The Charity Commission has sanctioned the suspension of online giving website CharityGiving run by the Dove Trust in a bid to protect charitable funds reported to be in the region of £250,000.
The action was taken by the charity’s interim manager, Pesh Framjee of Crowe Clark Whitehill, who was appointed by the Charity Commission in June.
According to the Dove Trust, Framjee was meeting with a "large charity" this morning in a bid to try to "salvage the situation" and ensure charities do not miss out on funds raised for them.
Framjee’s recent assessment indicates that there is a shortfall between the funds due to the charities donated through CharityGiving, and the cash held by the Dove Trust. Online reports suggest that the shortfall may be in the region of £250,000.
The Charity Commission opened a statutory inquiry into the Dove Trust in 2011 over concerns with its governance and financial management.
Statement from suspended trustees
In a statement issued today on behalf of the suspended trustees, the Dove Trust's founder Keith Colman said: "We have a track record of 30 years of not letting charities and good causes down.
"A meeting has been arranged for Monday morning (15 July) between the interim manager and a large charity who could salvage this situation and ensure that all charities and good causes who have raised funds via CharityGiving do not lose out at all, a process which was commenced by us last week, before the Charity Commission took its action.
"If this meeting is positive, this situation could be sorted out very quickly.
"There may also be other corporate or charitable organisations or individuals who could step in to resolve the situation to the benefit of the whole charitable community.
'Pray for a positive outcome'
"We would ask that anyone who is affected by this situation who has a faith would pray that the outcome of the meeting on Monday morning will be positive.
"We would ask everyone involved to encourage the interim manager to use every effort to find a solution such as this, rather than simply liquidate this charity, which would be extremely costly for the charitable community."
According to its entry on the Charity Commission website, the Dove Trust "assists charities and appeals with many aspects of their organisation, administration,service delivery, provides information, advice, help, and giving facilities via charitygiving.co.uk, helps good causes achieve their goals, with promotion and fundraising online etc".
Interim manager appointed in June
The Commission appointed Framjee as interim manager of the Dove Trust last month, using its powers under the Charities Act 2011. On 28 June, due to the risk to charitable funds, the Commission acted to restrict the charity’s bank accounts. On Friday morning the Charity Commission made an order to give the interim manager full control of the charity.
The Dove Trust’s trustees have not filed any accounts since the year ending 5 April 2009.
The Charity Commission added that any funds donated on or after 12 July should be automatically directed back to the donor through the banking system.
The Charity Commission has said that charities and donors should check regularly the CharityGiving website for updates.
Michelle Russell, head of investigations and enforcement at the Charity Commission, said:
“We have taken this action because of serious concerns about the trustees’ management of the fundraising portal and the charity’s financial situation. We recognise this will cause concern among the donors and fundraisers who have collected money for the charity through the site and for the charities who are expecting to receive those funds.
"However it is now clear that the financial situation of the charity means there was no option but to suspend the online portal. We know that the public will be concerned to ensure that donations made reach the charities for whom they were intended, and the interim manager will now undertake an urgent, detailed review of the charity’s finances to establish the extent of the shortfall and which charities and donors are affected.”
The Commission has advised that it cannot assist individual donors, fundraisers or charities. Donors and charities who are concerned about funds pledged via CharityGiving should contact Pesh Framjee on 0207 842 7313 or email.
Sector tweets reactions
Representatives from the charitable sector took to Twitter to react to the news: