors that include the vegan poet Benjamin Zephaniah

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.

Fact or Fiction – Fake News

As a reader of this blog you probably subscribe to the proverbial view ‘Believe half of what you see, and none of what you hear’. Well there is one charity, with cross political party members of the House of Lords as trustees, who seek to call fiction and fake news to account.
Registered charity no. 1158683 Full Fact seeks to improve the integrity of ‘facts’ quoted by others including politicians and the media.

‘It’s easy to trumpet the facts you care about, far harder to support the ones you don’t.’

Fact checks alone are not enough to halt the spread of misinformation but accurate and balanced information will help.  The charity says ‘It is also necessary to push for corrections where necessary, and work with government departments and research institutions to improve the quality and communication of information at source’.

Like Caesar Wife

  • Full Fact seeks to be beyond reproach and does not employ outside external  fundraisers or employ the kinds of fundraising tactics that give rise to recent public concern.
  • They had no recorded fundraising complaints in 2017.
  • The approach is that donors are a crucial part of the extended Full Fact team and deserve to be treated with respect.
  • They solicit donations from the public on the website and other online channels but are also supported by other charitable trusts. Funders giving more than £5,000 should be listed on the website.

Aspirations for 2019

  • Clear well presented facts reflecting both sides of an argument should be checked and treated with integrity.
  • Admission of any vested interest by public figures and the media.
  • Improved political debate followed by rapid and appropriate action.

Seagrass Spotter

1162824 –  PROJECT SEAGRASS
Project Seagrass was created with the mission of turning cutting-edge research into effective conservation action and education schemes, by collaborating with local communities. Seagrass meadows are subsea flowering plants that attract marine life and help fight the bacteria that are killing coral reefs. Seagrass can absorb large amounts of carbon and is a significant contributor in the environment.
During the financial year to 31 March 2018 ‘Project Seagrass received funding from;
a. The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi for the development of The
Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit.
b. Natural England for the yearly Isles of Scilly Seagrass Monitoring
Programme.
c. The Sustainable Places Research Institute, Cardiff University for
developments to our seagrass monitoring drone.’

Issues

  • Seagrass is slow to grow and is at risk from traditional anchorage methods. The national marine aquarium 1032491 is working on new ecomooring designs.
  • Cooperation among charities is seen as a viable way to optimise return for resources in the Marine environment. see MCS
  • There are plenty of niche charities to support but this may be one to keep an eye on as it develops.

Eye Don’t Believe It

1079949 – AGE CONCERN SLOUGH AND BERKSHIRE EAST

Who Would Be A Charity Auditor

When things are bad they are often worse. Having survived a whistle blowing episode in 2014 and remaining independent of the Age UK consolidation you would expect this charity to take extra care. With new enthusiasm let us hope this is what happens. Extracts from the latest published report and accounts continue the story.

‘Due to the fields of activity in which the charity operates and its trading enterprises, there is a risk that the charity could suffer serious reputational damage as a consequence of the actions of its staff (e.g. in
advocating for clients), volunteers, trustees or its wider interests such as campaigning. This risk is managed by ensuring …. that good governance arrangements are in place (e.g. declarations of interest and governance polices) to ensure all relevant legal, statutory
and regulatory compliance is adhered to.

The Trustees who served during the year to 31″March but have recently resigned were:
A Cannings
B Mittal
R Whitehouse
R Dhokia

R Akwa was appointed to the Board on 26 September 2018.

Post Balance Sheet event
Since the year end, the group concluded negotiations with a major supplier which resulted in the cancellation of certain amounts owed by the charity at the year end. The benefit of this transaction which relates to this financial year end is £105,975 and has been recognised in these financial reports

The amount due from the subsidiary … was unsecured, interest free and there were no fixed terms for repayment. The Trustees have considered the recoverability of this amount which was £321,484 (2017: f325,968) and in the opinion of the Trustees, the full amount should be recoverable and no provision against that amount needs to be made.’

Oddities from a cursory review of the report and accounts lodged with the charities commission include  the worries of a third year of excess costs over income: debtors of quarter of a million pounds when most shop income is taken as and when a sale arises:  Lease commitments lasting beyond 5 years that over time approach one million pounds:  Profit related pay introduced at loss making charity shops Handy Help Ltd

Concerns

  • Overtrading is a business risk and having opted for a business-charity model this outfit seems to have fallen foul in many ways. Such a badly broken business would be closed, as arguably this charity should be but how do they extract themselves and who will fill the social needs.
  • The charity has a 33% interest in Interhelp Limited the Age Concern company selling insurance and financial products. There is a negative balance sheet and adverse publicity has dogged the project.

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.

Dealers in Drugs – Opioids for the Masses

Not all drug dealers have the negative connotations  one associates with street drug suppliers; consider the pharmaceutical based  Welcome Foundation or the Sackler family.

