The Charity Commission has contacted the trustees of the Do-it Trust for “clarification” after the charity announced plans to transfer administration of its online volunteering platform to a new private company.
The Do-it Trust announced last week that it had partnered with the technology firm Vivo to launch a new company Vivo Life, which will run the Do-it platform and the social tech services run by Vivo.
The company will be a benefit corporation, or B Corp, and has said it will be a social enterprise, although umbrella body Social Enterprise UK has questioned whether the company will meets its criteria.
Over 60,000 volunteer centres, charities, social enterprises, local authorities and others use the Do-it platform to recruit from a pool of 200,000 volunteers.
Jamie Ward-Smith, who was Do-It’s chief executive, will become the non-executive chair of Vivo Life and a trustee of Do-it. Do-it staff have been transferred to the new organisation.
'Take it to the next level'
The Do-it volunteering platform was developed by YouthNet, which is now known as The Mix following a merger with another youth charity.
Do-it was transferred to a partnership led by the Red Trust, which changed its name to the Do-it Trust, at the end of 2013, because YouthNet wanted to focus on its services for young people.
Do-it Trust has received around £1m in transition funding from the Office for Civil Society, which was intended to enable the new owner to put the platform on a sustainable footing.
The charity is now expected to become Vivo Life’s corporate foundation, but it will also retain ownership of the customer-relationship management software, V-Base Cloud, that is used by volunteer centres to upload and manage roles.
Last week Pat Sammuel, chair of Do-It said that the partnership “will take Do-it.org to the next level in terms of the service provided and the impact we can generate” and that “it secures the long term future of the platform and will give access to new technology that will result in a better service for volunteers, recruiters and other social enterprises”.
Vivo Life is a private company limited by shares and will be structured as a B corp, meaning it will be certified by B Lab to ensure it meets standards in ethical and social performance.
It was incorporated in April and Vivo Rewards is the sole shareholder. George Grima, chief executive of Vivo, is the only director currently registered with Companies House.
A Commission spokeswoman said: “The Commission has been made aware of the partnership between Do-it Trust and social enterprise Vivo Life. We have contacted the trustees for further clarification on the nature of the partnership, and to assess what, if any, regulatory action is required.”
A spokesman for Vivo Life said that: “There are some aspects of Vivo Life that are due to be put in place over the coming months, including adding directors as Vivo and Do-it Trust identify people with the requisite skills to join the board, and refining the articles to ensure that they are aligned in order for us to apply for B Corp status.”
He said the new organsiation had opted for the B Corp model because an asset lock model, such as a community interest company, “may not be compatible with more commercial approach that might need flexibility.”
He said: “We are really excited by the energy and commitment of the B Corp movement and the organisations that make it up - including one of our former partners - and want to be part of that, and as a vehicle it provided the most flexible option in terms of potential future funding and investment in our services.”