CharityGiving website suspended - charity regulator acts to protect public donations

CharityGiving: Latest advice

Questions and answers issued 18.07.13

(Immediate release 12 July 2013)

The online giving website www.charitygiving.co.uk has today been suspended.  In order to protect funds the public has raised and prevent further charitable pledges being made via the website whilst the Charity Commission’s investigation continues the decision has been taken to suspend the CharityGiving online portal with immediate effect.  The action was taken by the charity’s interim manager after careful consideration and consultation with the Charity Commission as part of the Commission’s statutory inquiry into The Dove Trust. CharityGiving is an online fundraising portal run by The Dove Trust (registered charity number 287401).

The Commission used its powers under the Charities Act 2011 to appoint Pesh Framjee of Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP as Interim Manager of the charity on 6 June 2013 in order to fulfil specified functions. On 28 June, due to the risk to charitable funds, the Commission acted to restrict the charity’s bank accounts. This morning the Charity Commission has made an order to give the Interim Manager full control of the charity to the exclusion of the charity’s trustees.   

The trustees have not filed any accounts since the year ending 5 April 2009 and the Commission has serious concerns about mismanagement in the administration of the charity by the trustees in relation to the operation of the online donations portal and risk to charity funds. The interim manager’s recent assessment indicates that there is a shortfall between the funds due to the charities donated through CharityGiving, and the cash held by The Dove Trust.

Michelle Russell, Head of Investigations and Enforcement at the Charity Commission, said:

“We have taken this action because of serious concerns about the trustees’ management of the fundraising portal and the charity’s financial situation.  We recognise this will cause concern among the donors and fundraisers who have collected money for the charity through the site and for the charities who are expecting to receive those funds.  However it is now clear that the financial situation of the charity means there was no option but to suspend the online portal.  We know that the public will be concerned to ensure that donations made reach the charities for whom they were intended, and the interim manager will now undertake an urgent, detailed review of the charity’s finances to establish the extent of the shortfall and which charities and donors are affected. 

Our concerns are limited to The Dove Trust and the CharityGiving portal and this should not undermine public confidence in online giving.  We have issued advice to the public about giving safely and will work with the fundraising community to reassure the public.”

The Commission cannot assist individual donors, fundraisers or charities to advise whether or not they are affected, or whether or not their funds will be paid - any such queries must be directed to the interim manager.  Donors and charities who are concerned about funds pledged via CharityGiving should contact:

DoveTrustInterimManager@crowecw.co.uk or phone 0207 842 7313.

Any funds donated on or after 12th July should be automatically directed back to the donor through the banking system, however, donors should check their bank accounts to ensure this has happened and if not, contact the Interim Manager. It is expected that an alternative option will be set up by the Interim Manager shortly so that donors can continue to support charities.  Charities and donors should check regularly the CharityGiving website for updates.

For press enquiries contact the press office.

Ends

PR 31/13

Notes to Editors

1. The Charity Commission is the independent regulator of charities in England and Wales. See www.charitycommission.gov.uk  for further information.

2. Our mission is to be the independent registrar and regulator of charities in England and Wales, acting in the public’s interest, to ensure that:

  • charities know what they have to do
  • the public know what charities do
  • charities are held to account

3. Section 46 of the Charities Act 2011 gives the Charity Commission the power to institute inquiries. The opening of an inquiry gives the Commission access to its most serious remedial and protective powers, including the power to appoint an interim manager under Sections 76 and 78 of the Charities Act.

4. Pesh Framjee of Crowe, Clark, Whitehill LLP was appointed as interim manager of The Dove Trust on 6 June 2013. His role is to perform an immediate analysis of the charity’s current financial position and establish whether there had been any breach of trust. The trustees of the charity have not been removed or suspended, but have no ability or authority to act as trustees while the appointment of the interim manager lasts.

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