Great Ormond Street Children’s Charity’s accounts show that over half of all complaints it received in the last 12 months were a result of its initial decision to return funds donated to it by the Presidents Club.
The Presidents Club was a charity which hosted an annual, black-tie, men's only fundraising event called The Presidents Club Charity Dinner. An investigative journalist from the Financial Times published a story in January which said that waitresses and hostesses hired to work at the event were groped, propositioned and sexually harassed by men attending the event.
The charity subsequently announced that it would be wound down.
GOSH was named in the initial story as one of the charities accepting donations from the event. The charity distanced itself from the event at the time, and announced on the same day the story broke that it would be returning more than £300,000 of donations it had received from the Presidents Club in the past.
According to its most recent set of accounts for the financial year ending 31 March 2018, this announcement led to 309 separate complaints from supporters, which resulted in the charity's board deciding to reverse this decision.
“As a result of feedback from our donors and supporters, and following liaison with the Charity Commission, the board concluded that the charity should retain the funds from the Presidents Club whilst noting that it did not condone the reported activities that took place at Presidents Club events.”
Its accounts show that GOSH received 605 complaints in total in 2017/18, a 15 per cent increase on 2016/17, however the 296 complaints that were unrelated to its Presidents Club decision was down from 526.
The majority of these remaining complaints were “primarily in relation to the ‘door-to-door’ direct marketing method of fundraising”.