Posts Tagged ‘Concerns’

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.

 Concerns

  • 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.

Double Costs for the NHS?

The public sector plays a significant role in the discovery and funding of  new medicines. This applies to diseases that predominantly affect poor countries but also includes Prostate cancer, Arthritis and Multiple Sclerosis drugs. Some of these drugs are then sold by the pharma industry to the NHS at excessively high cost.
Other  medicines developed for exploitation by pharmaceutical companies are often built on work funded or instigated by charities and the tax payer. According to new research published by Global Justice Now Trust 1064066 and the charity Stopaids 1113204.- ‘The commercialisation of these discoveries by pharmaceutical companies has generated huge private profits from public funds.
  • Pharmaceutical companies claim that these high prices are needed to provide a commercial incentive for them to undertake further R&D for new medicines. But when the public purse is funding a large proportion of this R&D, the justification for monopoly pricing is hard to sustain.
  • Pharmaceutical companies consistently spend more on sales and marketing than on R&D for new medicines.
  • Many companies also spend disproportionately more on shareholder dividends.’

Examples from the Report

  • Abiraterone (Prostrate cancer)Discovered and developed by the primarily publicly funded Institute of Cancer Research and later bought by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. The advanced prostate cancer treatment was deemed too expensive for the NHS for years. The NHS now spends £98 per day per patient on the drug, despite a generic alternative being available for less than £11 per day per patient.
  • Infliximab (Arthritis): Initially developed by Universities in the US and UK, with support from charity and industry funding, before being bought by Centocor Biotech. In 2014/15 it represented the fourth highest expenditure on a single medicine in the NHS, at £159 million. The following year the NHS spend on Infliximab rose to £178 million.
  • Alemtuzumab (MS): Developed at Cambridge University and purchased by Sanofi Genzyme, it was approved to treat B-cell Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia (B-CLL). Cambridge scientists discovered it could also be used to treat MS and it was utilised for this non-licenced purpose at a cost of around £2,500 per treatment course in 2012. Sanofi Genzyme withdrew the drug from the market and re-launched later as an MS medicine at a far higher price per dose. It now costs £56,000 per treatment course, a 22-fold price increase.

Full Report  pills-and-profits-report-web.pdf

Concerns

Many questions are raised by this report including : How can the public good be balanced against private gain? Is the current balance equitable, measurable and controllable? Can the NHS  benefit from a better and potentially fairer structure?

The report calls for Effective governance and accountability, the Attachment of public interest conditions to R&D funding and more Transparency including on the ‘net price’ for NHS drugs. A revolution may not be needed but some improvement is surely called for.

Read On…

Web Fundraising a Scammers Paradise

It may be part of human nature for tragedy to stimulate a charity gene that provides an outpouring of cash and emotion. Tragedy is  the backbone of funding to help with international disasters and top up the coffers of DEC. Big charities hopefully ensure their web funding, logistics and ethics are legal, decent and honest. That may not always be so on smaller one off appeals by amateurs often using fundraising platforms, email and social media, (modern day tin collecting.)

In the face of recent concerns the charity regulators are meeting with fundraising platforms to impose new guidelines.

Campaign Updates for Man made Disasters

  • The We Love Manchester Fund managed through the Red Cross has reached over £4 million, thanks to generous donations the majority of which was via web sites. Each of the 22 bereaved families will receive £250,000.
  • Grenfell Tower as a search term on Just Giving has 3 appeals linked to registered charities. But not all are for registered charities, Just Giving, had to take over control of an account spuriously raising cash for  Westminster terror attack victim.
  • The British Red Cross, K&C Foundation and the London Community Foundation have come together to make money available immediately through the London Emergencies Trust, a charity set up following the Westminster Bridge attack this year to support the victims of emergencies. There are reports of false claims by individuals seeking to gain from the tragedy.
  • In Las Vegas, ‘Zappos for Good’ is matching donations made on the CrowdRise donation page, up to $1 million, to help support victims and their families of the recent shooting massacre.
  • The Mirror and other national newspapers report: a page to raise £1.5million to prosecute missing Madeleine McCann’s parents was taken down amid fraud claims; ‘scammers’ had hijacked a web fundraising campaign to send a little girl with leukemia on a dream trip to Disneyland;  Another case saw a dance teacher convicted for inventing a story about a nine-year-old “pupil” who was dying from cancer and asked for donations to pay for a dream trip to Disneyland; Kids’ football coach Darren Head, 39, got a 14-week suspended jail term in 2015 for stealing about £4,500 he raised on Just Giving .