1128926 The Dr Mortimer And Theresa Sackler Foundation’s aims are  ‘the advancement of research and education in England and Wales and
elsewhere in the fields of art, science and medical research.’ The Sacklers funded the Medical Research Center at the University of Cambridge, our School of Clinical Medicine and the Faculty of Medicine at Tel-Aviv university as well as numerous other research programs and fellowships.

The wealth of the $multi-billion families of Raymond and Mortimer Sackler arises from Purdue Pharma a privately owned and operated global company which sells the opiate drug Oxycontin and Oxycodone.

Issues For Purdue Pharma

  • Major health concerns continue to surface about the use and abuse of synthetic opioid drugs. Increased mortality, reduction in life expectancy and more suicide & liver disease are cited.
  • Federal judges in Ohio are allowing public health organisations to sue opioid manufacturers and distributors.
  • In Connecticut the attorney general alleges that ‘the Purdue Pharma’s board and executives made huge financial gains by misleading doctors and patients about how addictive their prescription opioid medications were’.
  • ‘Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said the family that owns the drug company Purdue Pharma is personally responsible for the company’s role in the opioid crisis’   purdue-‘pharma-family-oxycontin-abuse
  • Back in 2007 fraudulent promotion of OxyCotin resulted in a $600million fine for Purdue plus personal fines for the executives responsible. Perhaps this will now be an outbreak of litigation addiction.

Concerns Beyond Charity

  • Other drugs in widespread use in the UK including fentanyl, tramadol and methadone are prone to causing addiction and other health problems.
  • The United States is in the midst of a drug crisis, with dramatic increases in the rate of opioid overdose deaths. Australia’s drug research center says ‘Powerful opioid fentanyl poses serious risk of fatal overdose’. Wake up UK it is also happening here!
  • Can charity and business mix?
  • Who has the ability to police and prevent corporate and personal abuse of such powerful narcotics. Charities are left to pick up the pieces.

480 Year Old Wade’s Trust Leeds

224939 – CHARITIES OF THOMAS WADE AND OTHERS

This is a locally focused charity founded in 1530’s which owns large areas of open spaces & parks in Leeds.

Wade’s Charity  provides grants to registered charities and community groups across Leeds, funded by the £8.2million cash and investments held in trust by the charity. There is also a schedule of properties and maintained open spaces within the pre-1974 Leeds city boundary leased to Leeds Council. One example is ‘ Land with frontages to Ellerby Road, Morpeth Place, Zion  Street and Bow Street commonly called Smithies Garth were donated to the charity in 1898’ Other land at Gotts Park, Gledow Valley, Middleton and Kirkstall were green spaces acquired in the last century.

Grants are made to other charities within the pre-1974 city boundary of Leeds to support ‘facilities for recreation, amusement, entertainment and general social intercourse for citizens of every age of areas of population in the City of Leeds occupied in the main by the working classes including in any such objects the establishment of what are commonly known as Community Centres and Youth Centres’.

Observations

  • After almost half a millennium it is probably best to leave well alone for the trust to continue it’s good work.
  • The accounts submitted to the charity commission, the website and reports on grants made are very open and to be commended.
  • As with other ‘local’ organisations there is  a danger that more affluent areas are able to obtain more resources from such charities as Wades. This is partially due to their ability to envisaging larger schemes and having the local nous or chutzpah to ask for more.

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.

 

 

 

Own Goals at Professional Footballers Association

November was a Bad Month for PFA

The PFA has been embroiled in a  war of attrition since chairman Ben Purkiss publicly called for modernisation.   Gordon Taylor the well paid executive who has led the PFA for 37 years is having to defend on many fronts.

  • Why  do millions of pounds sit unused in the PFA accounts.
  • How Taylor was able to earn £2.29m last year, remuneration that makes him the highest-paid union official in Britain?
  • Ben Purkiss wants better communication with players and to have mental health higher on the agenda.
  • There is media interest in the growing number of former players now suffering from dementia.
  • Taylor is facing a wide-ranging number of complaints about his leadership over, the sexual-abuse scandal, stamp it out and the amount of money used to help former players.
  • Taylor has questioned Ben Purkiss’s eligibility as unpaid chairman.

The Charity Commission

The Charity Commission confirmed that another trustee Paul Elliott,  has resigned after he had entered into an IVA. Elliott’s resignation is due in part to the failure of the charity to obtain a waiver for him and represents a further blow to the PFA.

The Charity Commission has now opened a regulatory compliance case into the governance of the PFA charity, in effect an investigation into whether it has complied with charity rules. This followis concerns about matters of governance and the £2.3m salary of the PFA’s chief executive, Gordon Taylor.

