October 2021
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Don’t waste your money on “Crisis at Christmas”

As Christmas (the season for giving) approaches, most of us are being bombarded by gimme gimme gimme letters from some of Britain’s over 200,000 charities. Among the pile coming through my door was one from “Crisis at Christmas”.

I have given to them in the past. But since I researched and wrote my latest book THE GREAT CHARITY SCANDAL, I’ve become a bit more careful about whom I give my very limited money to. So, before putting a modest cheque into the Crisis at Christmas envelope, I had a quick shifty through their financial accounts. And I really didn’t like what I saw.

The charity Crisis UK was founded in 1967 in response to the Ken Loach film Cathy Come Home shown the previous year, and a publicity campaign highlighting the plight of homeless people. Crisis launched their Crisis at Christmas campaign in 1972.

There were three things that worried me when I looked at how Crisis uses and (IMHO) abuses our money:

1. Too little used for ‘charitable activities’

According to the Charity Commission on average our charities spend £8.50 of every £10 donated on supposed ‘charitable activities’. Of course, I know that’s complete bollox as many charities include things like consultancy fees paid to the founder, administration costs and all kinds of political campaigning as ‘charitable activities’ when they clearly are not. But let’s put that aside for the moment and compare like with like – the financial report from Crisis with the financial reports from other charities.

Whereas the average charity reportedly spends £8.50 of every £10 donated on ‘charitable activities’, Crisis spends only £6.79. That’s a pretty big difference:

Crisis charitable spending comparison

If Crisis could match other charities, that would leave an extra £4m a year less for management and bureaucracy and thus £4m a year more for ‘charitable activities

2. Highly-paid staff

You might have thought a relatively small charity dealing with the homeless in the UK would pay its employees less than charities operating in some of the world’s most dangerous countries? Well, you would have been wrong. Whereas the average employee cost (salary, social security and pension) at charities like Oxfam, Red Cross and Save the Children are in the range of £20,000 to £26,000, the average employee cost at Crisis is a much more generous £37,183:

Crisis employee cost


3. Highly-paid boss

Crisis won’t tell me how much their boss is paid. They just do the legal minimum of reporting that he or she is in the salary band of £100,000 to £109,999 (so let’s assume they’re getting in the middle of that range – £105,000). Crisis has about 251 FTEs (full-time equivalent employees). Yet the Crisis boss is being paid at pretty much the same level as the boss of Oxfam (4,855 FTEs) and more than the boss of CAFOD (444 FTEs):

Crisis boss salary comparison

So the Crisis boss is being paid a similar salary as bosses of charities with many more employees possibly operating in many more countries. Does that seem right to you?

Conclusion – 1 Does Crisis deserve our money?

I have phoned and emailed the media department at Crisis asking why so little money is used on ‘charitable activities’ and why Crisis employees seem to be so expensive. But sadly I have not yet had a reply.

However, from what I’ve seen, I’m not wasting any more of my money on Crisis at Christmas and its (IMHO) over-paid employees and boss.

Conclusion – 2 Why does Crisis even exist?

But hold on a minute. I’ve just seen a TV ad for Shelter. I wonder what the £60m-a-year Shelter does? Oh, Shelter seems to be doing pretty much the same thing as the £25m-a-year Crisis:

crisis vs shelter

So, if we merged these two charities, we could probably save around £7m in administration and support costs. That’s £7m more that could be used for real ‘charitable purposes’. What about it Shelter and Crisis? Oh, you don’t want to merge as that would mean lots of highly-paid bosses and bureaucrats losing their jobs and bosses losing the chance of their OBEs or whatever gongs they’re after.

So, there’s another reason not to give a penny of your money to either Crisis or Shelter. They’ll just waste too much of it on themselves.

Incidentally, the average employee cost at Shelter is £34,992, well above the main international poverty charities like Oxfam (£22,327) or Save the Children (£19,075), but comfortably below the £37,183 of those lucky people at Crisis

45 comments to Don’t waste your money on “Crisis at Christmas”

  • david brown

    I posted link to this article using a spare facebook profile
    on the facebook pages of Crisis and Shelter.

    ps the youtube video With Open Gates keeps getting removed
    the MSM do not want you to see it .Close on four million have.

  • Excellent. Many thanks for helping spread the truth as the charities in question spend millions telling us how wonderful they are.

  • Stuz Graz

    I want my charities run by retired colonels, head mistresses, accountants and other pillars of society who are prepared to do the work for the non-material reward it offers.

