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charitygiving - financial stability and fundraising platforms

By Kevin Russell | 6 August 2013


Readers may have read of the sudden suspension of the charity fundraising website on 12 July 2013, by the Charity Commission.


Dove Trust, the charity behind the website, has been under investigation by The Charity Commission for a while. The Commission had become concerned over poor financial management of their web portal.


Control of the charity was taken over by an Interim Manager, appointed by the Commission who discovered a financial black hole of upwards of £250,000. As a result the good causes, for whom members of the public have raised funds for in good faith, are unlikely to see all of the money that they were entitled to.


Current donors to the site were, in effect, financing settlement of liabilities to others, including the running costs of the charity. Dove Trust, for all intents and purposes, appears to be insolvent and the Charity Commission felt it necessary to suspend the charitygiving website in order to prevent further loss of charitable funds.


In contrast, Stewardship which as a charity, has been around since 1906 is financially very stable. Our last annual accounts declared gross income of over £54 million, net assets of £69 million and cash balances of over £42 million. As Stewardship provides an online fundraising platform in the shape of, we have indicated to the Charity Commission’s Interim Manager that we are ready and willing to make our own systems available in order to help distribute the funds remaining in Dove Trust that were originally intended for the beneficiary charities.


Until the Charity Commission’s Interim Manager completes his work and the full story of charitygiving emerges, it is hard to draw conclusions or learning points from the situation. But, if there is one lesson that can be learned from the Dove Trust case now, it is that online giving websites cost significant sums to establish, maintain and operate. Very low cost, or free services may be here today and gone tomorrow!

Posted by Kevin Russell

Our Legal Eagle guru and Stewardship's Technical Director, Kevin constantly has his finger on the pulse of all things tax and charity law-related. His briefing papers for charities, churches and individuals are an invaluable resource on everything from VAT to Gift Aid. 


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