Comment

  • Caveat emptor or buyer beware was a commercial mantra until it was overtaken in the UK with a compensation culture,  miss-selling rules and entitlement beliefs. Some of those who have donated to fraudulent sites are hoping to get the money refunded. Do not hold your breath.
  • Encourage and assist the Charity Commission to keep up their scrutiny and integrity work.
  • Beware Band Waggon Jumpers and make your own assessments of relative need and marginal operators before parting with cash or support in kind.

Charity Lottery ‘and the Winners are for Profit’

Charities across many sectors must think they have won the lottery!  From Oxfam to the Royal Mencap Society, Fire Fighters to Sue Ryder there are a burgeoning number of number of ‘lottery schemes’ to redistribute your wealth. The Gambling Commission records 520 licensed lotteries that range from big bookies to bigger charities.

The  for Profit Sector

Google ads for these schemes rake in money for guess who? You got it, Google! TV ads are becoming more frequent for example back to back ITV 3 adverts for the  Cats Protection lottery and the RNIB must have cost a few months prize money. ‘Your Charity Lottery’  works in conjunction with Dove House Hospice Ltd   509551 – and says it offers other charities and fundraising groups the opportunity to add a weekly draw to their fundraising portfolio’.

Set up and management costs for these schemes must have been calculated to be cheaper than other fund raising activities, or more likely it is just one more money raising method. Private commpaies have latched on to the opportunity for their business eg. ‘ Zaffo can manage lotteries, raffles, prize draws, free prize draws, instant win games’…….. ‘ Woods is already leading the market. We act as an external Lottery manager, providing clients with a comprehensive charity lottery service ……….’  ‘Clubdraw is designed to give good causes large and small – from village playground fund to international club – the chance to gain support and raise valuable funds through their own weekly lottery draw ………’ Other similar organisations are available.

The Gambling Commission

A lottery is a kind of gambling which has three essential ingredients:
■You have to pay to enter the game
■There is always at least one prize
■Prizes are awarded purely on chance

Types of lottery under the Gambling Act 2005 are classified as

Small society lotteries The society in question must be set up for non-commercial purposes eg sports, cultural or charitable. There is a top limit of £20,000 in ticket sales.

Large society lotteries Similar to the small society lottery, but there is a minimum of £20,000 in ticket sales and more onerous controls.

Local authority lotteries to help with any expenditure it normally incurs. They must hold a Gambling Commission licence.

The following types of lottery do not require permission.

  • Private society lotteries must raise money for the purposes for which the society is conducted or to raise funds to support a charity or good cause. No rollovers.
  • Work lotteries for colleagues who work at the same single set of premises/people who live on the same single set of premises. No rollovers. make no profit or be to raise funds for a charity or good cause.
  • Customer lotteries can only be run by a business, at its own premises and for its own customers. No prize can be more than £50 in value. This type of lottery cannot make a profit, and so is unsuitable for fundraising. No rollovers.
  • Incidental lotteries  can be held at commercial events (such as exhibitions) or non-commercial events (such as school fetes) and must be for charitable or other good causes. They cannot be run for private or commercial gain.

Concerns

  • Is enough of the donor/player cash returned to the good or charitable cause.
  • Both the Gambling and Charity commissions have supervision roles and need to be coordinated to prevent abuse.
  • Gambling is a potential problem for those less able to manage their finances. Our local Credit Union (set up to to help borrowers) is happy to promote its regular lottery and annual raffle.

Good and Bad Alzheimer’s

There are 69 registered charities that come up on a search for dementia or Alzheimer’s. This post contrasts the largest from the charity commission list and a registered charity that didn’t even feature in the 69 from the search.

