The Captain Tom Foundation, a charity registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales has been in the headlines following the publication of the accounts for its first year of operation. They showed that despite receiving an income of £1.1m in this period, the charity only gave out grants totalling £160,000 to four charities but spent £209,433 on support costs, including £162,336 on management costs. A payment of £54,039 was made into two companies owned by Captain Sir Tom’s daughter Hannah Ingram-Moore and her husband. The Charity Commission announced that it has opened a compliance investigation into the charity, stating that: “We have been in ongoing contact with the trustees of the Captain Tom Foundation on its set-up and governance arrangements and as part of this work will now assess the charity’s recently submitted accounts.” Stephen Jones, the chair of the charity has welcomed the news and said they look forward to working with the Charity Commission.
Captain Sir Tom became a national hero during the first lockdown in 2020 after walking 100 laps of his Bedfordshire garden to raise funds for the NHS at the age of 99. He managed to raise a staggering £33m, which was managed and distributed by NHS Charities Together. The Captain Tom Foundation was set up by his family to build on this spirit of goodwill. He died last year after contracting covid.
Why have the accounts raised concerns?
Mrs Ingram-Moore and her husband run Maytrix, a strategy company which received £37,942 from the charity. The accounts show that £27,205 of this was for “third-party consultancy costs”. The accounts report that: “These costs were initially funded by Maytrix Group Limited on behalf of the charitable company, and reimbursed when sufficient funds were available.”
A payment of £16,097 was also made to Club Nook Ltd run by Mrs Ingram-Moore “in respect of accommodation, security and transport relating to Captain Sir Tom Moore travelling around the UK to promote the charitable company”, as well as Mrs Ingram-Moore’s own travel expenses.
The four charities concerned received the sum of £40,000 each.
Are there any other concerns?
Mrs Ingram-Moore was initially appointed as a trustee of the charity on February 1, 2021, but resigned on March 15 2021. Concern was also raised over the proposed appointment of Mrs Ingram-Moore as CEO on a top end salary. Her husband continues to be a trustee of the charity.
The charity has been working closely with the Charity Commission regarding its ongoing governance arrangements since March 2021.
The Fundraising Regulator had raised some “issues of concern” that haven’t been disclosed, but these were resolved.
The Information Commissioner’s Office also investigated two complaints about a breach in data protection regulations, but these were also resolved after giving advice and no further action taken.
Further press coverage has also reported on the fact that Mr Ingram-Moore is the director of another company, Stone Pit Restoration, for which the latest files accounts for the year ending September 2020 show accumulated losses of £5.3 million. The audit report in the accounts shows that there is material uncertainty causing doubt about whether or not it can continue as a going concern. There is also a going concern warning in the latest of accounts of Stonepit Ltd, another company in which Mr Ingram-Moore is a director, which had invested in Stone Pit Restoration. Although neither company has a connection with the charity, it has led to widespread press coverage pressing for Mr Ingram-Moore to resign as a trustee of the charity on grounds of so called “suitability”.
While the outcome of this investigation is not yet known, it demonstrates how quickly public confidence and trust in such a high profile charity can change and be potentially damaged by adverse press and social media coverage. The charity’s proposals to start a national fundraising day in June called “Captain Tom Day” to empower and give a voice to older people has been put on hold for the time being, with proposed charity partners awaiting the outcome of the report. This uncertainty will no doubt also be felt in its immediate fundraising efforts.
It should be emphasised at this stage that The Charity Commission investigation does not mean that there is any actual finding of wrongdoing. And we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the initial start-up costs for any new charity will inevitably be higher in the first year as the charity puts its necessary governance structure, and its various operational procedures and policies in place and gets properly up and running. We’ll report on the outcome of this investigation in full once the Charity Commission’s findings are published.
In the meantime however, it is a reminder to all charity trustees of the importance of:
Understanding the nature of the statutory duties and responsibilities they have as charity trustees, who must ensure that all decisions are made in the best interests of the charity;
The importance of having a robust governance structure with a clear reporting framework in place, giving the trustees full oversight of all the charity’s activities and following the principles of best practice. Being able to demonstrate that your charity is well run is one of the most effective ways of protecting your charity’s reputation as well as promoting public trust in the charity sector;
The need to identify and properly manage actual and potential conflicts of interest. This means having and applying a robust policy dealing with conflicts of interest as well as a conflict of interests register. All trustees have a statutory duty to put the needs of the charity first before any personal interests that they may have;
The need for greater transparency and information in relation to fundraising activities and how the funds will be applied; and
The importance of impact reporting in the accounts, breaking down how the charity’s funds are spent to provide greater public accountability. It also highlights the importance of taking the time to prepare a detailed trustees annual report in the accounts. This allows the trustees to explain to the public in their own words, what the charity aims to do and its accomplishments over the last year, as well as its plans for the future.
If you need advice regarding the running of a charity that you’re involved with, our team of charity law specialists will be happy to help.
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