    It was always the case that people took on these roles either in retirement or in addition to their day to day role. There is huge kudos and personal satisfaction in this but by its very nature cannot be rewarded with huge salaries and executive perks and bonuses in the way these professional charities are doing. It is completely wrong and I will not support any of them.

  • MGJ

    Pocketing or wasting donations may not be exactly ethical but as long as everything is kept voluntary then it is up to individual donors to make their own judgements.

    However I see this particular charity says it receives £2.5m in ‘Grants’. No details of what this means but presumably handouts from the taxpayer and that I do object to. If it the wish of ‘the people’ to donate then they can do so directly without the government squandering part of it. If it is not the wish of the people then it is indistinguishable from theft.

  • David Jones

    Good to see how the hard earned cash of generous donators is spent.

    Disgraced charity boss ‘used funds to pay for driver’s daughter’s school’
    The former boss of Kids Company allegedly used the charity’s money to pay the boarding school fees for her driver’s daughter.

  • David Jones

    You have been warned!!!!

    Facebook Is Making It Super Easy For You To Give Money To Charity
    With new tools for nonprofits to solicit donations directly from your Newsfeed, Facebook wants to become the platform for giving.

    I have deleted my Facebook account recently ,they are one of the creepiest spying outfits, nearly as bad as Google who spy on the contents of your Email and use that for their and Governments own ends.Big Brother is really watching you now.

  • Tom Molloy

    The more publicity these charities
    receive the quicker they will put there house in order.
    We need total transparency and until that happens I will not give any more money to most charities.

  • caroline eason

    I have just donated £45 to crisis. I do this every Christmas. I wish I could get my money back now, I am furious how they prey on generous people. I am a pensioner with just my state pension every week, so it is not that I have money to burn.

  • Lesley

    I can’t seem to find anywhere how much the Crisis at Christmas tv ad cost and more to the point, who paid for it. Any clues?

  • David Horder

    Well done releasing this information. They just confirm the suspicions that I have had for a long time. You only have to see the incomes of the bosses to raise concerns.

  • Marc

    I just saw a program about cooking a christmas meal for less than £5 a head and the bloke did a christmas dinner for £4.33 and Crisis are asking for £26.08 this year. Something very fishing going on if you ask me.

  • Joanne

    So you are worried about the salary the CEO of Crisis gets but not the billions stored in offshore tax havens? I can also tell you that most Crisis staff do not earn anywhere near 38k a year and many are ex members (homeless users). The company also borrows employees the money to put down a rental deposit interest free ( helping ex members get a secure home). Perhaps you should focus on tax dodging billionaires and a government throwing our money away to prop up their tenure with the dodgy DUP rather than picking on an organisation that genuinely helps homeless people.

  • Alfie Solomon

    My wife worked for 2.5yrs at the Coventry Crisis Skylight office before being bullied out. Day after day I would hear accounts from her of gross mis-management, flauting of employment law and abuse of financial regulations, which although they receive and spend public money, they seem to be exempt from the same rigorous regulations that public bodies are accountable to.
    An office full of overpaid, incompetent arseholes who show little concern for their so called client base and the manipulation of fraudulent statistics demonstrating that they are meeting mythical outcomes whilst avoiding any strategic development towards true partnership working.
    My question is, what are the Charities Commission doing when it comes to monitoring these charlatans.

  • I’m ex-homeless and am writing this from Crisis at Christmas, where I have been all day every day for the last 7 days. I’ve been blogging every day about all the lies Crisis are telling the public about Crisis at Christmas to con £29,5 million donations.

    Read my blog posts written live at Crisis at Christmas on

  • ron striebig

    All charities that have any paid employee’s are actually businesses.
    Such charities are ARMS of the EVIL called capitalism , a philosophy of the current Tory Government
    Albert Einstein in his 1949 article ‘Why Socialism’ stated that Capitalism is an EVIL.
    You see 1000 charities in UK pay their CEO in excess of £100k pa whilst they have a MUG army of unpaid slaves–Hence Charities such as these are actually worse than Capitalism
    The churches in Croydon run a TRUE charity CCFS for the street homeless and they have NO paid staff at all

  • P, Oldham

    I’m rather glad I have read the above stories. I shall cease to give to any charities in future, except the Salvation Army.

  • Jay G

    I have read these stories with great interest. How do these chief executives sleep at night (very well I am told), no one needs a three figure salary to survive, many people are earning less than £20,00. These people should go away. More fool the public for giving to any charity where salaries are extortionate, obviously they do not care about the charity they work for or the people and if they did would not take such high salaries. They ought to be ashamed of themselves. If I decide to give to any charity I will put the money in the individual’s hand so they and only they get the money not the exceedingly greedy chief executives of these organisations.