Alzheimer’s Society Benchmark Facts & Figures

  • Annual income to March 2016 £100 million
  • 2,550 staff 10,000 volunteers –
  • Income has grown 40% in 5 years
  • Over 80% of income is spent on charitable activities
  • Cost of fundraising is 16% Income is derived more or less equally from Donations 37% and  Contracts 36% with Legacies 23% an important contributor.
    Investment income, trading and other is 4%

Alzheimer’s Society  spends £6.5m on research grants but delivers the majority of service via staff including ;-

  • Day and home care, Dementia support and advisers, Support groups, Befriending and Advocacy. An admirable range of service and support.
1133624 – Age Sentinel Trust
I was hooked in at the weekend by a face to face collector in our local garden center. The ‘shaken tin’ had a blue Alzheimers like logo but the collector showed me his Age Sentinel badge and said they collected face to face whilst the Alzheimer’s Society no longer did.  I moderated my contribution resolving to follow up.

I am not the first: Charitable Sentiments blog has interesting information on small charities and Age Sentinel who collect in retailers including Marks & Spencer and Tesco’s. It looks like I paid a Gumtree recruit rather than giving to anAlzheimer’s cause .

Age Sentinel annual income over the last 5 reports and accounts varies between £43k-£52k. Only 50% is spent on charitable work by making grants, providing information and logistical support,  special communication devices or home adaptations to individuals and number of voluntary organisations without any detail.

Concerns and Problems

Small ill disciplined charities damage donor goodwill:

  • Lack of clarity about the beneficiaries leaves donors cynical.
  • 33% costs apparently paid as commission.
  • Use of the illness brand  ‘Alzheimer’s’  in face to face unlicensed collection on private retail premises.
  • Age Sentinel shares a trustee and locations with 1141908 – Child Sentinel Trust. Their income and expenditure is also obscure and social media presence non-existent.

 

Old Charity for Old Folk

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

Intellectual National Trust Property

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

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

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

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

Concerns

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

Blood and Bone Marrow Cancer Charities

Cancers and diseases of the blood particularly in children generate a high level of fear and emotive concern.  Putting the ‘Child’ in the title of a charity may help with fundraising but is also a focus for remembering the pain and anguish that can be caused by cancer and blood problems.

Looking at a sample of the charities currently operating in this area they can be placed in three categories. Those supporting sufferers and their families with support information and advice. The funding charities who support clinical and related research and thirdly the local ‘light touch’ charities who have been motivated to extraordinary efforts by personal circumstance.

Our motivation for focusing on these charities is to highlight some of the good work but also the concerns for continued or increasing effectiveness.

Blood Relative Charities

216032 Bloodwise  was formerly called Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research until 2015. The rebranding and name change has led to some confusion and cynicism. Early problems with web site changes damaged confidence as does spending 31% of income  on fund raising. Given the high proportion of Legacy income this cost of fund raising seems excessive. Bloodwise partner with  the Calendar Girls, musical,  film and calendar raising £4m.
One of  over 50 registered Leukaemia charities Bloodwise  has  spent £500m over the last 56 years to fund world-class research into what they say are 137 different types of blood cancer.

1107328 – CLIC Sargent was created from a successful merger between ‘Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood’ (CLIC) and Sargent Cancer Care for Children named in memory of the conductor Sir Malcolm Sargent. For children with cancer teams can provide nursing and specialist support to help families limit the damage cancer causes beyond their health.

1156384 -Child & Teenage Cancer & Leukaemia Foundation registered in 2014 had a small income £12,648 in 2015 and no current accounts. Information is scant despite a positive web site. They, like many small charities hit the radar via fund raising activities.

1118733 – The Maria Watt Birmingham Foundation for Childhood and Teenage Leukaemia.  Formed after the death from leukemia of 17 year old Maria. Over £400k has been raised and  The Maria Watt Foundation was instrumental in setting up the Be Child Cancer Aware campaign see below.

1141987 Be Child Cancer Aware has provided millions of ‘child cancer awareness cards’  to thousands of UK schools. BCCA is primarily concerned with helping the early-identification of cancers by disseminating the signs and symptoms of childhood cancers as widely as possible. Income includes charity bag collections.

For more on Hepatitis and Haemophilia read Bloody Issues

Who Controls Bone Marrow

803716 -Anthony Nolan generates annual income of £47m of which £34m is from donor provision. They help maintain a register of volunteer adult bone marrow donors who are prepared to donate their bone marrow to unrelated patients in need of  transplants.

