December 2017
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Oh, sweet charity

Not every blog on this site can deal with big, important world events. But sometimes, looking at a seemingly small issue can expose much larger areas of concern.

Britain has 195,289 charities. In my humble opinion, that’s at least 150,000 too many.

In the Sunday Times yesterday, there was a worrying article “Legal highs set to kill more than heroin“. In this article a charity called The Angelus Foundation was featured. According to the Charity Commission website: ‘The Angelus Foundation aims to raise awareness of and educate young people and their parents on the dangers of legal highs and club drugs in order to keep them and their peers safe“. The Angelus Foundation was set up by Maryon Stewart after the death on 2009 of her daughter, a medical student, from a legal high.

Being a bit of a twat, I decided to look at the financial accounts of the Angelus Foundation. I’m not an accountant, but if I understood the accounts correctly, here’s what I found;

In 2013, the foundation had income of £296,975. It spent a (for me worrying) £155,020 – 52% of money raised – generating this income. However, that still left £140,974 – 47% of its income – to be used for ‘charitable activities’. Then there was a very modest £1,860 used for ‘governance costs‘.

But let’s look at what was included in the £140,974 of ‘charitable activities’.

Well, there were ‘consultancy fees’ of an impressive £49,800 – 35% of the money spent on ‘charitable activities’. But what was this consultancy? As far as I can make out, this was money paid to none other than Maryon Stewart. I quote from the accounts ‘The directors have agreed that Maryon Stewart be remunerated for her services to the charity. Services were provided during the period under the terms of a Consultancy Agreement. Under this agreement Maryon Stewart received £49,800 for the period”. Maryon Stewart also, if I understood correctly, got £47,186 for consultancy in 2012.

Now, I believe Maryon Stewart is a highly prolific writer and broadcaster on health issues. So probably the £49,800 for consultancy in 2013 (and £47,186 in 2012) was well spent. But there might be some people who would be concerned about a charity giving 35% of its ‘charitable activities’ expenditure to its founder.

Another expense for ‘charitable activities’ was £7,172 for ‘travel’. Most of this seems to me to have gone to Maryon Stewart, “expenses reimbursed to Maryon Stewart during the period amounted to £6,381 and largely comprised of travel and subsistence costs”. Though these seem to have come down from the £13,101 paid out in 2012.

Also under ‘charitable activities’ was ‘admin support’ – “Maryon Stewart also provides an administrative assistant to the Foundation who is employed by her company (The Really Useful Health Company)”. The charge for administrative assistance in the period was £25,155″. In 2012, this was £23,183. Some people might not think that administration was a ‘charitable activity’. But then, what do they know?  (click to see chart more clearly)

Angelus foundation

Also under ‘charitable activities was £6,000 for ‘rent’. As the accounts report, “In addition Maryon Stewart provided office space for the foundation at a rent of £6,000 for the period”. The cost in 2012 was also £6,000.

Another ‘charitable activity’ was, as far as I can make out, £500 given to Maryon Stewart’s son – “Maryon Stewart’s son was paid £500 for taking photos”.

Other ‘charitable activities’ included ‘filming’ – £9,676; ‘focus groups’ – £3,138; ‘publicity’ £3,464; ‘IT expenses‘ – £3,117; ‘refreshments’ – £1,116; ‘sundry expenses’ – £1,562…..

In fact, the only costs I could find that were absolutely clearly ‘charitable activities’ linked to this charity’s purpose were ‘events’ – £13,795. This equates to just under 5 pence of every £1 raised. I struggled (probably because I’m exceptionally stupid) to find anything else that looked like real, genuine, direct ‘charitable activities’. Most of the costs seemed to me to be incurred providing the £13,795 of ‘events’. But, that’s probably due to my ignorance.

I have no experience of charity work and so know little about charities. But in my utter stupidity and ignorance, I can’t help worrying about who actually benefits from the Angelus Foundation. And I suspect there are tens of thousands of other charities which use the money they collect in similar ways.

I leave it up to my dear readers as to whether they feel the Angelus Foundation deserves their money.

4 comments to Oh, sweet charity

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