Bhopal a Basket Case

Bhopal a Man Made Disaster

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

Bhopal Gas Tragedy

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

Issues And Concerns

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

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

Update 4.8.19

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

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

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.

Food Banks Are ‘Not Just for Christmas’

A Food Banks Need for Donations

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

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

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

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

Concerns

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

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

Rag or Raise And Give

Raise And Give a student organised, charitable fund raising event generally of one weeks duration. They required lots more in time, planning and organising the collection of events that make up the whole. Not least of these was the publication of a Rag Mag full of politically incorrect jokes cartoons and paid for advertising.

A ‘Rag mag’ is a small booklet like those above, traditionally  sold to the local community during Rag Week.

Students saw RAG as their way of making a difference. For 2/- in 1966  the Bradford Rag mag supported half a dozen charitable organisation including the  Physically Handicapped – Able Bodied (PHAB) club, The |Guild of Help, Bradford Red Cross, The Lord Mayor’s Appeal, Police Widows and Orphans Fund and the Court Mission. The need and organisations are still largely in existence 50 odd years later.

 

Times have moved on and my latest copy of a rag mag was a private enterprise trading on nostalgia for the old style. There was no sign of any charitable support except perhaps for the printers and publishers. The street vendor no doubt took a cut of the (cheap) cover price in the mode of the Big Issue.

 

An exmple of the 50 year old humour.’ What is long and red and comes at you from all directions? – stereophonic rhubarb.

If you don’t know what 2/-, stereophonic or even rhubarb is, ask a pensioner. Hint 24d or what you can afford.

Big Issue not a Big Issue

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

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

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

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

Charitable Donations on Death

The fatal plane crash that killed the Compass tycoon Richard Cousins highlights a need for sensible provisions in last will and testaments. Oxfam are set to benefit from a ‘common tragedy clause’ in Mr Cousins will that left the residue of the estate, worth £41m, in the unlikely event that he and his two sons were killed in the same event.

A more standard clause, one I use, nominates a charity to receive the residue of an estate if no living relatives or dependent claimants can be found.

An out right bequest of a fixed or sometimes variable sum is more common.  Oxfam alone received £20m in gifts through wills last year and after recent PR disasters will be grateful for all contributions.

HM Revenue and Customs allow ‘people who inherited a deceased’s household and personal goods but wish to donate some or all of them to a UK charity to deduct a charity exemption against the value of the estate.

Any property forming part of the deceased’s estate which passes on death to charity is exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT). Gifts to certain national bodies, such as museums and art galleries or political parties also qualify for a similar exemption.

A deed of variation is a document designed to redirect inheritance in someone’s will and can be used to benefit charities and may reduce IHT.

Large estates and national treasures have been accepted by HMRC in payment or part payment of IHT.

Big Ugly Animals at RSPCA

Hot on the trail of the ugly side of the RSPCA the charity commission followed up earlier fines with an ‘official warning’ with the implicit threat of taking over The RSPCA unless there are significant improvements.

This action arises after trustees sanctioned a £150,000 golden handshake for the acting head / chief executive Michael Ward. The payment seems to have been negotiated under the threat of a claim of ‘unfair treatment’ in the process of filling the role permanently. (on that basis would you want this person as a chief executive anyway?) The commission found that ‘the trustees failed to make adequate enquiries and ensure the decision was made properly ‘particularly given the large sums involved’.

Big Ugly Animals

Many large charities seem to believe they are ‘kings of the jungle’ and trample on the feelings of members, supporters and the public.

Corporate reputation or managerial incompetence is too often defended or ignored for insubstantial reasons and vanity.

Accountability and responsibility and obfuscated by actions that do no credit to the organisation.

RSPCA is just one victim of this malaise in the charity industry but they seem to keep on causing consternation. They claim to be well advanced with reforms following a governance review but can a leopard change his spots.

Comment

Big business may take similar actions by making gross payments for failure and/or success of executives. That doesn’t make it right for a charity using donors money.

Politicians are sometimes said to be economical with the truth, extravagant with expense declarations and ‘expert’ at the bad cover up. That doesn’t make it right for a charity and damages public confidence.

Three Imprisoned Monks before Charity Commission Act

Update Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA)

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

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

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

 

From Charity Chit Chat 6th April 2018 Post

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

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

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

Concerns

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

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

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

World Cancer Research opacity

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

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

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

Americanised Fund Raising

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

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

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

Accountant Who Stash it Away

CHARTERED ACCOUNTANTS’ BENEVOLENT ASSOCIATION (CABA) no 1116973

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.

Comment

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.

Concerns

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.

 

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.

Comment

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.

Comment

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

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.