They searche worldwide on behalf of UK patients for suitable donors prepared to donate stem cells. Additionally Anthony Nolan undertake pioneering research to improve the outcome of stem cell transplants.

1153917 – The Rik Basra Leukaemia Campaign a low income charity punching above its weight by running  stem cell registration events to add donors to the UK stem cell register.

1150056 DKMS Bone  Marrow Donor Center Branded as ‘DELETE BLOOD CANCER UK’, DKMS launched in February 2013 and already generates £3.6m revenue mainly from donor typing services and service provision. Their key mission is to recruit, retain and motivate potential stem cell donors to be on standby to save blood cancer patients’ lives. They are part of DKMS a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization based in the United States and Deutsche Knochenmarkspenderdatei  GmbH –

Concerns

  • There is  international commercial activity to register and match potential stem cell and bone marrow donors. It is more the role of Government than the charity commission to control and monitor these activities.
  • Why are there so many smaller charities dedicated to childhood forms of cancer. It must be possible to establish a method to optimise personal commitment and involvement to maximising the benefits from legacy or donation income.
  • Changing names, rebranding, launching social media and new web activity needs clear plans, trustee backing and sound capable management.
  • Charities need a ‘narrative’ or cohesive brand story to maximise impact and awareness. From small beginnings great charities can grow: the Eastwood family started Leukemia Research Fund, CLIC started by Bob Woodward, Anthony Nolan family and Sir Malcolm Sargent memorial all have made strong contributions. We should encourage and help new visions.

Bloody Issues

The blame game over contaminated blood supplies from USA in the 1980’s trundles on. Thousands of UK citizens developed Hepatitis C and HIV after being given infected blood and blood products. New pressure for a third inquiry was highlighted in a recent BBC Panorama programme and by Andy Burnham.

Charity Sector and Other Involvement

288260 -The Haemophilia  Society

Haemophiliacs and all people affected by bleeding disorders are represented, offered support and information by the charity .’  It has a limited income of  £645k per annum with smaller incomes at charities in Wales, Scotland  and the Irish Haemophilia Societies.

The Skipton Fund

This organisation is akin to a  Quango set up as a company ‘to implement and manage the UK-wide ex gratia payments scheme for people infected with the hepatitis C virus (“HCV”) from treatment with NHS blood, blood products or tissue. The Company acts as agent for the Department of Health and the Devolved Administrations.’ Its annual income and expenditure is a significant £12m.

298863 The Macfarlane Trust (MFT)

MFT was set up in 1988 by the British Government to support people with haemophilia who were infected with HIV as a result of contaminated NHS blood products, their spouses, parents and dependents.
MFT currently receives approximately £2.2 million each year from the Department of Health spent on discretionary regular payments to those who were infected and to bereaved relatives. They also make small grants to refer beneficiaries for specialist benefits and money management/debt advice.

1142529 The Caxton Foundation

The Caxton foundation is a discretionary grant making trust with annual income of £2m.  It was set up and wholly funded by the Department of Health to provide financial assistance and other benefits to meet any charitable need of individuals who have been infected with hcv through contaminated blood products who have received stage 1 payment from the Skipton fund and their partners, parents, children and dependants.’

1104279 -The Hepatitis C Trust

With annual income of £946k the trust aims for the elimination of Hepatitis C by 2030 preventing new infections,  diagnosing the infected and curing more victims. The trust provides information, support and representation for people affected by Hepatitis C and aims to lower the stigma of this disease.

1028027 Eileen Trust

With annual income of less than £100k per year the Eileen trust is a discretionary grant making trust that was set up and is funded by the department of health to alleviate the financial need of those non-haemophiliac individuals infected with HIV through treatment with NHS blood or blood products.

Birchgrove Group

Birchgrove is a support group and platform for views for people  who were infected with HIV/AIDS and hepatitis C through blood products in Great Britain.

Victims of infection find it extremely difficult and  frustrating and Birchgrove provides  a platform to inform politicians, parliament and the public of the myriad of problems faced on an everyday basis.

The Forgotten Few

Is a support group that ‘exists to give Co Infected Haemophiliacs “who were dual infected with HIV and Hepatitis C”  representation to Parliament and other public bodies. Since the 1980s the co infected community have been ignored and many silenced due to the huge stigma associated with HIV.

