Just as I predicted a few weeks ago in my blogs about Age UK’s commercial deals (see “Age UK” in the TAG CLOUD for the previous posts). The Charity Commission have been provoked into action.
The recent negative publicity about Age UK’s energy deal with EON has embarrassed the regulator into taking action to require all charities to “review their commercial arrangements” and to “ensure their commercial contracts reflect the values of the charity”.
This follows concerns about pressurised fundraising methods adopted by several large charities – accosting people in the street (chugging) or bombarding them with unsolicited junk mail and harassing them with unwanted phone calls. All marketing techniques widely used in the commercial sector, but less acceptable when used by a charity.
Over recent years, with the dramatic reduction in Government grants, many charities have sought to maximise their income elsewhere. There is nothing wrong with that, providing they don’t forget their charitable purpose or lose the trust of their donors. However, their charitable integrity should remain paramount and unquestionable. If this is lost, all is lost.
The tax relief given to charities could be withdrawn if they are seen to be abusing the situation. Charities are a much softer target for the tax inspector to take on than Google, Amazon and Starbucks.
Age UK made more than £100 million in commercial income last year, but by doing so in a questionable and non-transparent way they may have done more damage to themselves and to other charities than they realise!