The PFA have made a statement indicating that the recommendation for a review had come from the administration, headed by Taylor, rather than the union’s trustees, who are responsible for its governance as a charity, or management committee, responsible for its running. It said an independent QC would be appointed presumably by the administration.

Concerns

Too many own goals have been scored by this well funded and well paid administration. Where are the footballing members who should be helping to bringing the organisation to account.

Football teams have to pay for policing at matches. It seems reasonable that excessively affluent organisations such as this should pay for any necessary charity commission investigations.

Motability Mixes Business with Pleasurable Remuneration

Fleet of Vehicles

Motability is the umbrella for a series of organisations that  provide charitable grants to disabled people who would not otherwise be able to afford the vehicle or adaptations they need.

Motability is a registered charity No. 299745  with net assets of £154m and reserves of £109m.

Motability Operations Group is not a charity but is owned by  major banks Barclays, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland. No dividends are payable to the owners and surpluses should ultimately be donated or revert to the charity. There are reserves in the operations group of £2,430m. The operations company is the delivery company under contract for the Royal Chartered Motability service.

Motability Tenth Anniversary Trust No. 328160 -is a separate charity with over £200m in reserves. The cost for managing  this fund is £1.9m yet they they have no employees.’

 Issues

  • This structure of corporate and charity vehicles allows large surpluses to be made on the secondhand car market, commissions from the sale of insurance and the ability to claim  £750m pa  in tax relief.
  • The Daily Mail revealed ‘Boss of car scheme for the disabled is on £1.7million… and YOU pay…  Motability last night declined to say if Mr Betts will be awarded a further £2.2 million bonus, and denied concealing details of its executives pay ‘. Their accounts maintain his pay is less than £1m.
  • MPs recently questioned Motability’s lavish salaries and the combined   £4.4billion reserves and large cash stockpile. The result is to be further National Audit Office investigations which already critisise excess lease costs.

Charity Commission Report

Earlier this year the commission undertook a detailed review of the charity’s financial accounts and of its relationship with the non-charitable company Motability Operations. The outcomes are still being investigated but the initial conclusions included:

  • ..the pay of the CEO of its commercial partner Motability Operations may be considered excessive and may raise reputational issues for the charity.
  • we consider the level of operating capital held by the company in order to guarantee the scheme to be cautious’
  • A parliamentary Joint Select Committee  subsequently published a report and ‘in the interests of transparency’, Motability Operations and Motability voluntarily agreed for the National Audit Office (NAO) to conduct a value for money review

Comment

The investigative media have a role in highlighting hypocrisy, arrogance and extravagance both of which abound in parts of the charity industry. However the industry must rely on trust in trustees.

Regulation is often fragmented and slow to catch up. It  takes too long to investigate and obtain action but we should be grateful there are still some gatekeepers.

 

 

 

Disabled Veterans’ Scholarship Fund

The Open University operates under a Royal Charter RC000391. Currently the OU is seeking extra funds to be able to award more scholarships to disabled veterans.

It was intended to use The Big Give sponsored by The Reed Educational Trust to match the donations raised. Before the deadline was reached all the matched funds allocated had been utilised and £12,030 including gift aid had been raised.

The Big Give Christmas Challenge has a 2018 deadline of 4th December and there are many matchable project still live.

 

For more information on Royal Chartered bodies see the privy council report.

100 Years to Become a Charity

Background

The Rhododendron Camellia and Magnolia Group was originally formed in 1915 as the The Rhododendron Society.  They held the first Annual General Meeting at the Chelsea Flower Show in May 1916, and the centenary was celebrated in 2016 under the guidance of the RHS. In 2015 the group was given charitable status reg no 1161254. In August 2018 HRH The Prince of Wales agreed to become the charity’s first patron.

The special interest group has a partnership arrangement with the UK’s main garden charity the RHS. It was a more integral part of the RHS in recent years. As a new group with circa 750 members they twice failed to reach a quorum of members for the 2017 AGM.

Aims & Objectives

The Rhododendron Camellia and Magnolia Group aspire to educate the public about these garden plants, to help to conserve them for the future and to support professional gardeners and taxonomists by means of travel sponsorship to further knowledge of the three genera.

With the profile provided by the new patron the membership will hopefully increase, otherwise they may as well have stayed fully under the umbrella of the RHS. A centenary project and plant health problems will also increased the public awareness of the plant group.

Observations

This form of charitable ‘divide and rule’ with one charity ‘spinning off ‘ as another focused or specialist charity could be a model for other conglomerate type charities such as the National Trust, Oxfam etc.

Like many other membership organisations this is a small charity with niche special interests, modest income and resources. Are the benefits of being a charity appropriate?