Concerns

Delays, prevarications and procrastination for over 30 years does no one any credit and leads to suffering, dilution of resources and lack of focus.

The Department of Health obviously feel significant responsibility as evidenced by the funding of several groups and charities. Why hasn’t a full cohesive solution been implemented.

The charities, pressure groups and organisations involved appear to duplicate some efforts and have failed to achieve an equitable solution.

The Art of Auction Acquisition

A. Alfred Taubman 1924- 2015 His Legacy?

Is it a done deal? It sure looks that way and there seems to be plenty of funds available so why not. Still there is a slightly bad taste to a deal to the Save the King appeal at York Civic Trust. The object of York’s desire is a 17th century wooden carving celebrating psalm 150 with King David playing a harp and Saint Cecilia playing an organ. It is said to have been created by  Grinling Gibbons whilst he was working in York.

It sold recently by Sotheby’s New York,  for $ 162,500 including buyers premium after a pre-sale estimate of $250,000 — $350,000. A small part of a $500m auction of Al Taubmans’s art collection.

Lets have a Fund Raiser

York’s appeal is for £300,000 of which £242,500 is already assured from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and Arts Council / V&A Purchase Grant. The public appeal launched in April 2017 is for a final £60,000 ‘to save this panel and secure the purchase….’

Strange then that it is likely to ‘become the focal point of the exhibition Made in York: Inventing and Enlightening the Georgian City’ from 5 May 2017 (almost before the money is donated.)

Strange also that the art work was part of the estate of the Sotheby’s former chairman Anthony A Taubman. As the former chairman of Sotheby’s, he served time in federal prison in 2003 over his role in a price-fixing scandal with Christie’s.

The third strange aspect is an assumption that the art work will be owned by the  York Civic Trust 229336. In January 2016 this charity had over £3.6m available stock market investments. The management fees paid by the Civic Trust are £20k per year! The York Conservation Trust 504302 act as heritage property asset owning landlords to various sites in York.

Concerns

If the resources are already ‘in the bank’ why be disingenuous raising more money. If the intention is top up resources then why not say so. Poor behaviour risks damaging appeals for other charities and causes.

How open are the surrounding transactions and is money being wasted when it costs more than twice the hammer price compared to buying at auction.

It is not Charity Chit Chat’s role to question the who’s and whys of a deal that fits within the scope of the charitable purpose. However in the long term pushing the boundaries to the limit does no favours to the charity industry.

 

Charity’s Lifeboat Sold on eBay by Thief

In March 2017 the ex-treasurer of Cleethorpes Rescue Service was jailed for 2 years .  From 2007 to 2012 Roxanna Bridgland was the treasurer of this local charity after reportedly engineering the departure of the previous treasurer and chairman.

  • She has been found guilty of systematically stealing and defrauding the charity.
  • The lifeboat was sold on ebay.
  • Radios, safety equipment and other items were traded during  visits to Cash Converters.
  • The ex-treasurer also defrauded the taxpayer of £6,000 by making false claims for gift aid.
  • Admitted five offences of fraud, three of false accounting but plead not guilty of stealing cash.

The thefts caused such a “lack of trust in the community” that donations  dried up and subsequent rescue attempts failed. What could have happened if the lifeboat had been needed?

Charity Commission

  • When questioned by the Charity Commission investigators Roxanna Bridgland denied  responsibility claiming to be helping  as public and business donations to the charity declined.
  • 1085020 – C.O.A.S.T CLEETHORPES OBSERVATION AND SAFETY TEAM has now been removed from the register of charities.
  • Previous and alternative names include~:
    Cleethorpes rescue and lifeboat service (old name)
    Cleethorpes vigilante inshore lifeboat (old name)
    Cleethorpes rescue service (working name)
  • The charity has not submitted any accounts since  March 2011.

Concerns

When a lifeboat goes missing,( via eBay ), many folk must have known. A charity needs local support and involvement in more than funding.

The ‘warning’ this case could give others has been diluted by the slow justice.

As the Judge said ‘this has all been a result of your greed’.  Vigilance and applied commonsense needs to be maintained.

Fair Trade Industry – Should It Focus on ‘Not Unfair Trade’?

