London-based community development charity Cambridge House has taken possession of the electronic data of 48 clients of the wound-up outsourcing company Charity Business.
Charity Business (CB) ceased trading last week, leaving around 200 charity clients without services ranging from payroll to a full finance directorate.
Cambridge House was itself a customer of CB and recovered the data of other clients when it was given access to its own records last week. It is now inviting other CB clients to get in touch to retrieve their records.
In a statement, the charity said: “Cambridge House had been concerned for several weeks as to the future viability of Charity Business prior to its announcement last week.
“We had taken a number of steps to protect our organisation from CB’s demise in terms of trying to find out what was going on, seeking to regain possession of our data and putting in place contingency arrangement for services critical to our operation, including payroll administration for our staff.
“This even led us to investigate the possibility of offering to buy CB at one stage, and throughout to keeping open lines of communication with as many parties who have been involved in CB as possible, including CB staff, their advisers and other interested parties.
“This approach has culminated in us being given access to our paper records and hard drives with our electronic data on. Given the untimely demise of CB our data sits next to that of other CB customers.
“Having been given advance consent from six other charities, who were happy for us to recover their data along with our own, we took the decision that it would be better to take all the CB data rather than leave it in a situation which could have made it potentially unrecoverable to colleague organisations.
“We are now anxious to do all we can to ensure that other organisations are given access to their data on a timely basis. We are communicating with all other organisations known to be affected.”
Letter to other customers
Cambridge House chief executive Clare Gilhooly (pictured) has also written to various CB clients to advise them of the situation and invite them to contact her to recover their records. The letter said: “I’m pleased and relieved to say that, with assistance from our lawyers, we have been able to take safe custody of much of what we understand to be CB’s client records.
“We have sourced an independent consultant to disaggregate our data, on a confidential basis, and who will be able to do the same for your organisation.” The letter then goes on to list various conditions that charities must agree to in order to access their data, including the requirement that the records must be made available to any liquidator or tax authority if requested.
She adds: “It is possible we may be instructed or advised to deposit the records with a third party or authority either before or after hearing from you with a request as above. If we receive such an instruction or advice, we may act on it, but we will notify you if we do so after receiving a request from you.”
Gilhooly points out that there may be a “modest cost involved” in handling the process, including the cost of the independent consultant, “and we should be grateful if you would agree to reimburse any direct out-of-pocket costs which we incur on your behalf, including a fair share of the consultant’s fee”.
Charities who wish to avail themselves of Cambridge House’s offer should email [email protected] for more information. The charity will also be holding meetings at 4pm tomorrow and 12pm Monday to answer questions from CB customers about disaggregating the data into a useful format.
Charity Business employees get new jobs
Meanwhile, a number of former CB employees have joined Leading Services, the financial outsourcing subsidiary of business consultancy, Leading Resolutions.
Leading Services is a new outfit headed by executive director Sheila Bryant and non-executive director Graham Shaw, former chief financial officer at City & Guilds. Bryant said Leading Services would work on clients’ behalf to obtain the necessary data to ensure that year-end accounts and ongoing operational requirements are met as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Kingston Smith has also launched a helpline for former CB clients.