  • Timothy

    If this isn’t bad enough, imagine a SECOND company taking a cut from charity donations and passing it off though a charity advent calendar? are peddling calendars to ‘change the world’ and also taking 15% of the donation for ‘marketing and production purposes’ while being registered as a retail company.’ The Advent of Change ltd’.

    They’re including Crisis this year so after their 15% then crisis 40% how can they deliver on their bold claims: ‘Feed a homeless person’ or ‘Change the world’ with less than 60p ending up being passed on – and I imagine in reality its a lot less!

  • Jay G

    I do not give to any charity after I found out what the Chief Executives are earning, they are extremely greedy and do not need the six figure salaries they are given, how do they sleep at night. If I decide to give I make sure I give it to the person in need and not to a charity so the person in need gets every penny I give to them. Also It does not need Christmas for people to give away their hard earned money, charity can be given 365 days a year not only atChristmas.

  • Lynn W

    I can’t find an up-to-date version of this,12406,1042677,00.html?gusrc=gpd?gusrc=gpd, but it gives a good idea of what they might be paying their CEO’s. I gave £50 to the Salvation Army and was about to give the same to Crisis, as I do every year, but thanks to this information I will only give to the charities who deserve it. My father-in-law used to run a charity in Leeds after he’d retired and didn’t get paid a penny for it, apart from his mileage. He did it because he could and because he wanted to help. Unfortunately the guy who took over from him, when he felt it was too much, demanded a huge salary. It seems it’s not that easy to get hold of people who want to volunteer to run a charity these days. It’s unfortunate, but I think we’re a more selfish and greedy society now than we were 40 years ago, especially true of the people at the top.

  • Maddy

    I volunteered at Crisis at Christmas a few years back. My understanding is they are loaned empty buildings for the Christmas period so no expenditure there. Doctors, opticians, chiropodists,barbers etc. give their time for free. Chris Martin from Coldplay was there doing some plumbing works for showers, etc. prior to the homeless arriving on Christmas Eve (his trade before he became famous I was told). Food came in from every which way, loads of stuff from Harrods and M & S. Everything was given as a donation, so now I ask why Crisis are asking for £28.18 to reserve a place for each homeless person for the Christmas period when everything has been donated so is already paid for. Obviously the donations are to pay for the fat cats salary.

  • Ollie

    100k for a CEO in an organisation with 250 employees is peanuts, frankly. In for profits they’d be earning well over double that.

    Some charities simply dish out cash to causes, there’s little overhead involved in this. Crisis’ operations are far more complex. It costs money, and requires expertise. All of this costs money.

  • David Wilkin

    Thank you for the insight into this ‘charity’. I decided to donate £28.18 to Salvation Army.

  • Richard

    Ive just made a donation, but having read the above not again.

  • Sharaz

    Thanks for the info, I run a small charity and I do it for NO pay just travel costs. I am aware of the pay some charities pay their staff and ceo’s So wanted to check crisis before I donated. Think I’ll pass.
    Thankyou Maddy I thought I had seen something on one of the news channels about the free buildings, volunteer doctors etc giving up their time.

  • Brian O'Neil

    If you want to give then look for the Rotary Club, if you give a pound then a pound goes to Charities be it local or International. I am a Rotarian and spend many (happy) hours each year trying to raise funds for charities, remember give a pound in a bucket and that pound gets given to charitable causes.

  • Graham Briggs

    Hello all, I won’t get into a debate on the pros and cons of this charity, not least because everyone is entitled to their opinion and when minds are made up debate is a bit pointless. I’ll just say that I’ve done 100 hours for Crisis in the past 10 days and I’ve done that with 11,000 colleagues. None of us take a penny for that, but you seem to have missed that out of you arithmetic. I’m quite happy for Jon Sparkes to earn £100k+ out of Crisis. You know why? He does a damn good job for my homeless mates and improves their lives. I could do his job for nothing but I’d achieve very little in comparison. Focus on the impact, not the money.

  • Angus Ramsay

    The obnoxious status quo! T’will remain until we give all our children the same education we give out so-called elite!

  • Glyn Jones

    I have ceased to give money to National Charities. Better give to local charities who use every penny given to whatever cause they support. Most if not all National Charities pay their CEO unreasonable amounts. Most Charity CEO’s earn more than our Prime Ministers. Local charities struggle to find support so why therefore give money to greedy people who parade under the guise of charity

  • Srk

    Shocking revelations about “Crisis at Christmas”. I have been associated with “Crisis at Christmas” for four years along with my wife. Working many years with NHS, witnessing poor social care, sufferings of marginalised people in the community I decided to leave my paid job to work as a volunteer. I entirely agree with most of the sentiments expressed above. Therefore I rather give my time and skills to charities than amounts of cash. Indeed there is a lot of duplication of the same work in the name of different charities.
    Shockingly, in my opinion clandestine prejudicial attitudes of the management, which are better paid than most other charities is abhorrent.