 

Oxfam (India) Trust

The OXFAM (INDIA) TRUST charity commission for England and Wales registered no 277444 – seems to be defunct with no information on trustees or contacts available and accounts overdue by 1727 days.

Background

In 1951 Oxfam first started working in India to help with natural disasters. There was a need for relief in cases of famine, numerous floods even tsunamis together with the consequential humanitarian aid needs.

‘Oxfam India as a registered Non-profit under Section 8 of the Indian Companies Act, 2013’ still supports communities to help them cope with the impact of natural disasters but also focuses on gender equality, access to basic rights, campaigning, health and education.

Oxfam as part of Oxfam International seeks to address these problem with a “Rights Based Approach” ‘to bring a change in people’s lives through State and Institutional Accountability; Civil Society Participation; Empowering the Poor to Use Public Resources and Increased Social Inclusion of the Marginalised’.

Despite many areas and Indian states having a significant proportion of their population living below the poverty line India claims they have the resources, growing economic strength, knowledge and capacity to solve their own problems.

Concerns

  1. Oxfam had an unassailable position in disaster relief but for many years it has been drifting towards broader ‘social engineering’ that can dilute their impact. The core purpose could suffer a dilution of effectiveness despite best efforts.
  2. ‘Oxfam India’ is still evolving as an organisation and the ‘sympathy profile’ and the traditional ethos needs to be maintained.
  3. To maintain credibility, information management and communication needs to be consistent and upto date. The internet has a long memory and outdated data abounds.

 

 

 

Improvements Needed on Charity Reporting – Public Benefit

In a charity commission survey only 51% of charities surveyed demonstrated a clear understanding of public benefit reporting requirements. Only 74% of charities with income over £25,000 produced annual report and accounts of acceptable quality, so what of the other  26%? Among smaller charities the acceptable level of reporting was lower at only 64%.

The commission checks a random sample of trustees’ annual reports for the quality of reporting, including about public benefit, and would consider persistent non-reporting of public benefit a potential regulatory issue.

Poor or nonexistent reports are a missed chance for a charity to show how they are making an impact and how its core purpose is being delivered. As the commission say it ‘helps you demonstrate the value and impact of your charity’s work to its supporters, beneficiaries, grant makers and funding bodies’.

Report on public benefit

If your charity is registered, your trustees’ annual report must explain how you have carried out its purpose for the public benefit. A detailed report is only required if your charity’s gross income exceeds £500,000; otherwise a brief summary is all that’s needed.

You must also state whether you and the other trustees had due regard to the commission’s public benefit guidance when exercising any powers or duties to which the guidance is relevant. This means making sure that any personal benefits people receive (having regard both to its nature and to its amount) are no more than a necessary result or by-product of carrying out the purpose.

 

 

Barbed Comments at The National Trust

The National Trust are to ballot members today 20th October 2018, on a motion to ban barbed wire. It took 50+ members out of a total membership of 5.2million to get this motion moving!

In an outbreak of commonsense from the charity the board of trustees state they are not in favour of the ban.  There are concerns it would cost millions of pounds, cause mayhem for tenant farms and create several unintended consequence.

In 2014 a government petition to Ban the Use of Barbed Wire in the Countryside ran for 6 months and attracted 70 signatures. To get a parliamentary debate 10,000 signatures would have been needed.

 


This method of fencing is harmful to animals and humans alike. It’s sole intention is to cause pain or injury in order to contain livestock but unsuspecting wildlife are often harmed on fencing or old rusty discarded wire left lying around. Once injured they will often die slow painful deaths. It is also often used on stiles and can scratch or cut anyone legally using it. It is time it was banned as there are many perfectly reliable alternatives available nowadays.

 

 

Charitable Politics in Pakistan

It is not always easy to accept aid and charity even if you are a large and needy country. Nor is it always clear what strings are attached to the allocation of cash and resources.

In 2017 Reuters reported that Pakistan’s  ‘Ministry of Interior gave 27 NGOs 90 days to conclude operations, …… Among those being expelled are Action Aid, World Vision, Plan International, Trocaire, Pathfinder International, Danish Refugee Council, George Soros’ Open Society Foundations, Oxfam Novib, and Marie Stopes.’ This month 18 of   such charities & NGO’s were given 60 days to wind up operations and leave the country. Sources say this could cost the new prime minister, Imran Khan  and his countries most needy population, upwards of £100m of aid.

Sources in Pakistan say 141 NGOs have been allowed to continue their activities subject to completion of documentation and agreement to an annual audit from the interior ministry.

Donald Trump has cancelled $300m of military aid to Pakistan on the basis it acted as ‘an agent of chaos in Afghanistan’ and has not done enough to prevent terrorism. This situation may only get reviewed if Pakistan help bring the Taliban to negotiations over the future of Afghanistan.