Globalisation and commercialisation has increased the rate of change across many agricultural and industrial sectors. Organisations and charities are trying to move with the times but need to retain their vision and focus on the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO) principles of fair trade and the relevant charitable objectives.They do not need to become more aggressively  business like or political but world wide ‘fair trade’  has become an industry in its own life time with a raft of international assessors, promoters, branders and do betterers.

Leveraging exceptional value under WFTO principles of fair trade.

The  UK based charity  1043886 – THE FAIRTRADE FOUNDATION   has extremely wide objectives ‘To relieve poverty suffering and distress in any part of the world and to promote research into and education concerning the causes and effects of poverty.’ These aims are open ended such that the 100 or so Fairtrade Foundation employees have a business model for generating most of the funds required by using the ‘brand’ through activities based on licensing. This is the tip of the iceberg with a billion euro income for producers and probably more than double that for retailers and manufacturers.

More specifically Fairtrade Foundation (as part of wider fair trade) is :-

  • ‘Providing an independent certification of the trade supply chain with their fairtrade mark as the consumer guarantee.
  •  Facilitating the market so that producers can sell to traders and retailers in order that the market for fairtrade grows.
  • Raising awareness among consumers of the need for fairtrade and the importance of the fairtrade mark.’
  • For a charity, licensing is a very commercial business like activity but it would be churlish to question the charitable motives which are designed to help small farmers and businesses.

Since before 2010 the charity has had steady income of around ten million pounds a year from licenses bought by retailers and producers using the Fairtrade  supply chain, verification methods, reputation,  and logo. It is a complex and multi-faceted business where the license income has stalled but the volume of underlying ‘fair trade products sold seems to increase’. Somewhere the money trail seems to under perform against the ideals.

Global Fair Trade  is Fragmented to Divide and Rule

WFTO is the worldwide network of Fair Trade organizations and includes WFTO Europe which receives some funding from the EU and our own Fairtrade Foundation. The goals are to enable producers to improve their livelihoods and communities through Fair Trade. (see detailed principals below)

WFTO’s  fair trade certification scheme and mark is verified by self-assessment, mutual reviews and external verification.

There has been growth and unnecessary competition amongst fair trade certifiers, and ‘products’ in the market including Fairtrade International , IMO, Rainforest Alliance, Make Trade Fair, Eco-Social and Fair Trade USA .

Major corporate manufacturers and retailers like Starbucks are considering withdrawing from full certification. Suchards and Cadburys have chosen to establish their own sustainability programme ‘Cocoa Life’ but have a ‘side deal’ with Fairtrade that allows a continued use of a logo.

More Concerns  and Issues with Fair Trade

In recent years a greater awareness of issues highlighted by the advocates of fair trade  have been a major plus. However the commercial and business world is progressively modifying the concepts, ideals and attainments to suit their own ends. Fair trade its self has become a commercial competition, power base and business. Perhaps the time is coming to refocus onto Not Unfair Trade!

  • Where fair trade under performs it should return to focusing on helping the producer and their community.
  • Less scrupulous retailers, importers, middlemen and consolidators who abuse ‘Fair Trade’ exclusively for their own ends need to be ‘outed’. This is ‘Unfair Trade’.
  • Where potential benefits fail to filter down due to political interference fair trade needs to work in partnership with NGO’s and poverty focused charities.
  • Coffee production is up to 50% of fair trade schemes yet is hostage to the commodities  market and true fair trade is impractical.
  • Producers complain about costs of compliance, oversupply of certification, rigid rules and failure to enforce the standards and discrimination by large producers  .
  • Many people volunteer to support fair trade doing unpaid work for  Fairtrade in schools, towns, communities and with local governments or parliament. They may be misled if the benefit are going to businesses in rich countries or political influence in the producer countries.

WFTO Principles of Fair Trade

Read On…

Nesta a Business or Charity

The National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts NESTA was a public body designed to promote creativity, talent and innovation across a wide spectrum of areas and interests. In 1998 it received an endowment from the national lottery and has benefited from various government support.  An investigation and report in 2010 concluded ‘that, while NESTA provided a valuable role, it did not need to be a public body and that its activities were better suited to the voluntary sector’. This led to NESTA becoming an independent charity in 2012 when it changed its name to Nesta with gifted assets of £343m.

