Telegraph publishes clarification to its news story about the True and Fair Foundation report

11 Feb 2016 News

The Daily Telegraph has printed a clarification to its report accusing charities of spending too little on “good works”, and has made a number of changes to the online version of the story.

The Daily Telegraph has printed a clarification to its report accusing charities of spending too little on “good works”, and has made a number of changes to the online version of the story.

Speaking to Civil Society News, a spokeswoman for the Telegraph emphasised that the clarification, which appears on page two of today’s edition, was made on a voluntary basis.

She said that the move follows discussions between the newspaper and NCVO, which were mediated by the press regulator IPSO.

IPSO has since published a report detailing all the changes the newspaper agreed to make.

The Telegraph sparked fury among charities in December last year by giving front-page coverage to a report entitled The Hornet’s Nest, which had been published by an organisation called the True and Fair Foundation.

It used a figure for charitable spending taken from the Charity Commission website, leading The Telegraph to claim that “one in five of Britain’s biggest charities spend less than 50 per cent on good works”.

Figures included trading income

The clarification, which appears on page two of today’s edition and stops short of giving an apology, states: “We wish to clarify that this proportion related to charities’ total income.

“This includes income from trading subsidiaries in addition to donations from the public.

“Some of the income attributable to these sources is necessary to cover the costs of trading and this can be a significant proportion of the total.

“When these trading costs are excluded, the proportion of charities’ expenditure on charitable objects is invariably significantly higher.”

Significant changes online

The Telegraph has also significantly amended the news story on its website. Amendments include:

  • Referring to “total income” rather than “the cash raised every year by members of the public”;
  • Removing two statistics about how much charities raise from the public;
  • Removing the third paragraph which stated that “the news will disappoint the thousands of volunteers who every year put aside time to raise money for the good causes, as well as donors who will expect more cash to go to help those in need”;
  • Removing descriptions of Cancer Research UK, Guide Dogs for the Blind and the British Heart Foundation as “some of the worst offenders”, and Lloyds Register as “the worst culprit”;
  • Removing a quote from the True and Fair Foundation’s founder Gina Miller;
  • Removing two large images of Miller.

'Constructive engagement'

Responding to the judgement, NCVO chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington said: "I have always said that charities should be open to scrutiny.

"But that does not mean we should let inaccuracies go unchallenged. I am grateful for the constructive engagement of The Telegraph and IPSO in this process."

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