Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity has said it will return donations from the Presidents Club Charitable Trust amid widespread condemnation of the reports in the Financial Times about groping and harassment at last week’s event.
An undercover FT investigation reported that some attendees at this year's men-only event were groping and sexually harassing female hostesses.
Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital has also said it will give its donation back.
NCVO, the Institute of Fundraising and the Association of Charitable Foundations have all issued strong condemnations of the event.
The Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator are also looking into the allegations, although neither has opened an investigation.
GOSH and Guy's and St Thomas' statement
GOSH was named in the FT’s report as being one of the charities that the event raised money for, and the Presidents Club accounts suggest it is one of the main beneficiaries over the last two years, receiving a total of £305,000 in the financial years 2015 and 2016. Details of how much, if any, it received in 2017 are not yet available.
A spokesman for the charity said: “We are shocked to hear of the behaviour reported at the Presidents Club Charitable Trust fundraising dinner. We would never knowingly accept donations raised in this way.
“We have had no involvement in the organisation of this event, nor attended and we were never due to receive any money from it.
“All monies raised in our name go to support vital work. However, due to the wholly unacceptable nature of the event we are returning previous donations and will no longer accept gifts from the Presidents Club Charitable Trust.”
In a statement Guy's and St Thomas' said: "We are very alarmed by allegations about the behaviour of some of those attending the Presidents Club fundraising dinner. This is not the kind of event we would wish to be associated with and we will therefore be declning funding and returning all previous donations from the Presidents Club."
‘There is no excuse for this behaviour in fundraising’
Charity umbrella bodies have said the reports of the event are unacceptable and urged charities to distance themselves.
Elizabeth Chamberlain, head of policy at NCVO said: “Any reputable charity would be horrified to be associated with an event like this. Sexual abuse at an event that claims fundraising for children's charities as its aim is particularly deplorable.
She added that: “Accepting a donation would suggest they approved of how the money was raised. I doubt many charities would want to take the money now they have become aware of what has gone on.”
Peter Lewis, chief executive of the IoF, said the reported behaviour is "absolutely unacceptable and has no place in charity fundraising whatsoever.
He added: “There can be no excuse – no amount of money raised would make this kind of behaviour acceptable.
"All fundraising has to be legal, open, honest and respectful and at all times must follow the Code of Fundraising Practice. Every charity should always consider whether to accept or refuse any donations if those donations are from sources not in line with the charity’s values or long-term interests.”
Keiran Goddard, director of external affairs at the ACF, said: “This makes for extremely grim reading, and of course we condemn the practices and behaviours described in the strongest, most unequivocal terms.
“Charitable activity should be driven by values, not by their dereliction, and it should strive to create or preserve social good, not contribute to its erosion.”
‘Urgently assessing the reports’
Both the Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator are looking at the issues raised.
Tracy Howarth, head of Regulatory compliance at the Charity Commission: “The public hold charities to the highest standards, both in what they do and how they go about it. They will rightly be dismayed by the reports they have read today and will consider that the alleged behaviour has no place being taken in the name of charity, whether raising funds for good causes or not.
"Charities have a duty to fundraise responsibly and in line with their values. Trustees must also consider the well-being and protection of staff and all those who come into contact with their charity - not just those they are there to help.
“We are aware of concerns reported by the Financial Times about the Presidents’ Club Charity Dinner. We are assessing these allegations as a matter of urgency and will be contacting the Presidents Club Charitable Trust.”
A spokesman for the Fundraising Regulator said: “The Code of Fundraising Practice sets out clear principles for all fundraising organisations to follow. The values which underpin the Code include a requirement to be open, honest and respectful.
“The Fundraising Regulator will take an interest in any case where it appears an organisation has failed to meet these principles. We are carefully considering the findings of the FT’s investigation and will shortly decide on an appropriate regulatory course of action for The Presidents Club. This will be announced in due course.”
Presidents Club statement
Civil Society News has tried to contact the Presidents Club this morning but was told no-one was available and to call back later.
The charity provided this statement to the FT: “The Presidents Club recently hosted its annual dinner, raising several million pounds for disadvantaged children. The organisers are appalled by the allegations of bad behaviour at the event asserted by the Financial Times reporters. Such behaviour is totally unacceptable. The allegations will be investigated fully and promptly and appropriate action taken.”