In summary the main object and purpose of the charity is  to advance education, and in particular the study of innovation by the promotion of research and the publication of the useful results. By working to improve the conditions in which great ideas can flourish – addressing the policy and structural conditions that can either energise or stifle creativity.

Key Items from 2016 Report & Accounts

  • Assets and funds carried forward from March 2016 were £384m with less than 7% held in ‘mixed motive early stage companies.
  • A significant proportion of investments are in overseas quoted companies and showed a loss in the year. ‘In 2016 global equities generated a loss of £10.2 million, compared to a gain in 2015 of £25.1m.’
  • Income from investments and endowment fund was £1,956,000 but investment management costs of £1,257,000 wiped most of this out.
  • Staff levels have increased by 75% in four years to 167 full time equivalents with 27 of those earning over £60,000 pa.
  • The Nesta trust which holds the endowment fund has a Protector appointed by Government to oversee the administration of the Trust – with a principal trustee being Nesta. Additionally Nesta has 9 committees and 10 trustees running a complex operation.
  • Grants of £2,126,000 were made to 120 organisations during 2015/16 including charities and public bodies  compared to £12,288,000 in the prior year.

Concerns and Issues

Nesta is well recognised in the business fraternity and shares some wider business ethics and aspirations to good effect. It is less known as a charity.

The endowment has been protected in scale if not in real terms but is it time to set a date for the ultimate use and expiry of the trust fund.

In the same way that NESTA did not need to continue as a public body should all or part of Nesta become a commercial and financial business.

The reduction in the value of grant awards seems logical and could go further to avoid none productive costs being incurred both by Nesta and the recipients.

Is the existence within Nesta too comfortable and in danger of drifting from the core purpose and intent. How do this and similar charities retain focus.

Costs of holding investment reserves, growth of staff levels and control of outsourced charitable work need to be kept under review.

The 2017 reports and accounts are awaited with interest. Detail of the numerous schemes, ventures and investments may then be worth further comment

Dissing The National Trust

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

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

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

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

Concerns about the National Trust

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

Marine Conservation

The Marine Conservation Society is not one of the Goliaths of the membership driven group of charities that includes RSPB, National Trust, English Heritage, National Trust for Scotland or Royal Horticultural Society. Never the less it is a membership organisation that punches above its weight as it seeks to secure healthy and plentiful seas.

1004005 – Marine Conservation Society Aims

  • Reduce beach litter and dumping at sea,
  • Encouraging wider sale and purchase of sustainable seafood
  • Creating areas of protection in our seas, just as there are on land.
  • Working with schools, industry, politicians and the public to ensure the seas are not out of sight and out of mind.

Courting Controversy

After the successful agitation  for a charge on plastic bags attention has been refocused on other marine pollutants. A ‘micro bead ban’ is a key initiative to save fish from eating plastic soup. Not only face scrubs and toothpaste but some washing powder and floor cleaners contain nano-beads that enter the food chain. Wet wipes are another gripe for a future initiative.

The charity made a recent statement that  ‘scientific advice means three haddock fisheries in the North Sea and West of Scotland are no longer on their green ‘Fish to Eat’ list.’ Media interpreted this as an attempted ban on haddock when it was intended to ‘encourage people to make informed buying decisions, and to try and choose seafood from the fisheries and farming methods that have the least impact on our seas’.

Getting a petition up about Balloons that can entangle and choke wildlife to death. Volunteer beach litter pickers and cleaners saw a rise of over 50% in the amount of balloon litter on UK beaches. This was dwarfed by over a quarter of a million pieces of mixed beach litter collected in one weekend by 6000 volunteers.

Concerns

  • Balancing involvement with business and industry is a delicate task. The sustainable seafood coalition names some of the major players in the industry.
  • Considering income and expenditure is less than £3m per annum a great deal is being achieved. More money and growth is not a surefire way to success.
  • The marine environment  still appears to be a low priority for the UK government. Better policy, management and control is needed.

There is a clever statement in the quarterly magazine asking members of mcsuk if they have a potentially useful connection with a ‘Trust, Foundation or Livery Company that may be able to support some aspects’ of the marine conservation work. This is sensible leverage to help with a gigantic task and widen involvement.