  • Iain Taylor

    There was a lot of publicity about ceo wages and professional fundraiser at renumerations in the last few years. While I agree that the ceo salaries are excessive, the raw data on % of donations reaching recipients can be misleading. Studies done show that often it is the charities which have higher admin costs that are more effective in getting the goods to the people in need. Water aid is a prime example where the costs of getting the equipment and voluntary engineers to location and all the ancilliary costs of finding the water supply tend to look like profiteering. However they are very effective at giving a clean water supply to many people. It’s a personal choice but be careful not to be too simplistic in the analysis. Some people also make a living out of charity bashing!

  • john rae

    could any one from crisis tell me how The£28 will be spent on that homeless guy in your tv ad i bet i wont get a decent reply

  • Jamie Ross

    A search on the Charity Commission website details the Charitable spending as a percentage of total income:

    1082947 – CRISIS UK – 61%
    214779 – THE SALVATION ARMY – 51%
    292411 – CENTREPOINT SOHO – 73%

    I just made a donation to Centrepoint, the Soho bit is legacy, they operate nationwide.

  • Amy Bickerstaff

    I don’t trust charities on the whole. There are 1 or 2 that do seem to be set up to help. However, too many pay too much to their CEOs etc. Shelter do not appear to help the homeless. I contacted them recently about a homeless man that had been very badly treated by some security guards. They were not interested at all. I asked if they could help publicise his fate they said that they do more general publicity about homelessness.

  • Allison

    That’s just saved me nearly 30 quid I could ill afford anyway!

  • Terry Cleary

    Probably be better to handover £20.00 to someone you see sleeping on the streets after doing your best to make sure their NOT drunks or drug addicts

  • Gary Gordon

    Donate your money to the Sally Army, they can do the same job per person than Crisis do for a third less. Sally are asking £18 per person to be donated, Crisis want £27. the Salvation Army do not have highly paid directors, so they can do the same far more effectively. I know where to put my money!

  • Julie Stonestreet

    I had no idea this was such an insidious practice, operated to dupe the public by so many ‘charities’. Thank you for your investigation and for sharing. I will now only donate directly, or to local charities run by local people who actually care.I will give to WWF though. x

  • MLN

    Thank you for all your advice. I’m glad I read the above before I gave money to ‘Crisis At Christmas’.


    Thanks. When I read the flimsy leaflet it said “you can give a crisis Christmas”. That rang warning bells. It is hoped to save people from a crisis – not give it to them. I couldn’t match up the address on the return envelope, so decided to surf around a bit. Glad I did. That’s gone in the bin for recycling and I’m saving my pension.

  • HMmmmm, £28.22, have a merry christmas the well paid staff of crisis.

  • Phil B

    I am a pensioner who used to give to Crisis until I read this blog, never again! I wouldn’t give to the Salvation Army either, their headquarters are right in the heart of the big banks in London! so how much does that big office and staff cost? I shall put my money into food banks from now on, at least that gets to the people who really need it.

  • Tracy S

    I am absolutely against fat-cat salaries, wherever they be. I note from some comments above, that CEOs of charities should be on a voluntary basis only. One suggestion is that retired colonels etc should take up the posts. Well, the reality is, that few people are able to work for nothing. And I imagine, few are willing to put in the huge time, effort and associated stress factor that goes along with the role.

    I speak from experience. In 2013 I left my local authority employment (with it, very average salary, but decent pension, 3 months paid sick leave) and set up a not for profit organisation, which became a charity 2 years later. Since then, I have worked very very hard. I combine the roles of CEO, manager, mediator, designer of services, volunteer manager and cleaner in one.

    we are tiny, with 2.5 FTE staff and a couple of volunteers. We work with disadvantaged families, making their lives better, giving new skills and helping them to resolve conflict. We make a difference.

    Would I do this for zero pay? No. I have a mortgage, bills to pay. The work is stressful.
    The moral of the story? Don’t tar us all with the same brush.

    And to the person who thinks ‘grants’ are handouts at the expense of the tax payer. Wrong, think Children In Need, National Lottery, Comic Relief and thousands of of other grant-maker supporting the charitable sector. And getting these grants is a battle hard fought. The work can be immense and the competition considerable.

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