 

Give to Charity if you Break the Law

The UK government facilitates  many benefits for charities and their supporters.   Tax breaks, constructive regulation and financial support immediately spring to mind. Corporate payments to charity for law breaking is a benefit I haven’t come across before. When a company breaks the law, in this case the UK Packaging Waste Regulations, they can avoid prosecution and fines by making a payment to a suitable  charity.

The Environment Agency is responsible for enforcing the packaging regulations that are designed to reduce and control excess packaging, cut landfill and ensure recovery and recycling of packaging waste. Last year 2016 more than 25 large companies breached the regulations and paid out over three quarters of a million pounds for the privileged.

If you fail to meet your legal obligations, or provide false or misleading information, you may face prosecution under criminal law. In England and Wales there are also civil penalties. These include:

  • fixed penalty fines for minor offences
  • higher fines for more serious offences
  • an enforcement undertaking: an offer, formally accepted by your environmental regulator that redresses the impact of your non-compliance

Example Penalties Paid to Charity

The primary purpose of the enforcement undertaking is to allow the offender to restore and remediate any environmental damage they have caused. Arrangements accepted in lieu of further legal action by the Environment Agency in the period 1 August 2016 to 27 January 2017 include:-

  • Kerry Ingredients (UK) Limited made a financial contribution of £127,975 shared between Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust (£40,451), Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (£19,766), Severn Rivers Trust (£52,758) and Bristol Zoological Society (£15,000)
  • Olive oil company Filippo Berio UK Limited were caught on three counts and paid out a  contribution of £253,906.91 to Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust
  • Heineken UK Limited didn’t refresh the parts other beers failed to reach so paid a financial contribution of £160,000 shared between the Wye and Usk Foundation (£150,000) and ‘Bugs & Beasties’ (£10,000).
  • Anglia and Northumberland Water paid a combined £490,000 in environmental restitution to charities.
  • NEC exhibition center were stung for a contribution of £14,858.98 to the Canal & River Trust

Concerns

  • Who selects  the charities and how is the influence controlled
  • What other crimes could start a new cluster of restitution charities.

Is The Famine Crisis Appealing?

No humanitarian crisis is appealing and that is particularly true of the images on display in support of current crisis appeals for Yemen and East Africa.

Whilst it may be justifiable  and even essential to stimulate donors, the fund raising band wagon and the way it appears to be structured is not appealing to a large number of people.

Leaving aside current DEC appeals for a moment consider the Scottish registered Mercy Corp who took national newspaper advertising focused on ‘1.4 million children are at imminent risk of death – please give £45 for Life Saving Aid’.   Famine areas in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen and Somalia were highlighted in the advert. In small print a footnote stated that ‘funds would be used where the need is greatest’. Given that Mercy Corp worked on projects in an admirable 40 counties last year, committing the majority of their £60m income, it doesn’t appear to be a focused appeal more riding the wave of emotion.

In the same paper (Daily Telegraph 17/3/17) there was a Unicef UK advert focused on the ‘East Africa Famine 5.5 million children in danger’ emphasising £35 could provide six weeks of emergency food.(Will it the cynic asks) Unicef receives no funding from DEC or the UN budget but regularly works in over 100 countries on humanitarian projects. As with Mercy Corp our in-house cynic could think some charities were using the current ‘focus on famine’ to top up there financial resources.

Returning to DEC, who took and I assume paid for a full page spread in the same paper, they are getting better at coordinating the disaster emergency efforts with at least 13 top line charities. DEC’s political contacts and clout may also have helped negotiate a pound for pound match funding from UK Aid up to £5million on top of gift aid. Action Aid is a DEC member who chose to send an appeal in a bespoke envelope. I can only assume all the Action Aid supporters donations will go straight into the DEC coordinated central financial reserve for rapid deployment and subsequent reporting back.

Concerns

  • Primary concern is for those who are or may shortly be suffering life threatening famine, drought and consequent health problems.
  • How directly, immediately and focused will the aid be spent
  • Is the appeal blitz going to  inure donors to the victims plight and make non-contributing cynics of the the kind hearted.
  • Are the costs proportionate and related to the benefits.
  • Is the process fit for purpose and improving the outcomes where and when need.
  • The aid industry does not need any high profile probity or management problem with the consquent public relations.